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Synergy in art and language: positioning the language specialist in contemporary fine art study

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In this article, we look at data based on the work of EAP (English for Academic Purposes) practitioners at Goldsmiths College, University of London in the 1990s collected for the purposes of identifying the generic characteristics of two contexts in contemporary fine art study; the tutorial and the postgraduate dissertation. The rhetorical moves on the part of the tutor in the intercultural tutorials and a micro-analysis of the language used in the introductory sections of selected, positively evaluated MA student dissertations form the basis of our analysis and interpretation. We see the aim of both of those genres as facilitating development, both with regard to the individual student’s development of practice, and in respect of integrating theoretical perspectives into assessed writing. While the spoken mode of the tutorial primarily mediates reflection on, critique of, and thence development of practice, the written mode promotes an engagement with theory that is reflected back in the writing. We further suggest that development in both cases is dialectical, and that the language work and visual work in tandem have synergistic effects. In conclusion, we reiterate the synergy between the visual and the verbal and suggest that this synergy can be re-enacted in collaborative strategies between art tutors and language tutors in the wider development of students’ communicative practice.
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Keywords: English for specific purposes; academic writing in fine art; genre analysis; tutor-student interaction

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Goldsmiths College, University of London 2: Auckland University of Technology

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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