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I am delighted to have been awarded a PhD in Language, Discourse, and Communication from King’s College London.

The thesis demonstrates that far from lying outside of craft practice, language -specifically situated talk between crafts professionals, is a key component of the creative process.

The thesis can be downloaded as a PDF from the King’s College theses repository here.

Abstract.
This thesis examines the situated language practices of a group of professional
craftspeople. I proceed from a crafts literature whose orthodoxy is that craft
practices and language are antithetical. My contribution to knowledge is to show
that in contradistinction to the orthodoxy language is shown in this thesis to be a
primary tool of meaning-making in the participants’ working lives.

Data, as audio recordings and subsequent transcripts were drawn from a case
study; a series of talks that ran concurrently with an exhibition of the key
participants’ work at a London gallery. The analysis pays close attention to the
local, situated, talk-in-interaction of the exhibiting craftspeople and the other
participants as they orient to a range of professional concerns.

I show how, as a particular field of the visual arts, craft has been shaped by its
discourses, but argue that the local situated talk of the people that practise those
crafts have rarely been attended to. Grounded in narrative methods and
performance, the analysis reveals how talk as social practice enables the
participants to position and categorise themselves and others in the local context
as part of a wider landscape of professional roles and positions. The participants
make available and work with locally-resonant concepts and meanings, mobilise
reflective analysis and critique, negotiate membership, and exhibit affiliation to
material resources, often by symbolic means. The participants’ use of narrative in
the data tends toward unrehearsed, fragmentary speech that emerges in the
here-and-now as part of ongoing accounts of working lives, thus prompting an
orientation to small story research. As both a method and critical position, a small
stories perspective enables the revealing of under-reported and non-canonical
spoken contributions. Such an approach supports an understanding of the
concerns of craft practices. Meaning-making is thus seen as an emergent social
practice distinct from the distant descriptions often offered by much of the
canonical literature.

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