The AILA Research Network on Creative Inquiry in Applied Linguistics was formed in early 2018. The ReN aims to be a central research network for applied linguistics researchers seeking to understand what the relationship between communication and the creative arts is and can be.
We take as our starting point Patricia Leavy’s definition of creative inquiry as ‘any social research or human inquiry that adapts the tenets of the creative arts as a part of the methodology’ (2014: 1). Creativity and the arts are becoming increasingly integrated in applied linguistics research as scholarly attention turns to dynamic multilingualism, multimodality and superdiversity (Adami 2017; Blackledge and Creese 2017) and co-production (McKay and Bradley 2016). However, there has not thus far been a central space for discussion of the ways in which applied linguists engage with the arts – as context, as methodology, as epistemology, as ontology. This research network will create such a space, and will be led by convenors and members involved in a range of research projects engaging in different ways with creative inquiry (which a number of us presented at an invited colloquium at the 2017 meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics in Leeds). The Research Network will also contribute to meeting our professional responsibility to challenge the rise of exclusionary discourses and ‘post-truth’ politics across the globe, following Adrian Blackledge’s claim that ‘never have we needed the arts more than we do now’ (Blackledge 2017; see https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/generic/tlang/digital-stories/index.aspx). The network therefore also welcomes researchers who are not explicitly working with the arts but who have an interest in researching collaboratively across disciplines, sectors and communities for social and epistemological justice; working in partnership and solidarity with the marginalised and the voiceless; and enabling the articulation of what was previously unarticulated, unknown, unheard and undervalued.
The broad areas of focus will be:
- the affordances of arts-based methods for understanding and researching communication – drawing, painting, photography, collage, drama, music, creative writing, culinary arts – particularly in contexts of education, community and belonging (e.g. Atkinson and Bradley 2017; Frimberger 2016; Huang 2017; MacKay and Bradley 2016; Pöyhönen 2017);
- applied linguistic methods for researching contexts of creative inquiry and artistic practices (e.g. linguistic, visual and sensory ethnography for researching creative practices, or the translation of research findings into creative modes) (e.g. Bradley 2017; Bradley, Moore, Simpson and Atkinson 2017; Bradley and Moore 2018; Moore et al. 2018);
- the role of arts and creative practice in the dissemination of applied linguistics research to wider publics (e.g. Harvey 2017; Harvey and Vanden 2017);
- arts as the objects of communication research, e.g. as multimodal artefacts and means of communication in specific social and political contexts (e.g. Lee 2015; Crowley 2017);
- the role of creative inquiry in generating new ways of thinking about the relationship between language, knowledge, and the world (e.g. Bradley 2017; Harvey and Vanden 2017; Harvey 2018; Moore et al. 2018).