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Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

On-line version ISSN 1445-7377
Print version ISSN 2079-7222

Indo-Pac. j. phenomenol. (Online) vol.12 n.2 Grahamstown Jul. 2012 

Phenomenology as embodied knowing and sharing: Kindling audience participation



Kathleen Galvin; Les Todres




We are particularly interested in how poetry and phenomenological research come together to increase understanding of human phenomena. We are further interested in how these more aesthetic possibilities of understanding can occur within a community context, that is the possibility of a process in which understanding is shared through an ongoing process of participation. In this way phenomenologically-oriented understandings may meaningfully speak of that which is common between us as well as that which may be uniquely lived for each of us in terms of its individual context and nuance. In this paper we reflect on a process by which we engaged with participants to poetically re-present a description of an experiential phenomenon. As part of this process we offered an evocative description of a health care scenario, and facilitated collectively created 'embodied responses' inspired by the interactive form of Japanese Renga. We ask the question: "What kind of phenomenology is this?" Through so doing we attempt to address the theme of this special issue, namely, a focus on a wide embrace of the notion of evidence. We do this by drawing out the epistemological implications of a phenomenological approach that attends to the 'awakening of presences' in embodied and linguistic ways. In this pursuit we are assisted by the writings of Gendlin, Gadamer, Levinas and Shotter.



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About the Authors



While nursing, Kate undertook a doctoral study concerning the evaluation of nurse-led practice using conventional research methods. Ironically, this drew her towards qualitative approaches and reminded her of her formative literary-rich education in Ireland and what had been lost in her specialized nurse education: a 'nourished' scholarship that incorporated the literary traditions, story, poetry and reflections on experiential meaning.

Observations in clinical practice at that time sensitised her to the reductionist nature of practice in contrast to the depth and detail of what people go through in suffering and in illness. Kate came to realise that knowing what to do in practice as a nurse didn't always come directly from a technical perspective; rather it came from somewhere deeper and she became fascinated with this 'deeper' could mean. This led to conversations with colleagues about existential issues and phenomenology, and to the work of the human science community.

The world of phenomenology opened a path to the fullness of her earlier experiences, and how poetry and written language are able to convey something richer than science and which is palpably present. This journey culminated in the development, with Swedish colleagues, of a lifeworld led approach to education which, later, was used by Kate when leading two innovative curricula developments at Bournemouth University: a professional doctorate and a set of lifeworld-led undergraduate education materials.

Kate has been pursuing interests in phenomenological research, existential philosophy, and poetry in a number of concerns in Health and Social Care, particularly regarding the meaning of 'what it means to care'. With Les Todres, she has written papers on the humanisation of care, a more contemplative approach to education for caring practices, and a developing theory of well-being. This work is to be published (2012) in a book called 'Caring and Well-being: A Lifeworld-led Approach'.

Kate is currently Professor of Nursing Practice at Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of Hull, UK. E-mail address:



Dr Les Todres is a clinical psychologist and Professor of Qualitative Research and Psychotherapy at Bournemouth University, UK. His previous occupational roles have included being head of a student counselling service and director of a clinical psychology training programme. His career spans both academic and clinical contexts. Les is author of the book Embodied Enquiry: Phenomenological Touchstones for Research, Psychotherapy and Spirituality (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and numerous journal articles and book chapters.

His current research interests include older person care, mental health and quality of life. Professor Todres was responsible for co-ordinating the submission of articles dealing with the one of the IPJP's specialist themes, Method in Phenomenology (see the 'Scheduled Themes' section). E-mail address:

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