Dr. Brandon McFarlane

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Creative humanities; institutional culture; higher-level thinking; university disciplines; performance; storytelling; social and cultural life; order and disruption; metonymy; Royal Military College


Reacting to the symbolic features and historical artefacts that invite institutional self-reflection at the Royal Military College (RMC), I created a performance project leading to two storytelling events. Everyday campus life at RMC already offers opportunities for cultivating a meta-perspective—a higher-order awareness—of the institution, and the storytelling events called attention to such opportunities. I argue that, likewise, art-based projects in the humanities call attention to the creativity—the making—involved in the humanities more broadly. The first storytelling event, Tailor Made (2017), comprised stories focused on the uniform as a model and the body wearing it as an actual bearing out that model. Social and cultural life is made of the difference between models and actuals, and each story engaged the ways that rules, systems, and practices meet with individuals in hurtful, inconvenient, funny or messy ways. The second event, Skylarking (2018), included stories of the institutionally condoned pranks called “skylarks” and coincidentally occurred against the backdrop of a campus-wide punishment that elicited a skylark response. This event and its context showed that marking disruption with more disruption (marking failure with punishment and marking punishment with prank) is a recursion that invites higher-order thinking about existing orders.


Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences (FHASS)


University of Toronto Quarterly


Special Issue on The Creative Humanities



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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.