Research Accountability and an Aesthetic of Relationality: Considerations from a Performance Research Project about Dementia

Elderly actor on stage

Part of the Department of Health and Society Research Seminar Series

There is increased engagement with performance (such as drama and theatre) in health research, which holds potential to explore experiences and meaning, share stories, build community, and advance change. However , these approaches can also pose unique onto epistemological challenges, including the ways ethical tensions are often framed as a dichotomy, such as “artistic license” vs “responsibilities to research.” Through this seminar, Dr. Julia Gray will discuss a theoretical frame she developed called an aesthetic of relationality that responds to calls for the critical theorization of arts based health research, including complicating these assumptions. To frame her discussion, Dr. Gray draw on an example from a performance research project called Cracked: new light on dementia to consider relational and aesthetic accountability in practice, and to bring attention to the centrality of embodiment, imagination, and the willingness to be vulnerable and wrong as part of this approach.

Join us on Zoom at:

For questions: dhs associate chair


Date and Time: -
Location: Online

Julia Gray is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream in health humanities in the Department of Health and Society at the University of Toronto Scarborough.  She is an interdisciplinary cultural and performance studies scholar, artist-practitioner (playwright/theatre director) and critical social scientist.  Her program of research incorporates methodologies and theoretical bearings from the arts, humanities and social and health sciences to interrogate notions of inclusion related to aging and disability; she aims to bolster senses of belonging by engaging different ways of becoming and knowing through performance and the arts.   

Dr. Gray was originally trained as a playwright and theatre director, with a background in dance, and she is the playwright/director of several research-informed theatre projects.  She is a co-investigator and collaborator on several research projects in disability, aging, arts and social justice.   She was a 2020-21 Visiting Scholar at Sensorium, a creative research centre embedded in The School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design at York University, and was a SSHRC-funded post-doctoral fellow at Bloorview Research Institute, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, working with Dr. Barbara Gibson.