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27 MARCH 2015

Is Universal Design a Critical Theory?

"Universal design is a term that was first used in the United States by Ron Mace (1985) although forms of it were quite prevalent in Europe long before. For the purpose of this chapter Universal Design is defined as 'the design of all products and environments to be usable by people of all ages and abilities to the greatest extent possible (Story, 2001, p.10.3). Universal design in recent years has assumed growing importance as a new paradigm that aims at a holistic approach ranging in scale from product design (Balaram, 2001) to architecture (Mace, 1985), and urban design (Steinfield, 2001) on one hand and systems of media (Goldberg, 2001) and information technology (Brewer, 2001) on the other.

Given the popularity, Universal design still remains largely atheoretical i..e. the researchers of Universal design do not explicitly affiliate themselves to any form of theoretical paradigm. One of the reason is perhaps because Universal design is a melting point between cross paradigms. By paradigms I mean basic orientations to theory and research (Newman, 1997, p.62). In this sense Universal design can come under functionalist paradigm (because it caters to utility), pragmatic (because it is instrumental in nature), positivistic (because it strives for universal principles), normative (because it prescribes certain rules) and critical theorist paradigms (because it gives voice to the oppressed).

Conventionally the word universal is synonymous to general and refers to a set of principles that are stable, timeless and value free. In this sense universal design could be interpreted as deriving from a positivist paradigm. However, given its history and perspective, and with the universal design examples I provide, I will demonstrate several instances where the universals do change, are time bound and value laden. In this sense I argue that Universal design follows a critical theory paradigm in its conception and knowledge generation. By conception I mean how universal design came into being as a body of concepts and by knowledge generation I mean how the concepts pervade and are shared by the community of researchers."

(Newton D'Souza, 2004)

D’souza, N.: 2004, Chapter 1: "Is Universal Design a Critical Theory?" Keates, S., Clarkson, J., Langdon, P., Robinson, P. (eds.) Designing a more Inclusive World. Springer - Verlog, pp: 3-10, 5th University of Cambridge, UK.

TAGS

2004 • all abilities • atheoretical • basic orientations to theory and research • critical theory • cross paradigms • defined rules • designing for usability • Edward Steinfeld • functional purpose • functional utility • functionalist paradigmholistic approachinclusive design • instrumental in nature • Judy Brewer • Larry Goldberg • Molly Story • Newton DSouza • normativepositivism • positivist paradigm • positivistic • pragmatic considerationsproduct design • Ron Mace • Singanapalli Balaram • theoretical context • theoretical paradigm • universal accessuniversal designuniversal principlesusable

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
14 APRIL 2012

Google Scholar: gateway to published scholarly research

"Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research."

(Google Inc.)

Fig.1 Uploaded by Google on 6 Jan 2012

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TAGS

2004academic essayacademic journal • academic publisher • academic publishers • academic writingArt and Design Index to Thesesassignment writingcitation as a form of persuasionconference proceedings • court opinions • dissertation • education materials • essay writing • gateway to scholarly articles • Google IncGoogle Scholar • information aggregation • knowledge gapknowledge integrationknowledge repositorylist of research sourcesliterature reviewliterature search • online repositories • patentspeer-reviewed journalspublished research • published scholarly research • relevant work • research abstractresearch articlesresearch dissertationresearch projectresearch scholarship • scholarly literature • scholarly researchscholarshipsearchsearch for informationtheoretical contexttheoretical gapthesesthesis • university press

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
14 APRIL 2012

Practising Theatre History as Research

"Much current scholarship in the field of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, including my own, focuses on the actual performance of plays in their own or later periods, regarding the texts that survive as, in different ways, blueprints for performance, and exploring them in the context of their performance spaces, actors and theatre–practice and of other agencies such as audiences that impact upon those texts in performance. My own research in these areas is largely conducted through practice.

But let me just sketch a brief background. In 1998, a sea–change occurred in the lives of arts (as opposed to humanities) researchers in the UK, with the creation of the Arts & Humanities Research Board (now Council) which, for the first time, funded practice–led research in the creative arts. I cannot stress too heavily the impact this had on the landscape of research in the performing arts.

That's not to say, of course, that research through practice had not been conducted before then. If I take my own department at Bristol as an example, scholars such as Glynne Wickham, Richard Southern and Neville Denny were experimenting from the early 1950s by staging medieval and early modern plays, and using their findings in their published work.

But the arrival of the AHRB not only provided funding for practice–led research in the academy, but in so doing, confirmed it as being as valid and – not to be underestimated – as respectable as research conducted through more traditional or conventional means. And – a point to which I shall return – it opened up debates not only on how such research might most profitably be conducted, but how it might be disseminated in forms other than the books or journal articles that had predominated – and be disseminated, in fact, through the practice/performance itself."

