Call for participants

Wolfson College, Oxford (via Zoom) 5-6 August 2021

Co-convenors: Dr Katherine Collins (Oxford) Dr Helen Mort (MMU) Dr Mariah Whelan (UCL/Cambridge)

Click here to download this call as a pdf

30 years ago, sociologist Laurel Richardson read the poem ‘Louisa May’ at the 1990 meeting of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. Since then, there has been considerable interest in the notion of poetry as research, and many poetic publications by researchers. For poet and classicist Anne Carson, creative and academic practices are ‘not that different’. Both approaches represent an attempt to understand the world and their methods can, therefore, quite happily ‘permeate one another’.

Following these and other examples, many researchers now ‘use’ poetry as a method of inquiry or as a means of dissemination. Many poets conduct research as part of their creative process. Often poets and researchers collaborate. Naturally, critical questions about poetry as a research method have been posed, some relating to the literary or artistic merits of the poetry researchers write, others about the risk that novelty and the desire to break taboos may come at the expense of substance. Sometimes poets feel as if they might have been brought in to ‘sprinkle pixie dust’ over a research project, or to increase its impact, without having the opportunity to contribute to the inquiry itself. 

This symposium seeks to bring together poets, researchers, researcher-poets and poet-researchers interested in exploring the intersections of poetry and research and to explore the questions we, as members of this growing field of inquiry, should be asking of our practices, our ethics, our outputs, and ourselves. We are seeking contributors to participate in themed panels. Each panel member will speak for 10 minutes, followed by a discussion. 

We are very open to new thematic possibilities, or you may also find it helpful to consider how your contribution might fit into one of the following themes:

  • How do we define the core terms: what is research, what is poetry, what is collaboration, art, creativity, method?
  • How do we articulate aesthetic, epistemic, and ethical criteria for this kind of work? Should standards exist and what should they be?
  • What is the impact of Impact and other research quality frameworks such as REF on the kind of work that is made and valued?
  • What makes an effective, productive, collaboration between individuals and disciplines when some are poetically inclined, and others are research inclined?
  • Is poetry a ‘non-extractive’ method of research? How are the risks of colonising and appropriating poetic traditions being articulated and managed?

Please send a 300-word outline of your proposed contribution, which could be a conventional conference-style presentation or poetic in nature:


Submit your proposal


Deadline: 28 June 2021