When Art Meets Research: A Review of John Williamson’s The Case of the Disappearing/Appearing Slow Learner: An Interpretive Mystery

Keywords: Interpretive Work, Hermeneutics, Understanding


In this article I straddle the conventions of literary analysis and educational book reviews to evaluate “The case of the disappearing/appearing slow learner: An interpretive mystery,” a doctoral dissertation by John Williamson (2015). I examine the artistic and educational research components of the dissertation. I break convention with the traditional journal article, by applying a literary analytical lens to the dissertation written as a novel. I also apply the lens of an initiate to educational research. I present an overview of the study, followed by an analysis of the study’s epistemological and methodological commitments. I conclude that the dissertation is epistemologically and methodologically coherent, notwithstanding the shortcomings. Therefore, I frame my critique as what is missing in the dissertation.. Finally, I consider the learning I intend to take forward with me as a graduate student, and I offer brief recommendations regarding the value of reading dissertations, especially those that successfully break with traditional reporting.

Author Biography

Galicia Solon Blackman, University of Calgary
Galicia has spent her teaching career committed to being the classroom even while she has spent time behind the scenes in various administrative roles. She has taught in the areas of Literature, English, and Communications Studies at secondary and post-secondary levels. She has a profound interest in how classroom experiences can incorporate alternative pedagogies, especially popular culture, in more meaningful ways. Her current research interests include ways that traditional pedagogical tools can be re-oriented to foster vitality in the classroom experience and understanding learners’ experiences. She articulates her personal goal as: a will to facilitate peaceful co-existences, promote tolerance, eliminate discrimination and prejudice through the healthy balance of diversity and individuality. She finds her career and personal goals inseparable as she is driven by to an imperative to promote literacy and the appreciation for the humanities.
Position Paper/Essai