Sexuate difference in education and art
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Dundee
Unit of AssessmentPhilosophy
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: History and Philosophy of Specific Fields
Summary of the impact
The impact was on practitioners in art and education who used research on
sexuate difference in their practices. Sexuate differences are bodily,
social and cultural differences around gender that are not strictly based
on sexual difference; for instance, they can be cultural differences
around pregnancy. The research raised awareness of the significance of
gender in contemporary cultural production and the development of
educational practices. Three conferences and a network website generated
dialogue, new works and novel ways of thinking about gender across
artistic and educational communities. Public space for art works was made
available through a website and public events.
The project was underpinned by Dr Rachel Jones's (Lecturer, then Senior
Lecturer until August 2012) research in feminist philosophy produced
between 2000 and 2012. The main research work of international excellence
was a monograph, Irigaray: Towards a Sexuate Philosophy, on the
French feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray (2011). The monograph is in a
longstanding and influential series published by Polity Press, after
excellent reports from their international readers. The monograph has been
well-received in academic reviews, including International Journal of
Philosophical Studies 20 (5), 2012 and L'Esprit Créateur, Volume 52,
Number 3, Fall 2012. Alongside the monograph, Jones published an article
on Irigaray and Lyotard in Hypatia that explores many of the key
ideas linked to the impact: `Irigaray and Lyotard: Birth, Infancy, and
Metaphysics' (2011). Hypatia is one of the foremost international feminist
journals with a remit to broaden and refine feminist philosophy.
These two high level research outputs were prepared for by over a decade
of research on feminism and the work of Irigaray, beginning with the
chapter "Aesthetics in the Gaps: Subverting the Sublime for a Female
Subject" in Differential Aesthetics (2001). This was followed by
chapters on gender and philosophy in several edited collections; multiple
conference papers on feminist philosophy delivered in the UK, Europe,
Australia and North America; and invited papers on feminism and
embodiment, such as `Embodied Art: Thinking Through the Skin' for the Art,
Body, Embodiment: COGS interdisciplinary symposium (2005). Conferences
were organised by Jones around key ideas, such as the conference
`Natality, Embodiment and the Political: Feminist Conversations' in 2009.
This was further supported by editorial work for Women's Philosophy Review
and participation in the Women in Philosophy of Education Seminar hosted
by the University of Edinburgh (2010-12).
In the research, Jones argues that gender must be understood through the
concept of sexuate difference and that feminist thought, following
Irigaray, demonstrates the importance of sexuate difference in the social
and political place of women. The leading impact-oriented research
questions are then `What is the nature of sexuate difference?' and `How
should social and political structures take account of that difference?'
The insistence is on taking account of the differences between men and
women without seeing these as either simply biologically determined or
wholly culturally constructed, but as unfolding across lived experience in
ways that are inextricable from bodily, social and cultural
processes. This means challenging the dominant discourses of feminism
understood in terms of equality and asking how we can best attend to
difference in socio-political institutions and practices.
In order to bring these research ideas to practitioners in art and
education, Jones successfully applied for a grant designed to bring gender
and feminism into contemporary debates in art, science and education
(Royal Society of Edinburgh Funded Research Network in the Arts and
Humanities: Engendering Dialogue: feminist thought and contemporary
debates in art, science, and education. (award of £18,442 made June 2010;
project ran for 24 months from September 2010) The award of the grant was
itself recognition of the excellence of her research and of its potential
References to the research
1. Rachel Jones, Irigaray: Towards a Sexuate Philosophy (Polity, 2011).
2. `Irigaray and Lyotard: Birth, Infancy, and Metaphysics' Hypatia,
Volume 27, Issue 1, pages 139-162, Winter 2012. (DOI:
3. Jones, R 2000, 'Aesthetics in the Gaps: Subverting the Sublime for a
Female Subject'. in P Florence & N Foster (eds), Differential
Aesthetics: Art Practices, Philosophy and Feminist Understandings.
Ashgate, pp. 119. (ISBN: 9780754614937).
4. "The Relational Ontologies of Cavarero and B: Natality, Time and the
Self", in Alterity: Feminist Reflections in Ethics, ed. H. Fielding, G.
Hiltmann, and D. Olkowski (Palgrave, 2007). (DOI: 9780230506879).
5. R. Jones, co-edited, with C. Battersby, C. Constable, & J.
Purdom,, Going Australian: Reconfiguring Feminism and Philosophy, Hypatia
15 (2) Special Issue, May 2000. (DOI: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.2000.tb00310.x).
6. Dr Rachel Jones and Dr Helen Chapman were joint general editors of
Women's Philosophy Review (WPR), a refereed journal with an editorial
board of leading British academics in the field. WPR was the only
dedicated journal for feminist philosophy in the UK. As co-editor Dr Jones
oversaw the production of 5 issues from 2001 onwards.
