Unravelling Text: Reading as a Polyphonic Practice

I am an AHRC funded doctoral candidate pursuing my PhD at Roehampton University in the Drama, Theatre and Performance department. 

My AHRC research synopsis is below and to the right you can view images of my current practice-as-research explorations. Building on my existing citational practice of 'Stitch Theory', I am working on a series of illuminated manuscripts featuring citations predominantly from Black Feminist Studies and Black Radical Studies, as a form of continuing to think-feel through the otherwise possibilities of what I call devotional citation. 

The complex citational networks woven through my praxis are cultivated and sustained by attending to the "acknowledgements" of texts as points of departure. By focusing on the already existing networks of care and mutual support often foregrounded in acknowledgments, but not always represented in the citational pattern of the main body of the text, I seek to illuminate the ways in which care and mutuality already sit at the heart of the creation of many feminist, anti-colonial and queer texts. As Jennifer Nash proffers in the acknowledgments to black feminism reimagined after intersectionality, “the best of academic life [is] a deep generosity with ideas” (2018).

AHRC Research Synopsis: 

"Within traditional Western scholarship, the practice of reading is generally perceived as a solitary intellectual pursuit and the practice of critique considered a form of analysis based on judgement, hierarchization and refutation. This supposedly neutral image of the solitary scholar and the stringent regulations of Western scholarship have been formed through the colonial, patriarchal and classist history of the academy. Inspired by current urgent decolonial and feminist discussions embracing multiple ways of knowing and in conversation with the work of black feminist scholars such as Jennifer Nash, Amber Jamilla Musser and Saidiya Hartman, my research will investigate the complexities of reading and critique as material, social practices. 

The outcome of my project will be a new practice-as-research methodology for decolonial and feminist critique, grounded in what I call an expanded literacy. If literacy in its most basic sense is the ability to read and write, then an expanded literacy is one that enables the literate to read and write multimodally. Drawing on this expanded literacy, the methodology will be developed through embroidery and printmaking practices built upon the foundations of my existing citational practice of 'Stitch Theory', which involves reading, extracting, devotionally embroidering and gifting quotations from scholarly texts.

Following this thread, I will explore the imbrication of the supposedly domestic and gestural practice of embroidery and the purportedly public and static practice of printmaking. Through my engagement with these media I will elucidate how the circulation of scholarly thought is informed by material conditions and the perception of those materialities. The creation of the methodology will be advanced through a series of participatory workshops and interventions, allowing me to generate research material and challenge the chronically entrenched colonial and patriarchal conception of text as a fixed, linear object."


Side A of Mobile Tondo 1 (Open) featuring citations from Fred Moten, Black and Blur (2017) and P.A. Skantze, Moving Home at Hayward Gallery, London  (2012) and my own notes in the margins. October 2020. 


Side B of Mobile Tondo 1 (Open) featuring citations from Ashon T. Crawley, Black Pentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (2016), Edouard Glissant, The Poetics of Relation (1990), Amber Jamilla Musser, Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance (2018) and Jennifer C. Nash, Practising Love: Black Feminism, Love-Politics and Post-Intersectionality (2011). October 2020. 

Circulating Citations featuring citations from the work of Dionne Brand, Edouard Glissant, June Jordan, Tiffany Lethabo King, Katherine McKittrick, Fred Moten, Amber Jamilla Musser, Jennifer C. Nash, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and P.A. Skantze and my own notes in the margins. October 2020. 

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Tondo 1 featuring citation from Anne Dufourmantelle, The Power of Gentleness: Meditations on the Risk of Living (2018). August 2020.

This is How We Pray 1 featuring citations from Leonard Cohen, The Flame (2018), Ashon Crawley, The Lonely Letters (2020), Matthew Fink, The Pig and the Prince (unpublished manuscript, 2020), Fred Moten, This is How We Fellowship (Sunday Sermon, Trinity Church Wall Street 2020), Amber Jamilla Musser, Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance (20188, Emily Orley, The Creative Critic (2018), P.A. Skantze (unpublished manuscript, 2018) and my own words outside the quotation marks. August 2020.

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This is How We Pray 2 featuring citations from Gwendolyn Brooks, To The Young Who Want to Die (1986), Helene Cixous, The Laugh of the Medusa (1976), bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics (2000), Nikki Giovanni, Stardate 18628.190 (2002), June Jordan, Where is the Love? (1978), Ntozake Shange, rise up fallen fighters in From okra to greens (1984), P.A. Skantze, Itinerant Spectator/Itinerant Spectacle (2013), Alice Walter, Be Nobody's Darling in Revolutionary Petunias (1973) and my own words outside the quotations marks and within the margins. August 2020. 


Side A of Mobile Tondo 2 (Flesh) featuring citations from Helene Cixous, Coming to Writing (1986), Hortense Spillers, Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: An American Grammar Book (1987) and my own notes in the margin, reading: As I handle these words thoughts are seeping into my flesh, each stitch and stroke embodying the reciprocity between meaning and matter, plant and light, transparency and opacity (2020). November 2020.


Side B of Mobile Tondo 2 (Flesh) featuring citations from alexis pauline gumbs, DUB: Finding Ceremony (2020), LaMonda Horton-Stallings, Funk the Erotic: Transaesthetics and Black Sexual Cultures (2015), bell hooks, all about love (1999) and Jose Esteban Muñoz and Lisa Duggan, Hope and Hopelessness: A Dialogue (2009). November 2020.