Calendar of Events

Guest Lecture: Helen Phelan, University of Limerick, Ireland

“The Butterfly Unpinned: The Role of Arts-Based and Arts Practice Methods in Contemporary Research”

  1. Wednesday February 19 11:30am
Walgreen Drama Center, Room B207

The symbiotic relationship between cerebral and corporeal intelligence systems - between the brain and the body - is central to how we understand and perform. The growing recognition of this connection has had a profound influence on the development of curriculum, teacher training and research.  The integration of artistic practices into the research process is a key aspect of this development. This presentation looks at two approaches to the use of artistic contemporary research: arts-based and arts practice methods. 
Arts-based research draws on a variety of practices including poetry, drawing song-writing, improvisation, composition and performance across all phases of research including data collection, analysis, interpretation and representation (Leavy, 2015). In Arts Practice research, artistic practice is a key method of exploration and forms a substantial part of the submitted evidence around the research inquiry (Nelson, 2013).
This presentation discusses strategies for the inclusion of arts-based or arts practice approaches in contemporary research, looking at questions of expertise, ethics, representation, dissemination and appropriateness to the research question. It concludes with a case study of arts-based research that uses singing as a tool of social and cultural integration in an Irish primary school.


Helen Phelan is professor of arts practice at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, Ireland. She is an Irish Research Council recipient for her work on singing and new migrant communities in Ireland. Her most recent book, Singing the Rite to Belong: Music, Ritual and the New Irish, was published by Oxford University Press in 2017. As a singer and ritual scholar, she specializes in chant associated with religious rituals and is co-founder of the female vocal group Cantoral, who released their much-acclaimed CD recording of Irish medieval chant in 2014. She serves on the editorial boards of a number of journals including Frontiers in Psychology, The International Journal of Community Music and Experiments and Intensities: A Journal for Performance-as-Research. She is founder of the Singing and Social Inclusion research group and a member of the University of Limerick Sanctuary board. Her primary research interests are in singing, ritual and migration as well as arts-based and arts practice research methods. Her most recent project, funded by the Health Research Board, explores the use of arts-based methods in migrant health research.

Free - no tickets required