Jones, R. Engendering Dialogue: Feminist Thought and Contemporary Debates
in Art, Science and Education. Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Network
Grant (2010 - 2012): £18,442.
Details of the impact
The research network, symposia, workshops, exhibitions and dialogues
allowed for the following specific impacts:
- increased awareness among educational and art practitioners of recent
feminist thought for educational and art practice; (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- increased awareness of pedagogical and artistic relations involving
gender, by creators, administrators, educationists and users; (1, 2, 3,
- dissemination of a range of strategies for negotiating gender issues,
based on feminist philosophy, prison and community education, philosophy
for children, and art practices. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7)
There were 26 respondents to a survey on the Engendering Dialogue events
(38% non-academics). 70 % agreed/strongly agreed these events
increased/developed their understanding of the significance of gender in
areas in which they work or practice. 85% of respondents agreed/strongly
agreed these events made them aware of new practices, approaches or
theories relevant to areas of work or practice. (4)
These figures, allied to responses from several individuals, suggest this
understanding and awareness are leading to concrete changes in practice.
For example, respondents said that the events:
- led directly to collaboration between two young artists who as a
result will be taking part in a women's art collective in Leith, July
- had a direct impact on gender related activities among young women in
Dundee: one participant notes the event gave her the confidence to help
establish a University feminist society and to attend a Rape Crisis
Scottish conference on her own; this generated contacts leading to a
Rape Crisis workshop for the Dundee feminist society (4);
- had a direct impact on teaching practice, this included one primary
school teacher and a teacher trainer (4).
Many participants testified to the value of cross-generational
networking, contact, and collaboration between theorists and practitioners
(in the arts and across different pedagogical contexts). The point of this
research and its impact is to facilitate such change by allowing concepts,
problems and practical strategies from feminist philosophy to gain
traction outside academia (80% of survey respondents agreed/strongly
agreed that the events were useful for stimulating/ supporting activities
outside academia). It thereby contributed to the Scottish Government aim
of raising gender awareness; increased awareness of philosophical
resources around gender; and added to changes in social networks as well
as pedagogical and art practice. (4, 6)
This development from increases in awareness and understanding to
concrete changes was supported by events bringing artists and
educationists together with researchers at symposia and exhibitions. The
following groups were brought together in events where new art works,
discussion papers and connections were forged around concepts developed in
the research. In parallel to a public lecture and symposium on feminism
and the visual arts, an exhibition was organised at the University's
Centrespace gallery (Dundee Contemporary Arts). A workshop was held to
allow young artists to benefit from contact with more established
practitioners and feminist philosophers. Artists involved included Eleanor
Morgan, Beth Savage, Hannah Champion, Beth Fisher, Janet McKenzie, Ingrid
Pollard and Gina Wall. (7)
A panel discussion on art and feminist philosophy with artists (Fisher,
Pollard and Wall) was held in the exhibition space as part of the
symposium; this was open to the public. Young Scottish artists (Savage and
Champion) produced performance pieces specifically for the project in
direct response to questions posed about bodies and gender by the feminist
philosophy that framed the event. The workshop and discussions explored
how gender does (and does not) affect art practice. All the events were
attended by Dr Jones, artists and theorists, including members of a
Dundee-based performance art collective. (1, 2, 3, 5)
For the work on feminist philosophy and education, a symposium was held
with teachers and individuals involved in teacher training (in the UK,
Ireland and the USA), philosophy for children, teaching within the prison,
and community education. Key participants were: Kath Jones, leader of
Blooming Minds, on the transformational effects of teaching of philosophy
in primary schools, accompanied by a student teacher involved in the
Blooming Minds project; Amy Shuffleton, Department of Educational
Foundations, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; Ann Louise Gilligan,
Director, Centre for Progressive Change, Dublin; and Merlyn Riggs, an
Aberdeen-based artist and facilitator working with food to generate
educational interventions, particularly in relation to work with
prostitutes and the police. A particular focus at the symposium was the
significance of gender in the context of work and education in prisons,
with Jim King, Head of Offender Learning & Skills Services, Scottish
Prison Service, and filmmaker Jonathan Cummins, working with political
prisoners in Northern Ireland. (1, 2, 3, 5)
Sources to corroborate the impact
- Network website: http://engenderingdialogue.wordpress.com/.
- Network conference programmes (available on request).
- Conference exhibition showing works of art resulting directly from the
Network events (pdfs available on request).
- Participant feedback (qualitative and quantitative) on network
collected via anonymised survey on SurveyMonkey (available on request).
- Press release for symposium 2:
- Published report from Royal Society of Edinburgh on the Network and
- Testimony from Warwick academic on the impact of the links developed
at the impact events for the case-study (available on request).