Studio 9: Making things in the space of thinking

Studio brief

This studio is about dissertation writing and imagination, the space of thinking. It is designed to help you write a dissertation, identify a topic, research it, develop an argument, plan the writing and write it. But it is also about what writing a dissertation can tell us about imagination, the space of thinking, and draws parallels between making things (images and installations), and making things with words. 

The emphasis is on developing an argument — inhabiting and developing a conceptual stand and writing from it. But it is also about the role that metaphor plays in imagination and creativity, and how we use aspects everyday experience when putting arguments together. Using resent research on metaphor and conceptual blending, we will explore how writing can be understood as a form of making, a space where things can be put together so that they fit and cohere, or crumble and fall apart; something that can be defended, when others take aim at weak points in the argument. 

This studio is designed for people who enjoy writing and write a lot as well as those who do not enjoy writing at all, or find the idea of writing a dissertation daunting. It is particularly useful for people who wish to explore issues raised in their own work/studio practice in their dissertation. 

Summer preparation

Over the summer you will need to think about your dissertation topic. If you have a practice that involves making things (as a student of art or design for instance), what are the issues that keep coming up in your work, and that you are coming to think may be central to your practice? Writing about such issues can be a useful strategy, a strategy that can change your practice as you find out more and work through the issues.
The task is to identify a text that you find interesting and stimulating on an issue that is important to you. It will need to be a fairly academic book or paper. Take notes while you read it (read with a pen in your hand), and try to make sense of the text.
  • What is the key question being addressed?
  • What evidence is being offered to support the argument?
  • Do you think this is an interesting question? Can you think of a better question?

Week 1-7 

A series of workshops designed to highlight, explore, and hone different skills and aspects of dissertation writing, and explore underlying principles of thinking and argument. Workshops will include team debating games; writing workshops (exploring different types of writing, and strategies for writing); different ways of planning an argument, and strategies for painless dissertation writing.  
  1. Introduction.
    What is a dissertation? Shaking things apart, making things bright or sweet, and smashing them to pieces. Considering things separately. The structure of a dissertation. 
  2. Writing workshop: Getting started.
    Thinking circles, free association writing, note taking systems, "encoding", asking questions.
  3. Debating society
    Pitch your topic in a team. Working in teams from a text or image (at the heart of your topic), present the argument to the other group, who must try to find an argument against.
  4. Hand-in topic proposal with analysis of a quotation
    Metaphors and evidence: argument as war "Your claims are indefensible", argument as building "She demolished my argument." (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980). Bricks for building and to throw — finding some evidence.
  5. Going on a quest, and posing questions.
  6. Planning workshop.
    Different strategies for planning a dissertation, and a painless dissertation-writing method. Drawing an argument.
  7. Debating society.
    Debating your dissertation topic.

Reading list

  • Ayto, John, Dictionary of Word Origins (London: Bloomsbury, 1999)
  • Bergson, Henri, The Creative Mind, tr. M. L. Andison (New York: Citadel Press, 1992)
  • Cottrell, Stella, Critical Thinking Skills (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
  • Fernyhough, Charles, Pieces of Light, The New Science of Memory (London: Profile Books, 2012)
  • Groh, J. M. Making Space: How the Brain Knows Where Things Are (Cambridge, Massachusetts And London, England: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2014)
  • Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark, Metaphors We Live By (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1980)
  • Sharples, Mike, How We Write: Writing as Creative Design (London and New York: Routledge, 1999)
  • Turner M. The Origin of Ideas: Blending, Creativity, and the Humen Spark, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014)
Studio 9: Making things in the space of thinking


Tutor Linden Reilly

Tutor biography


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