What is it about?

Butt states that academia suffers from the scourge of neo-liberalism, and runs the risk to lose its independence to political and/or commercial interests. In this respect, I share his worries. However, he sees the problem of academia in its tenacious holding on to "propositional knowledge," maintaining that "artistic research" should be seen as "a form of inquiry that may fundamentally question the university’s role" (p. 5).

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Why is it important?

Butt's book addresses the thorny question to what extent "artistic research" is not a paradox. Can art be not only a subject of scholarly research, but also constitute a form of research itself? Is it thinkable to engage in serious scholarship via other media than (just) written language? These are questions that are worth pondering. However, I see Butt's proposal to give artistic research a central role in university to replace the -- he would say: "outdated" -- search for propositional knowledge truly dangerous.


In my view, academia, and particularly the humanities, should adopt an open attitude toward exploring different ways than the traditional written-language-only variety. But that is something completely different than claiming that academia and art pursue the same goals. In the end, Butt's book has, ironically, made me more rather than less skeptical about the possibility of doing "artistic research" in academia.

Dr Charles Forceville
Universiteit van Amsterdam

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This page is a summary of: Book review: Artistic Research in the Future Academy, Visual Communication, January 2021, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/1470357220968043.
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