Document Type

Master's Thesis

Graduation Year




Degree Name

Master of Arts

Program Name


Program Director

Joan Baranow, PhD

First Reader

Chase Clow, PhD

Second Reader

Christian Dean, PhD


Examining the ways that humans derive, cultivate, and encode a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives has always been a concern at the heart of humanities scholarship. In my own journey as an undergraduate and graduate humanities student, this sentiment held true. Through the cross-pollination of my humanities scholarship and my passion for dance led me to the question that guides and structures the project at hand. Specifically I ask: Where is meaning located in the art-making process? To explore this question, I hone in on the processes that guided my own dance-based practice, which exists within the methodological framework of arts-based research. In this essay, I will first give a definition of my craft and of arts-based research, briefly situating the methodology historically and in reference to existing research paradigms. Then I discuss the problem that this project seeks to address, which is namely a lack of focus on public scholarship in the academy. The section to follow delineates my research procedures. In the conclusion I offer my reflections, ultimately averring that meaning in the art-making process is located in acts of spontaneity and deliberation.