The purpose of reading the literatures is to ascertain what is known about a particular topic. We read to see the categories that are used by others to sort, sift, foreground and background the field. We look to see what previous work has been mobilized and what has been ignored. We evaluate the methods used to generate the data and the argument; we might ask, for example, who are the research participants – how many, when, where and how were they involved? We also look to see what view of knowledge underpins each text. Taken together, these and similar questions allow us to compare and contrast, and to develop a view of the ‘clumps’ of literatures which share common characteristics or approaches.
In practice-as-research the same goes for placing one’s creative work within an appropriate field (or fields) of practice. The literature review is instead a field review which in itself might include various forms of practice: writing, text, installation, film, performance, etc.