Polyptych Construction as Historical Methodology: An Intertextual Approach to the Stories of Central Technical School’s Past

Aug. 01, 2015

Source: International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Volume 28, Issue 8, 2015, Pages 955-969

Adopting the lens of “new histories” as the basis for the author's inquiry into the institutional legacy of the art program at Toronto’s Central Technical School (CTS), the author created a methodological framework informed by the traditional art form of the polyptych, in which many panels are joined together to show and tell multilayered stories connected to a central theme, to demonstrate visually how stories are interrelated, and to present openings to other stories.

In polyptychs, he found a means to express both the form and content of his research in ways that are artful, permeable, and conductive. Through Prezi, a digital presentation and storytelling platform, he discovered how the polyptych can become three-dimensional. The resulting series of intertextual expressions create a portrait of the complex, expansive, and multigenerational stories that make up the history of CTS.

This article describes how the author came to see the polyptych as a methodological frame by unpacking its historic roots; by exploring how it operates in contemporary historical research; and by reflecting on how his identity as an artist, teacher, and researcher influences the way he organizes stories within this framework.

Updated: Feb. 26, 2017