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Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1753-5190
  • E-ISSN: 1753-5204



The narratives and nomenclature which surround doctoral supervision reflect inherited metaphors of hierarchy. Traditional doctoral theses in the humanities show, in addition, a conservative adherence to certain modes of discourse which serve these inherited narratives that assume a certain fixedness in identity constructions of the ‘supervisor’ and ‘supervisee’, or the ‘supervisor’/’student’; worst of all, perhaps, the ‘master’/‘apprentice’ schema. This article uncovers an alternative approach to the supervisory relationship (via a methodology of poetic inquiry) which aims to dismantle inherited mythologies in the supervisory discourse and places the doctoral student and supervisor as co-collaborators in the act of supervision. Through poetic inquiry, critical incidents in reflective practice can be crystallized, deconstructed and reconstructed in new configurations that reflect more genuine dynamics in the relationship than those accommodated via the traditional models and schemas pertaining to supervisory discourse.

This article is a record of two workshops between a doctoral candidate and her supervisor and their effect on both the student’s reflection of her thesis and also the nature of PhD supervision itself. Techniques from poetics and ‘tactile academia’ formed the basis of the exercises and began a dialogue between supervisor and candidate, placing their texts in colloquy, for example, the poetic vignettes in this paper are the supervisor’s poetic inquiries, crystallized moments, in response to the candidate’s reflection. This exchange presents a more active reality of the supervisory relationship where a student can be simultaneously expert and novice, a supervisor a beginner and officiate, and both participants are co-creators.


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