Towards a Brechtian research pedagogy for intercultural education: cultivating intercultural spaces of experiment through drama

Frimberger, Katja (2013) Towards a Brechtian research pedagogy for intercultural education: cultivating intercultural spaces of experiment through drama. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This PhD thesis develops a Brechtian research pedagogy for intercultural education. Taking its lead from progressive intercultural educators and researchers who conceptualise intercultural experiences as being ‘radically embodied’, this thesis is underpinned by a concept of culture as fluid and constantly ‘in the making’. In order to give ethical and pedagogical consideration to such a performative view of culture, Brechtian thinking and theatre practice is employed and translated into the intercultural education research space. Placing Brechtian Verfremdung – ‘estrangement’ - at the heart of methodology, such research pedagogy works from within the precarity of intercultural spaces. Based on an immanent ethics that emerges from and shapes within the relationships built in the research space, the researcher’s role is that of the facilitator and co-producer of data. A Brechtian research pedagogy is thus considered a mode of production; one that does not conceptually presuppose ethics and pedagogy, but considers them as ‘becoming’ and integrated within its methods.

It asks two questions i) can a Brechtian informed approach to pedagogy create and change experiences of ‘strangeness’ and ii) if so, how is this achieved and manifested? The focus of this thesis is international students’ dynamic and in flux experiences of strangeness. During four half-day workshops in consecutive weeks, a group of ten international postgraduate students encounter a Brechtian research space, where, using drama, creative writing and filming methods, they engage in an open, embodied conversation on ‘intercultural experiences’. I trace participants’ process of intercultural learning and ‘intercultural making’ through the embodied methods used in the drama research workshops. These embodied methods stimulate a variety of reflective modes and produce multilayered data for analysis: pictures, conversations, creative writing pieces and even non-verbal gestures.

In order to prevent an early reification of these ‘texts’ into academic ‘strangeness knowledge’, they are in turn estranged and used in a mode of artistic production. This allows for active thinking about the research question as well as aids reflection on the modes of encounter within the research space. ‘Estrangement’ draws attention not only to the content of intercultural stories used, but to their inherent discursive structures and the effects these can have on participants’ well-being. The research project’s main emphasis, then, is on the process of research and starts to work towards a respective Brechtian representational practice by developing the term ‘dialogic aesthetic framing’. It is suggested that representations should be equally seen as modes of production, dependent on an audience’s active reading between the research’s ‘metaphoric gaps’. Future research would seek to develop this more product-oriented focus further, so as to test and develop concrete artistic, representational practices for a Brechtian research pedagogy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Intercultural education research, Bertolt Brecht, Drama, Immanent ethics, Estrangement, Intercultural spaces of experiment, Drama as research
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Phipps, Prof. Alison
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Ms Katja Frimberger
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4593
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2013 13:32
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2013 13:32

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