On Not Staying Put: Georges Perec’s ‘Inter(in)disciplinarity’ as an Approach to Research

Joanne Lee


In a critique of contemporary universities, the philosopher and art theorist Gerald Raunig contends that ‘wild and transversal writing is tamed and fed into the creativity-destroying apparatuses of disciplining institutions’ wherein researchers are required ‘to squeeze the last vestiges of their powers of invention into the straitjacket of the essay industry.' At the heart of this ‘taming’ lies what he describes as researchers’ subjection to the ‘fetish of method’ and a reduction of the modes of expression, forms and styles of writing, which he claims ‘have brought about a crass uniformity in the languages in which academics can publish.’

In this situation, Georges Perec’s generous creative and critical experiments, and his ‘inter-in-disciplinarity (a term coined by Johnnie Grattan and Michael Sheringham) seem to counter some of the circumscriptions upon method within the contemporary academy. Via attention to the investigation of actual sites, and a series of spatial metaphors – of not staying put and crossing borders, of meandering and getting sidetracked, of oscillating or shimmering between positions – I want to reflect upon Perec’s passage through conceptual fields, in order to draw out some potential implications for academic research through practice. Perec’s willingness ‘just to see what happens’ offers an invitation to wander beyond our disciplinary boundaries: using the project and essay forms as methodological tools, along with the role of the ‘knowing’ amateur, I will argue for alternative, more mobile considerations of the intellectual and affective rigour applied to creative and critical work.


artistic research; essay; inter(in)disciplinarity; spatial metaphor; practice; project

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