Speaker: Christine A. Knoop @Christine
Affiliation: Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics
Title: Performing Systematic Empirical Research in the Arts. A Handbook
Abstract (long version below): This poster introduces a work-in-progress handbook for researchers conducting systematic empirical work in the arts. Our handbook—which will comprise contributions from international experts central to the field—is meant to meet three main objectives: (a) to provide a how-to guide for preparing and conducting empirical studies; (b) to help manage expectations regarding what empirical research in the arts can and cannot accomplish; and (c) to provide humanities scholars with a basic reading competence for empirical data they will likely not be able to collect or analyze on their own.
Poster_Knoop.pdf (564.1 KB)
Empirical approaches in the arts have become more and more popular in recent decades, which is reflected mostly in the success of the Digital Humanities, but also in the frequency and depth with which empirical work on art reception is acknowledged in more traditional humanities departments. Another notable example of this trend is, of course, our own, fast-developing field, the Empirical Aesthetics. Nevertheless, actual empirical work remains scarce in most humanities departments, and knowledge on how to conduct such research is rarely part of the curriculum. In particular, there is very little practical statistical and analytical guidance for humanities scholars. However, only few in the field would contest that empirical research in the arts greatly benefits from an active role of the humanities, especially regarding the more general epistemological question of measuring art reception (what can be ‘known’ about the workings of art? (How) can art experiences be generalized and compared?), as well as knowledge of the history, the features, and the reception of the individual arts.
To address this problem, we are preparing a methods handbook for colleagues from the humanities wishing to perform systematic empirical research in the arts.
Our handbook is meant to meet three main objectives: a) to provide a hands-on, how-to guide for preparing and conducting empirical studies and analyzing the data; b) to help manage expectations regarding what empirical research in the arts can and cannot accomplish; and c) to provide humanities scholars with a basic reading competence for empirical data they will likely not be able to collect or analyze on their own.
The handbook, which is to be published in the Oxford Handbooks series at Oxford University Press, will introduce extant empirical branches in the arts, pertinent efforts from other disciplines, an overview of relevant quantitative and qualitative empirical methods and what type of research questions they are best suited to answer, as well as a step-by-step guide to conducting empirical studies of one’s own. Since no one publication can cover every detail, the handbook will also provide ample bibliographies with resources for those who wish to go further.
Since the field of empirical research in the arts is rapidly evolving, we are additionally preparing an extensive resource Wiki, in which bibliographies and information about methods, software, extant programming code, available digital corpora, international funding opportunities, relevant institutions, etc., will be continually updated.