• Neil MulhollandEmail author
Part of the Creativity, Education and the Arts book series (CEA)


It is increasingly difficult to ascertain what lies outside the boundaries of contemporary art. In response to the constant redrawing of boundaries that is characteristic of the field, art academies are forever rearranging their own disciplinary parameters. The professional environment in which the art academy exists is not the academy’s ‘outside’; art academies lie firmly within the boundary formation of higher education while straddling the institutional formations of the artworld. Art education is more amorphous still: learning activities are hosted by all facets of the artworld. Since it forms common ground for the artworld’s variety of social groups, art education is ‘para’; it creates the possibility of dialogue and cooperation. What convergences and differences of perspective emerge when artists, artworkers and scholars self-consciously develop a suture, working to open access to the continuum of education-as-art-as-education-as-art? Para-academic prosumerism assembles the roles of producer–consumer as a form of disintermediation, narrowing the gap between learners and educators. This chapter outlines the genesis of the term ‘para-academic’, which is a symptom of, and a creative response to, the impact of the access economy on higher education. In the later sense, para-academia maps onto the D-I-T (do-it-together) sector of the artworld. Para-academia is parasitical upon, and convergent with, the academy, forming an addendum or paragon constitutive of academic practices. Para-academia, thus conceived, is a commoning counter-strategy to the enclosure of knowledge. It takes advantage of the exploitative access economy to arrive at its other: the sharing economy.


Para-academia Dialogue Sharing economy 


  1. #Alt-Academy. (2018). #Alt-Academy. Retrieved August 15, 2018, from
  2. Becker, H. S. (1982). Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  3. Rule, A. C. (2006). Editorial: The Components of Authentic Learning. Journal of Authentic Learning, 3(1), 1–10.Google Scholar
  4. Calo, R., & Rosenblat, A. (2017). The Taking Economy: Uber, Information, and Power. Columbia Law Review, 117(6), 1623–1690.Google Scholar
  5. Christensen, C. M. (1997). The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  6. Danto, A. (1964). The Artworld. Journal of Philosophy, 61(19), 571–584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Danto, A. (1981). The Transfiguration of the Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Derrida, J. (1987). The Truth in Painting. London and Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Dickie, G. (1997). The Art Circle: A Theory of Art. Evanston, IL: Chicago Spectrum Press.Google Scholar
  10. Flanders, J. (2011). You Work at Brown: What Do You Teach? #Alt-Academy: 01: Alternative Academic Careers for Humanities Scholars, 1, 20–37.
  11. Geertz, C. (1976). Art as a Cultural System. MLN, 91(6), 1473–1499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Graham, J., Graziano, V., & Kelly, S. (2016). The Educational Turn in Art. Performance Research, 21(6), 29–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hills, M. (2002). Fan Cultures. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Illeris, H., Göthlund, A., & Thrane, K. W. (2015). Introduction. In H. Illeris, A. Göthlund, & K. W. Thrane (Eds.), EDGE: 20 Essays on Contemporary Art Education (pp. 19–25). Copenhagen: Multivers Academic.Google Scholar
  15. Joy, E. (2012). PARTY! Or Is It a Panel Discussion on Para-Academic Publishing, or BOTH? Retrieved from
  16. Joy, E. (2014). Epicurian Rain. In A. W. Wardrop (Ed.), The Para-Academic Handbook: A Toolkit for Making-Learning-Creating-Acting (pp. 291–300). Bristol: HammerOn Press.Google Scholar
  17. Leadbeater, C., & Miller, P. (2004). The Pro-Am Revolution: How Enthusiasts Are Changing Our Economy and Society. London: Demos.Google Scholar
  18. Lessig, L. (2008). Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. London: Bloomsbury Academic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Macfarlane, B. (2011). The Morphing of Academic Practice: Unbundling and the Rise of the Para-Academic. Higher Education Quarterly, 65(1), 59–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mahony, E. (2016). Opening Interstitial Distances in the Neoliberal University and Art School. Performance Research, 21(6), 51–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Malik, S. (2011). Educations Sentimental and Unsentimental: Repositioning the Politics of Art and Education. Redhook: Journal of Curatorial Studies, 1(n/a): n/a.Google Scholar
  22. Mayhew, M. (2014). Marginal Inquiries. In A. Wardrop & D. Withers (Eds.), The Para-Academic Handbook: A Toolkit for Making-Learning-Creating-Acting (pp. 263–290). Bristol: HammerOn Press.Google Scholar
  23. Moten, F., & Harney, S. (2004). The University and the Undercommons: Seven Theses. Social Text, 22(2), 101–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Neill, P., & Wilson, M. (2010). Curating and the Educational Turn. London: Open Editions.Google Scholar
  25. Rifkin, J. (2001). The Age of Access: The New Culture of Hypercapitalism, Where All of Life Is a Paid-for Experience. New York: J. P. Tarcher/Putnam.Google Scholar
  26. Ross, A. (2009). Toward a Global Autonomous University. In Edufactory Collective (Ed.), The Rise of the Global University (pp. 18–31). Brooklyn and New York: Autonomedia.Google Scholar
  27. Rothblatt, S. (1997). The Modern University and Its Discontents: The Fate of Newman’s Legacies in Britain and America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Solomon, D. J., Laakso, M., & Björk, B. C. (2016). Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences. Harvard University. Retrieved from
  29. Toffler, A. (1980). The Third Wave. London: Collins.Google Scholar
  30. Wardrop, A., & Withers, D. M. (Eds.). (2014). The Para-Academic Handbook: A Toolkit for Making-Learning-Creating-Acting. Bristol: HammerOn Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Edinburgh College of ArtThe University of EdinburghEdinburghScotland

Personalised recommendations