Last night I had the honour of speaking as part of the Lincoln Academy series. This is the University of Lincoln’s way of connecting our research with the local community. I spoke on the notion of unperformability and the British avant-garde, so it also acted as my official book launch. And I so enjoyed myself! The lecture went well and there were some great questions afterwards. I loved the fact that the audience included a load of students and colleagues, as well as local folks. And friends and the fam were there to celebrate too. D resisted the urge to ask a difficult question!
By the end of the event (after the best canapés you will eat anywhere in academia) I was exhausted and just about managed to eat a veggie burger before crawling home. The whole thing reminded me of the importance of connecting our research with those outside of academia. As humanities/arts scholars it can be really easy to imagine that no one in the real world is the least bit interested in slightly obscure archival work. Last night reminded me that this is a total lie. Actually our scholarship has the potential to deeply connect with people’s lives. Clearly it is more difficult to determine its influence or importance, unlike, say, finding a cure for cancer or creating new computing systems. But art is one of the things that makes us human – our ability to create art (in its broadest sense) and to engage with/enjoy it. I had some great chats afterwards and it was clear that folks really wanted to connect with the ideas. I found the whole thing incredibly encouraging and it was a great way to start my sabbatical proper. Being reminded of the importance of art research (and my responsibility to engage non-university communities in this research) was a fab prompt for me.
And so on with the sabbatical. The end of this week will be dominated by a host of little jobs – articles to finish and papers to read. And next week it is onwards and upwards with the new book. I love the thought that I have space and time to focus on research, even though I miss the students. Oh, and this is quite a fun new side project. As a colleague rightly said, it is a good job I wasn’t reading ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ (as an aside I haven’t read it and will not be doing so…ever)