"Synaesthography" as a Felt Method of Currere:
Mutually Causative Art-Based Storytelling
and Emergent Inquiry for Collective Care
Among K-12 Public School Teachers Imagining Otherwise
Dissertation by: Elissa Bryant, Ph.D.
Texas Christian University
Intro to Findings
A large portion of the website is not available to the participants yet, as my "dissertation committee" is currently reading and giving me their feedback for any revisions needed.
The content that the committee is reading is primarily in the format of about 200 pages of academic-style writing that gives an in-depth analysis of the theoretical and philosophical foundations of the work. Typically, this is the content that would be published or broken up into multiple publications for several academic journals after the completion of the degree.
I have decided not to publish this work in any format that would limit its accessibility to the public for several reasons. Primarily, this is because I feel the ethic of the project would be undermined by my decision to publish it in such a way that I am positioned as the only ongoing beneficiary of the mutual effort in this work. I also consider the participants to be co-authors who should have full authority in making decisions regarding the distribution and/or withholding of their art. The participants do not have institutional affiliations that would allow for them to engage with the academic publication process, or even to have access the potential publications. In a broader sense, I am increasingly uneasy with the ethical implications of publishing any of my work in any subscription-based academic journals, and given the expectations that scholars are expected to pay money (even if reimbursed by institutions) to contribute their own work, for free, to a for-profit "open-access" journal, I don't feel much better about that, either. I'll continue to consider what that means for my scholarship going forward.
I am instead working on reformatting this written academic content to be more reader-friendly for general audiences, arranged in more visually appealing and less overwhelming formats, in order to make most of it available on the website for the 'audience'.
This online "audience" will been given varying levels of access to the content,
and potential opportunities for participation
(though no longer as a part of the TCU 'study', which has been completed).
Access will depend on each audience members' personal relationship(s) with either myself or the participants (explained in detail below). The website will remain a "living" and (in)complete narrative for as long as I am able to keep it online.
My intent in calling this art-based method of currere a "synaesthography" is to convey the mutually causative nature of the work itself, the aesthetic nature of the felt analysis, and the co-created narrative that results from the ongoing contributions of the 'audience' invited (or not) by the participants. I derived this term from the prefix 'syn', meaning 'together' (e.g. synapse, synthesis, synchronous); the root word 'aesthet', meaning 'to feel or perceive' in relation to art or beauty (e.g. aesthetic, anesthetic); and the suffix 'ography', meaning 'to write about' (e.g. ethnography, biography, geography). I devised this term after coming to the conclusion that the available methodological descriptors weren't relevant to the fundamentals of this work, which both is and is not autobiographical, is and is not an ethnography, is and is not a narrative inquiry... among other (un)suitable (im)possible terms. I was unable to find "synaesthography" in use in any other context, aside from learning of aneurological condition called "synesthesia", wherein an individual perceives mutually causative aesthetic sensations (e.g. seeing music as a color, or smelling an image). This neurodivergent condition surprised me as an apt metaphor for this methodology, and I debated removing the 'a' from 'aesthetic' to reflect this, as the spellings are often used interchangibly. I am particuarly interested in the connections that can be drawn here to a 'Queering' of analysis as well as the disruption of neurotypical norms for 'individual' creative capacity invoked by the term. Ultimately, I decided to leave the 'a' as an acknowledgment of the influence of philosophical aesthetics on the humanities and qualitative research fields informing my methods. Retaining the 'a' is also intended to differentiate the term from the neurological condition, so as not to obscure any developments in medical research.
The Findings Menu
The information below will only be given to
participants and committee members.
No Sauce (Public Access)- Password: Onion
*These pages aren't password protected, but entering "Onion" as a password will redirect users here.
A diversion zone for people who may feel left out or 'victimized' by the existence of a "password protected" area, and need to be reassured that they've been fully included so that they'll move on, but who haven't (yet) established themselves as trustworthy in their relationships with myself and/or participants. Instead of links to the scholarship and activist origins of the work, this page will include links to a variety of current events surrounding the present context of public education in Texas. At the end, they will not be directed to either of the discussion forums. Anyone will be able to see these pages when they want to access my dissertation from the "teaching healing" website. I plan to use this site as the home page for a variety of other projects that will not be directly linked to this one. These pages represent a very "skeletal" version of the felt-analysis of the work.
Windigo Medicine (Password Protected)- Password: Windigo
For trustworthy potential participants who may still need to be vetted in a more limited discussion forum, allies who need a wake-up call from a more honest look at history, and for participants to exercise self-care in whether or not they find the potentially triggering content included in this portion of felt-analysis is nourishing (e.g. first hand accounts of indigenous boarding schools). This is not a decoy page, and represents a full half of the complete felt-analysis, so I would encourage anyone with full access to go through both the 'Windigo Medicine' and the 'Soul Food' portions. I decided to separate them so that participants who are already intimately familiar with the violent histories of colonization can engage at their own pace (or not), and also to deny access to the "good stuff" for participants who tend toward toxic-positivity and are either not aware of this history or think focusing on it is "too negative" to be of great importance in the process of cultivating 'hope' as a decision (Ikeda, 2017) or a discipline (Kaba, 2020) rather than as mere optimism. Such participants can be stuck here with what they think is the complete analysis until they establish more trust via the open forum or by building relationships, at which point someone might decide to give them the 'Soul Food' password.
Audience members who have been given either of the above passwords will not be aware that there are multiple passwords they could have been given.
This means they will not know that they are having a different experience on the website depending on their password, unless they are told about this feature by myself or the other participants.
**It took a lot of coding research for me to figure this out! Self-five for me!**
Audience members who have the 'Soul Food' password below will be given all three passwords via a link to this page on their landing page.
They can distribute access to each version of the site to others as they see fit.
This password also grants access to private discussion forums, a file sharing function for community resources, and a shared art gallery.
'Soul Food' (Password Protected)- Password: GraceLeeBoggs
For people who have established trust in their relationships with myself and/or participants in this work, and are ready to engage in creating "otherwise worlds" in education that are anti-racist and decolonial. This page is meant to engage participants in "hopeful imagination", and will include access to all of the inspirational scholarship and activists that have nourished this project from the beginning, along with a forum where participants can engage in conversations about possibilities for resistance offering "hope" in education, and can contribute their thoughts as either literal or fictionalized, via language, art, or music. These additional features can be engaged via personal and/ or anonymous profiles the audience can request from me through the site. As the sole site-admin, I am the only one with access to members' real names and email addresses, on their individual profiles, any "Display Name" can be created, and contact information set to private. Whether or not this space grows into anything more than I initially put on the website is up to participants and how motivated they are to continue to share and/or engage with it. If it gains any momentum, I plan to use this space to share upcoming events and coordinate future cooperative projects.