Final session of the academic year

[Women need to] find ways to influence the construction and distribution of knowledge”

Spender, 1982

For the final arts based methods session of the academic year, we had an extended session with two speakers and a chance to discuss plans for next year.

The first speaker was Natalie Diddams, who shared some of her doctoral study research, asking if comedy can empower women. This study draws on fourth wave feminism to reflect on an historical context in which women have frequently been positioned as outside of comedy or the subject of it. Through a series of playful games and exercises, we confronted our own fears and anxieties about performing and “being funny”. In discussions, we considered the gendered and political dimensions of women doing comedy. Who gets to be inside and outside of the joke? What does it mean for women to take up space by being funny? Natalie asked us about the value of comedy workshops as a methodology, and we reflected on the potential of comedy to disrupt assumptions and habits, and so potentially surface new forms of knowledge.

The second speaker was Linda Knight, visiting from QUT, and representing the #FEAS collaborative, including Emily Gray and Mindy Blaise. Dressed in a gold lame suit, Linda performed an uncomfortable stand-up sequence, in which she shared real life experiences of female academics including sexual harassment, having opinions disregarded and being overlooked in favour of less experienced male colleagues. Sharing the literature on sexism in the academy, Linda explained that #FEAS was an endeavour interested in working in and against the system to highlight gender inequality through the discordance created when these things are presented as light hearted or comedic. T –shirts as wearable data, bingo games and performance bombings at conferences have been employed internationally to draw attention to the micro-aggressions and slipperiness of everyday sexism. Read more about #FEAS here http://www.aare.edu.au/blog/?tag=feas

Thanks so much to everyone who has supported, presenting and attended the arts based methods workshops this year. We are looking forward to running a similar programme of two sessions a month next academic year, and will circulate a programme when it is ready.

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