Dissertation Proposal: 2023 Litwin Books Award

Screenshot of Litwin Books Press Release article from website. Black and orange text on white background.
(Screenshot of Litwin Books online Press Release.)

Happy to announce that I won an award for my proposal this summer! 😀

Check out Litwin Books press release: https://litwinbooks.com/2023-doctoral-dissertation-winner-courtney-richardson/.

Litwin Books is an independent academic publisher of books about media, communication, and the cultural record—-publishing books that examine theoretical and practical issues in librarianship from a critical perspective. The award consists of $1,000, given annually to a graduate student who is working on a dissertation on the philosophy of information.

Below is a description of my work on for my dissertation using (hopefully) less academic jargon than my proposal’s abstract:

“Art as Information: Re-reading Quicksand” is a reexamination of personal reading and archival practices within Library and Information Sciences from an artist’s perspective. Specifically, Courtney demonstrates how art practices—-within graphic design and fabric-textile arts—-are incorporated into the everyday acts of reading and knowledge production (such as storytelling and personal archiving). This dissertation involves the making of graphical and textual artworks to reinterpret and analyze stories and archives embedded within Quicksand (1928), a fictional and autobiographical novel by Nella Larsen. Larsen’s life and creative storytelling provide paths for how we may study cultural heritage(s) and knowledge(s) concerning African American womanhood and wellness. Courtney also reintroduces the subfield of Art as Information to examine how we may review such stories that have been historically silenced and disfigured by demonstrating the liberatory aspects of artmaking to intercept and dismantle exploitative narratives affixed to marginalized groups.

Along with rereading and extracting Larsen’s personal archive from her fiction, Courtney incorporates artmaking to further explore and analyze Black cultural narratives. She produces graphical iterations or reinterpretations of symbols, passages, and social-historical references expressed in Larsen’s novel using icon-like graphic systems, type and fabric design with zine and art book design. With Quicksand, Courtney develops an “Art as Information” approach supported by Black feminist thought to reread and respond to the novel. This model consists of three familiar and overlapping practices experienced while reading and archiving: re-reading, annotating, and making. By merging these information practices with artmaking, Courtney reintroduces Art as Information (AAI) as a subfield of Information Sciences. AAI examines how we craft, document, process, and circulate information through making art. Approached as an information technology, artmaking provides additional pathways (extending beyond traditional or text-dominant forms) to explore what is informative and how we are informed through our creative processes. Courtney specifically argues how making (art) while reading and in response to reading cultural narratives can help us think more critically (or openly) about various cultural knowledge(s) and their pertinence within a progressive society.