a2ru and XSEAD – Building a Lexicon of Art/Science Terminology

Below is a guest post from a2ru’s Bruce Mackh and Anthony Kolenic describing a new partnership between a2ru and XSEAD to develop a repository of community definitions for shared terms across arts and science.


Conducting successful research most commonly necessitates framing within existing literatures and discourses. For research such as that of a2ru and ArtsEngine’s Mellon grant, however, the discourses and languages employed are more than a little opaque; furthermore, there are dangers to over-defining concepts like “art” or “research” that are so inherently resistant to lingual confinement. Conversely, there is certain value in offering working definitions of art, the Arts, and research—among others—without specifically mandating one over another. We must encourage tentative definitions, which can be modified when needed, in order to engender understanding of such concepts, to demonstrate and disseminate evidence of the value of arts integration to research universities, and to unpack the relationship between research and arts practice.

Taking the above realities into account, a2ru’s Research division has pursued a partnership with XSEAD. This partnership will allow a2ru to collect living definitions of key terms related to our research and to see how colleagues nationwide modify and comment on these definitions and concepts.

interdisciplinaryXSEAD provides a2ru with the ability to track the ways different scholars negotiate similar notions—where clear overlaps and chasms of meaning exist in the discourses of disciplines. This wiki-like collection of definitions will build in response to digitally distributed prompts. It will provide the capacity to track changing definitions entry-by-entry, to organize and query their iterations by a number of variables (e.g., region, kind of university, entry-writers’ disciplines, etc.). The platform can also track relationships between key terms we’ve identified, and will uncover correlations, commonalities, and how colleagues from various disciplines use phrases and terms. Further, it allows the community and managers to “like” particular responses, keying us into which definitions hold the most sway.

Respondents will be limited to a select population for the first months: the several hundred faculty, administrators, and graduate students already conversing through XSEAD and a2ru partners. Respondents can address any and all terms that pertain to their interests. Before long, this database of definitional exchange will strengthen a2ru’s capacity to serve as a repository of research and information and as a powerful ally to those aiming to integrate arts practice into curricula and research.

- Bruce Mackh & Anthony Kolenic, a2ru


For more information about the ASU/XSEAD partnership or view or participate with our terms and definitions project follow: http://xsead.ame.asu.edu/syntaxes

For more information about a2ru, please visit http://a2ru.org or contact their team via http://a2ru.org/contact-us/