Creative Research Option for the PhD Dissertation

The creative research option is available to cultural producers with an established practice and/or academic qualifications in relevant disciplines (music, theatre, creative writing, visual arts, etc.) who are interested in engaging their practice with rigorous humanities-based theory and scholarship. The mandate of Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto is to engage in theoretically informed research that not only crosses linguistic and cultural divisions but also works across media and disciplines. Our PhD program thus supports projects involving creative research methods that engage with critical inquiry and investigation at the doctoral level.

Applicants should signal their interest in this option and indicate the preparation they have for it in the letter of intent accompanying their application to the PhD program. An advisory committee of faculty with expertise in creative research methods will review the application. This committee will be available to discuss the plan with the student before the end of the first year of the PhD, in order to provide support for developing a feasible project. Students who have chosen to pursue this creative research option will produce a dissertation that incorporates a creative process (work of art, performance, film, play, text, etc.) as one of the investigative methods. Their supervisory committee will include at least one member of the university community working in the relevant field of creative practice.

From conception, through qualifying exam and proposal defence, oral defence, and final dissertation, students choosing this option are encouraged to think about ways to dynamically integrate creative processes or projects into their research methodologies. . Much as a conventional dissertation contains research of publishable quality, the thesis project involving research creation methods must meet academic expectations and the standards of disciplinary or artistic rigour in the sphere(s) in which they operate.

Creative research is defined with reference to the “Research Creation” approach to research that combines creative and academic research practices and supports the development of knowledge and innovation through artistic expression, scholarly investigation, and experimentation. The relation between the creation process and the research activity should be put into question and produce critically informed work. Fields of research-creation may include, but are not limited to: architecture, design, creative writing, visual arts, performance, film, video, interdisciplinary arts, media and electronic arts, and new artistic practices (including experiments with the hard and social sciences). 

(This definition of Research Creation is taken from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, accessed 2019)

April 2, 2020