On the figuration

On the figuration

The last week has been spent still deeply immersed in producing the different entries for the ‘editorial apparatus’ pages that will appear on the published WWW website at HRI Online at the University of Sheffield. However, a new development here is that probably a book will be produced from this. The intention is not to go for a posh mainstream publisher, but for it to be produced in a Kindle format and made available both quickly and if possible for free. If this comes off, it will provide an overview and bring together much theoretical and methodological data in an easy to read and easy to use form, and hopefully it will be helpful for readers and users of Whites Writing Whiteness research. But some way to go on this yet, so watch this space as things firm up or not.

Because of writing the editorial pages, much time has been spent in thinking about the idea of the figuration, a core concept in the framework of conceptual tools developed by Elias. One of the aspects of WWW research is that it has put some more flesh to the bones here, in showing that figuration is involved in its work in (at least) three ways.

There are the figurations that are represented in the written content of the letters constituting the WWW research base. There are the figurations formed by the different letter-writers and the many connections existing between them. There are also the figurations formed by each of the collections, in being assembled and collected by one set of people, and then conserved, overviewed and made available by another. Most of these figurational entities give rise to the usual issues with this approach, concerning where a figuration begins and ends, what the point of connection is and what makes it hang together.

Interestingly, ‘the collection’ has most clarity in these respects, for it is very clear who the letter-writers and their addressees are that have been collected together in this way. So the task becomes two-fold, exploring how the collection came into existence, and investigating how the figuration is shaped in its flows and ebbs of letters and other documents. These matters have been discussed in quite a lot of detail in the editorial pages being produced, with the result that the idea of ‘the collection’ seems more and more important analytically.


Last updated: 21 April 2017


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