(Martin White)

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TAGS

1950s1998AHRBAHRCArts and Humanities Research BoardArts and Humanities Research Council • blueprints for performance • Bristolconducting researchcontribution to knowledge • Cornish • Cornish Ordinalia • Cornwallcreative artsdesign researchdesign researcherdissemination through performance • dissemination through practice • early modern period • Elizabethan drama • fourteenth century • funding for practice-led research • Glynne Wickham • history of theatre • Jacobean drama • journal articlesmedieval • medieval mystery plays • model of enquiry • Neville Denny • Ordinalia • Origo Mundi • Passio Christi • passion of Christperformance researchperformance spacesperforming arts • plays • practice as research in performancepractice-led research • practising theatre • publishing and disseminationresearch dissemination • research in the performing arts • research scholarshipresearch through practice • researchers in the UK • Resurrexio Domini • Richard Southern • staging • surviving texts • texts in performance • the academytheatre • theatre audiences • theatre history • theatre practice • theatrical performancetheoretical contextUKvalid scholarship

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
27 NOVEMBER 2011

Writing an Abstract

"An abstract is a short summary of your completed research. If done well, it makes the reader want to learn more about your research.

These are the basic components of an abstract in any discipline:

1) Motivation/problem statement: Why do we care about the problem? What practical, scientific, theoretical or artistic gap is your research filling?

2) Methods/procedure/approach: What did you actually do to get your results? (e.g. analyzed 3 novels, completed a series of 5 oil paintings, interviewed 17 students)

3) Results/findings/product: As a result of completing the above procedure, what did you learn/invent/create?

4) Conclusion/implications: What are the larger implications of your findings, especially for the problem/gap identified in step 1?

However, it's important to note that the weight accorded to the different components can vary by discipline. For models, try to find abstracts of research that is similar to your research."

(UC Berkeley, 2004)

TAGS

abstract (academic writing) • academic writing • artistic gap • knowledge gap • practical gap • problem statement • researchresearch abstractresearch methodsresearch paper • scientific gap • theoretical contexttheoretical gapUC Berkeley

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
27 NOVEMBER 2011

Bioglyphs: Generating images in collaboration with nature's events

"Reconstructive postmodernism proposes an alternative to a mechanistic interpretation of the world. The mechanistic model, which assumes that the world consists of discrete objects, has led to a 'disenchanted' interpretation of nature. In contrast to this objectification, the reconstructive model interprets nature as being primarily constituted of interacting events.

Since the 1960s ecological artists have developed strategies of representing this reenchanted view of nature through its phenomena or events. A number of these artists have sought to use photography to represent this view. However when such works are presented in photographic form I argue that the use of a camera tends to objectify the event.

In order to avoid the objectifying tendency of photography a number of contemporary artists have developed photographic methods of image–making which dispense with the camera. Bioglyphs, the creative practice of this current research, have been linked to the work of this group because of a shared approach to the use of photographic materials. However, if we assess the role of icon and index within photography, we can see that this approach may not always be sympathetic to the project of these artists.

Three key outcomes are identified. The first is the clarification of the concepts icon and index as applied to photography. Photographic images are shown to be primarily iconic rather than indexical. The thesis argues that iconic images tend to objectify the world whereas indexical images tend to represent the world as being constituted by events. Iconic photographic images therefore contribute to a disenchanted view of the world.

The second is that this reassessment of icon and index highlights a clear distinction between bioglyphs and most of the other camera–less images with which they are associated. In contrast to the iconicity of camera–less photographs bioglyphs are shown to be radically indexical. The third outcome is to show that, methodologically and interpretationally, bioglyphs have more affiliation with other artworks that are primarily indexical. This realignment of bioglyphs with other indexical art proposes a new category of art practice. This new category of indexical art, which foregrounds nature's events, suggests a method of art practice that is more supportive of reconstructive postmodern ideas."

(Daro Montag, 2000)

Montag, D. "Bioglyphs: generating images in collaboration with nature's events". PhD, University of Hertfordshire, 2000.

TAGS

art practice • bioglyph • camera-less • camera-less images • contemporary artcreative practice • disenchanted • ecological artists • icon • icon and index • iconic photographic images • iconicity • image making • image-making • index • indexical • indexical art • indexical images • interacting events • interpretation of nature • mechanistic interpretations • mechanistic modelnature • objectification • objectify • objectify the event • objectifying tendency • objectifying tendency of photography • phenomena • photographic form • photographic images • photographic materials • photographic methods • photographyreconstructive model • reconstructive postmodernism • theoretical contextthesisUniversity of Hertfordshireview of nature

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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