Wednesday, 4 March 2020


Children & Childhood Seminar - Wellbeing

Brooks Building, Room G.16

Walking in rhythm with Deleuze and a dog inside the classroom: being and becoming well and happy together.

Dr Donna Carlyle (Northumbria University)

This paper-plateau describes children’s interspecies relation with a classroom canine, utilizing post-humanism, post-structuralism, and new materialism as its research paradigm and methodology. Once feelings are cognitised or articulated, their true essence can be lost. Therefore, elucidating moment-to-moment child-dog interactions through the lens of affect theory attempts to materialise the invisible, embodied, ‘unthought’ and non-conscious experience. Through consideration of Deleuzian concepts such as the ‘rhizome’ and ‘Body-without-Organs’ being enacted it illuminates new, ‘situated knowledge’. This is explicated and revealed using visual methods with ‘data’ produced by both, the children and their classroom dog such as photographs and video footage mounted on the dogs harness, from a GoPro micro camera. In addition, individual drawings, artefacts and paintings completed by the children are profound points in the research process, which are referred to as ‘plateaus’. These then become emergent as a children’s comic book where their relationship with “Dave’, their classroom dog is materialised. Through their interspecies relationship both child and dog exercise agency, co-constitute and transform one another and occupy a space of shared relations and multiple subjectivities. The affectual capacities of both child and dog also co-create an affective atmosphere and emotional spaces. Through ethnographic, participant observation and the ‘researcher’s body’ as a tool, they visually create illustrations through the sketching of “etudes” (drawing exercises) to draw forth this embodied experience to reveal multiple lines and entanglements, mapping a landscape of inter-connections and relations.

Donna Carlyle is an Academic, Health Visitor and Psychotherapist who teaches on the Childhood & Early Years Studies Programme at Northumbria University. Her interests include infant and children’s mental health and childhood flourishing. Her doctoral study is an ethnographic exploration of school children’s experiences and narratives about their interactions with their classroom canine/school dog. This uses Deleuzo-Guattarian philosophy to consider affect and kinaesthetic empathy in Human-Animal Interactions (HAI). Her interest in Pets as Therapy and HAI integrates her therapeutic training with a public health perspective. In addition to employing the use of visual-material methods in her research, she considers Children’s Literature, picture books and fairy-tales to be key to practice in supporting children’s ‘voices’, and their social and emotional well-being.

Please book you place via Eventbrite

Discussants: Mel Hall & Abi Hackett