Thought in Motion: Erin Manning’s Imperatives for Educational Research and Qualitative Inquiry
Abstract and Rationale
In a politics attuned to emergent difference, we must begin instead in the midst, where force has not yet tuned to form. In this middle, where the event is still welling, there is potential for new diagrams of life-living to be drawn.
—Manning, 2016, p. 15
Qualitative researchers have recently begun to think with the philosophy of Erin Manning. In particular, her concepts of the minor gesture (Flint & Guyotte, 2019; Myers, Cannon, & Bridges-Rhoads, 2017; Nordstrom, 2018), research-creation (Powell, 2015; Springgay & Truman, 2017; Sweet, Nurminen & Koro-Ljungberg, 2020), fielding and attunement (Bridges-Rhoads, 2018; Cannon, in press) and thought-in-the-act (Truman & Springgay, 2015; Ulmer, 2018; Van Cleave, 2018) are beginning to be taken up in methodological texts. This special issue aims to create a dedicated space to examine the potential implications and possibilities that a sustained and focused engagement with Erin Manning’s philosophical project carries for qualitative methodology in the field of educational research.
Our engagements in research carry ethical and political resonances that extend beyond the boundaries of concretized ideas about data, methods, analysis, and gold standard findings. Beginning in the midst of these resonances, Erin Manning’s process philosophy attunes researchers to the potential of difference. She grounds her philosophy in the notion that doing is thinking, that there is thought in the act, and that philosophy is an experimental practice that coexists with art; it is “pathfinding in the making” (Manning & Massumi, 2013, n.p.). Further, Manning posits that research and creation come together in their product, and the product is always ongoing, always becoming, always in process. Thought with qualitative inquiry, “the conjunction between research and creation […] make[s] apparent how modes of knowledge are always at cross-currents with one another” (Manning, 2016, p. 41).
During a 2013 TEDx talk, Manning discussed the need to maintain the hyphen in research-creation (Manning & Massumi, 2013). She attests that the hyphen highlights the interactions between art and philosophy and that these interactions may reach toward a politics to come. “Research-creation animates the strangeness in the everyday by reminding us of a lived reality of relation too often obscured by a retroactive distancing between mind/body, self/other, subject/object, artist/artwork, discovery/invention” (Thain, 2008, p. 2). The hyphens between art-research-creation move inquiry away from research as the production of an artifact to a process
that “reaches toward” (Manning, 2013). This process highlights the always already interconnectedness of philosophy, art, and research; the hyphen bridges research with creation to produce something seeking, ongoing and always incomplete. Manning’s philosophies offer entry points for thinking-doing qualitative inquiry and pedagogy differently while pushing for action and community change. Manning’s philosophy expands the potential for qualitative research to “invent open problems that bring us together in the mode of active inquiry” (Manning, 2016, p. 10).
The purpose of this special issue is to consider how Manning's philosophical project creates movement within the field of qualitative inquiry in educational research. We imagine that in thinking/moving with her philosophy researchers will think/do/act qualitative inquiry in the field of educational research differently. To say it another way, we want to see how her philosophy might help researchers reconceptualize educational research methodologies. We are keenly interested in those differences. Rather than providing a list of questions that may foreclose unthought possibilities, we invite qualitative thinking/doing/acting with Manning’s (2008) call for “Creative Propositions for Thought in Motion”:
Edit from within! Become world! Value, don't evaluate! Lure the feeling! Know not what a body can do! Create with concepts! Make multiple sense! Affirm all that appears! Play the differential! Speculate! Engage relations of tension! Make the relations felt! Create degrees of intimacy! Propose! Transduce! Create affinities of purpose! Forget what you feel! Return the return! Transvaluate! Pay attention! Go to the limit!
The editors of this special issue seek considerations and creations that take up Manning’s imperatives in relation to ongoing conversations within the field of educational research. We invite contributions from across the fields of art, philosophy, and the social sciences that expand their fields or make them indeterminate, that make inventive connections, that reimagine possibilities, and that consider the yet to come for educational research and qualitative inquiry.
