Francis M A (2008) In the Café Flaubert. Journal of Writing in Creative Practice. Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 133–149
Combining a theoretical investigation with a creative writing approach, this article radically extends debates about art-practice as research by proposing its logical inversion: that research beyond art-practice can take creative form, which in this text is realised as fictional writing. Expanding the scope of art-writing to include forms of academic journal publication, this considers the theoretical and pedagogical benefits of understanding ‘thinking through writing’ as a form of art.
Building on the reviews Francis wrote for Untitled magazine in the late 90s, which tested the relationship between fictional dialogue and art-criticism, this article presents a philosophical analysis of Richard Rorty’s writings on (anti-)representationalism with a fictional, Socratic dialogue that employs ideas of characterisation, narrative and mise-en-scène. Resurrecting Renaissance and Classical ideas of ‘teaching through delight’, this article investigates through a creative writing practice John Wood’s contention that the academic essay might not be the best form of expression for the creative practitioner – either as writer or reader (The Culture of Academic Rigour, 1999). Through both its form and content, the article questions how art-writing might be embedded into art and design criticism and shows the pedagogical benefits to blending fictive and factual forms of writing.
Realising the aims of the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice (JWCP), Francis’ article provides a way of thinking through writing that parallels the visual discourse of art and design practice. The text was reviewed positively in a Higher Education Academy review (13 July 2009) of the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice and, with similar publications, resulted in an invitation to run an art-writing course at Tate Modern and related consultancy.