What Distinguishes Scholarship from Art?

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    The paper concerns Michael Biggs and Daniel Büchler's 2010 claim that the creative arts doctorate is a contradictory amalgam of two discursive modes, one aimed at translating a research experience into a single, unified answer to a problem, the other at eliciting a plurality of responses in diverse audiences through an evocative artefact. I set forth the lines of this critique, and then compare the analysis of scholarly method it is based upon with Jacques Lacan's fascinatingly similar account of what he calls the university discourse. My discussion diverges from Biggs and Büchler's, however, when it comes to considering Lacan's own writing style, which seems far more geared to eliciting a plurality of responses than presenting a single, unified answer. Lacan is, of course, a psychoanalyst. But many of the authors broadly associated with him in this stylistic regard (Derrida, Foucault, Serres, Deleuze, Barthes, among others) are academics. By Biggs and Büchler's analysis, they write as artists. This is curious, given that we cite them as our pre-eminent academic authorities. I reflect on how we might have to nuance Biggs and Büchler's distinction to accommodate this paradox, and further consider its implications for the style of humanities scholarship an exegesis might best assume, to satisfy critiques like theirs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)400-416
    Number of pages17
    JournalNew Writing
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014


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