Bridges-Rhoads, S. (2018). Philosophical fieldnotes. Qualitative Inquiry, 24(9), 646–660. doi.org/10.1177/1077800417733498
Cannon, S. O. (in press). Field guide to academic becoming. Qualitative Inquiry.
Flint, M. A., & Guyotte, K. W. (2019). Pedagogies of the minor gesture: Artful mentorship in college teaching. Visual Inquiry, 8(1), 63–75. doi.org/info:doi/10.1386/vi.8.1.63_1
Manning, E. (2008). Creative propositions for thought in motion. INFleXions, 1(1), 1–24. Retrieved from: http://www.senselab.ca/inflexions/n1_Creative-Propositions-for-Thought-in-Motion-by-Erin-Manning-1.pdf
Manning, E. (2013) Always more than one: Individuation’s dance. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Manning, E. (2016). For a pragmatics of the useless, or the value of the infrathin. Political Theory, 45(1), 97–115. doi.org/10.1177/0090591715625877
Manning, E. & Massumi, B. (2013, March). Relational soup—Philosophy, art, and activism. Presented at TedxCalArts, Los Angeles, CA. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2yHtYdI4bE
Myers, K. D., Cannon, S. O., & Bridges-Rhoads, S. C. (2017). Math is in the title: (Un)learning the subject in educational research. International Review of Qualitative Research, 10(3), 309–326. https://doi.org/10.1525/irqr.2017.10.3.309.
Nordstrom, S. N. (2018). Antimethodology: Postqualitative generative conventions. Qualitative Inquiry, 24(3), 205–226. doi/10.1177/1077800417704469
Powell, K. (2015). Breathing photography: Prosthetic encounters in research-creation. Qualitative Inquiry, 21(6), 529–538. doi.org/10.1177/1077800415581889
Springgay, S., & Truman, S. E. (2017). Walking methodologies in a more-than-human world: WalkingLab. New York, NY: Routledge.
Sweet, J. D., Nurminen, E., & Koro-Ljungberg, M. (2020). Becoming research with shadow work : Combining artful inquiry with research-creation. Qualitative Inquiry, 26(3-4). https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800419857764
Thain, A. (2008). Affective commotion: Minding the gaps in research-creation. INFleXions, 1(1), 1–12. Retrieved from: http://www.senselab.ca/inflexions/n1_Affective-Commotion-Minding-the-Gaps-in-Research-Creation-by-Alanna-Thain.pdf
Truman S. E., & Springgay S. (2015) The primacy of movement in research-creation: new materialist approaches to art research and pedagogy. In T. Lewis & M. Laverty (Eds.), Art's teachings, teaching's art. Contemporary philosophies and theories in education (151–162), Dordrecht, NL: Springer.
Ulmer, J. B. (2018). Composing techniques: Choreographing a post-qualitative writing practice. Qualitative Inquiry, 24(9), 728–736. doi/10.1177/1077800417732091
Van Cleave, J. (2018). Engaging uselessness: Philosophical reading and dwelling in the excess. Qualitative Inquiry, 24(9), 681–686. doi.org/10.1177/1077800417732092
Note: Erin Manning has agreed to compose a 1000-1500 word commentary on the special issue.
● Call for 250-500 word proposals distributed: April 1, 2020
● Resend call May 15, 2020
● Proposals Due: July 15, 2020
● Notification to Authors: September 1, 2020
● Manuscripts Due: December 15, 2021
● Manuscripts sent out for review: January 4, 2021
● Peer-Reviews Due: March 1, 2021
● Notification Letters to Authors: April 1, 2021
● Revisions Due June 1, 2021
● Issue Submitted to RERM: August 1, 2021
Special Issue Editors’ names and affiliations;
Joseph D. Sweet is an Assistant Professor of English Education at the University of North Carolina, Pembroke.
Maureen A. Flint is an Assistant Professor in Qualitative Research at the University of Georgia.
Susan Ophelia Cannon is an Assistant Professor of Education at Mercer University
David Lee Carlson is an Associate Professor of Qualitative Methodology at Arizona State University.
Corresponding e-mail Joseph D. Sweet