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Online-Workshop: Umgang mit Scheitern und Improvisation im Doktoratsprozess, Teil 1

Lecturer(s)Dr. Daniela Landert
Contact personPhilipp Dankel
DateFriday, 13th November 2020, 09:00 - 13:30
LocationDepartement Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften Basel Switzerland
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Dealing with set-backs and failure in the research process:

Insights and practical applications from improvisation studies

Daniela Landert

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Samuel Beckett)There is always a risk of failure when we leave the safety of what we know well in order to discover something new. It is obvious that research is impossible without taking such risks. Nevertheless, failure is often feared and rarely discussed in the academic context. Fear of failure can have negative consequences, though. For instance, the fear that ideas may later turn out to be flawed can keep researchers from putting their ideas into writing in the first place, thus causing writer’s block. Overcoming – or at least managing – the fear of failure is therefore important for being able to engage in and enjoy innovative research projects. This workshop presents a practical and constructive approach to dealing with (the fear of) momentary set-backs and experiences of failure during the research process. It is based on concepts and practical exercises from applied improvisation, a field that has its origins in theatrical improvisation. In improvised theatre, actors develop scenes spontaneously in front of live audiences, which involves a high amount of risk-taking. Not all scenes turn out well, but scenes can only be brilliant if actors embrace their ideas without doubting themselves. In this context, a number of exercises have been developed that can be applied fruitfully to the research context. They include, for instance, exercises that aim at managing one’s internalised ‘censor’ in order to facilitate creativity and innovation.

The workshop combines theoretical input, practical exercises and personal reflection of the participants’ research biography with respect to their experiences with (fear of) failure. It aims to provide participants with strategies to confront fears in the research process, to increase their awareness of the resources that they have already applied successfully in overcoming difficult phases in research projects, and to let them rediscover the joy and creativity of producing new ideas.

Learning objectives:

• Participants understand the connection between fear of failure and mental barriers that block creative thinking

• Participants know strategies to manage their fear of failure

• Participants are able to apply techniques to silence their internalised ‘censor’ temporarily

• Participants know exercises that foster creativity



Day 1 (4 hours)

• Introduction

• Theoretical background

• Experiencing failure: practical exercises and reflection

• Guided individual reflection: Research biography and personal resources/strategies

• Formulating realistic goals: Input

• Introducing task in preparation of day 2: Defining a goal


Day 2 (4 hours)

• Evaluating personal task

• Adopting a positive attitude towards new ideas: practical exercises and reflection

• Managing one’s internalised ‘censor’: Input and practical exercises

• Uncensored production: Practical exercises

• Conclusion, outlook and evaluation


About the instructor:

Dr. Daniela Landert is a researcher in English Linguistics at the University of Basel. She is the Principal Investigator of an SNF PRIMA project, in which she and her team study improvised fictional dialogues in comparison to scripted dialogues and spontaneous conversation. In addition to her academic qualifications, she also has a background in improvisation theatre.



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