Dr Claire Pajaczkowska


  • Claire Pajaczkowska
  • Area

    School of Design


    Senior Research Tutor Fashion and Textiles

  • As an independent filmmaker, Dr Claire Pajaczkowska’s research into contemporary cultural studies led to an inclusive range of cultural practices from art to industry. Researching the interface between subjectivity and social structure demands new methods of enquiry. Creative practice as knowledge production is especially interesting and little understood. Her research into fashion thinking explores the subjectivities of neophilia, community, hyper-social attachments, parody, play and insubordination. Her research into textiles thinking explores the relationship between techniques of making and types of tacit knowledge. A research project, Empathy By Design (AHRC, 2014), tested the use of the workshop method of creative practice within institutional care.
  • Biography

  • Born to a Polish and French family, Claire Pajaczkowska was educated in the UK and France. She studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London (1972) and Contemporary Cultural Studies at Middlesex Polytechnic (1980), before completed her PhD on theories of materialism in the School of Humanities, Middlesex University. Postdoctoral training at the NHS Trust Tavistock Centre, London, developed psychoanalytic experience and theory.

    As a filmmaker in New York, Claire co-directed a short film Sigmund Freud’s Dora, which, with the Arts Council of England and the British Film Institute, explored new techniques of distribution and dissemination for independent film. In London, Claire initiated a new course in the theory and practice of creative work. A postgraduate tutor in filmmaking at Central Saint Martins School of Art & Design, Claire also tutored Foundation and doctoral students in the history and theory of art and design.

    As Senior Lecturer in the School of Art and Design Middlesex University, Claire lectured in Film Theory, Art and Design History and Gender Studies, before being appointed Reader in Psychoanalysis and Visual Culture in 2000.

    She is on the editorial and advisory boards of scholarly journals Heresies: a journal of art and politics (NYC); BLOCK; Free Associations: Psychoanalysis, Politics, Culture; Textiles: the journal of cloth and culture (Berg); and Fashion, Film and Consumption (Intellect). Claire also actively contributes to an interdisciplinary range of research.

    An active member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College, Claire works to develop a coherent policy and practice for the state support of practice-led research in art and design.
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  • Practice

  • Claire Pajaczkowska’s doctoral research ‘Before Language’ explored the different concepts of materialism that can be deployed to understand the relationship between subjectivity and social structure. Supported by the British Academy, the research included studies in the origins of language and writing, and concluded by offering new paradigm for integrating psychoanalysis and cultural theory: the idea that ‘homo-infantilis’ has evolved a new structure of mind in which the paedomorphic is central to social learning and cultural transmission of knowledge.

    This theory was further developed in a two year Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2002–4), which explored the classical and neo-classical concepts of the sublime, in order to further understand the boundaries of language and the inexpressible. Published in 2010 as The Sublime Now, co-edited with Dr Luke White, the book initiated a series of discussion and conference events in the UK and overseas.

    Working with the Freud Museum, Claire has lectured on the sculpture of Louise Bourgeois and materials as transitional space, and has published, with Ivan Ward (Education Director at the Freud Museum), Shame and Sexuality: Psychoanalysis and Visual Culture, a collection of papers that research the origins of shame and guilt as unconscious structures.

    Claire Pajaczkowska’s recent publications include ‘Making Known: Nine types of Textile Thinking’, in the Handbook of Textiles forthcoming in 2015 from Bloomsbury, and new writing on Fashion Thinking.

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  • External collaborations

  • External Examiner on Art and Design courses at BA and MA (Hons), MPhil and PhD at universities in the UK, France, Germany and USA.

    Currently LUAL Central St Martins’ BA Fashion, Textiles and Jewellery.

    Middlesex University BA Hons Fashion,BA Hons Textiles and BA Hons Jewellerty.

    External Examiner MA Psychoanalytic Studies, Tavistock Centre, NHS Primary Care Trust

    Professorial Committee Board, University of the Arts London

    AHRC Peer Review College

    Advisor to curatorial and educational projects at Tate Britain, Tate Modern and the Victoria and Albert Museum

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  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Pajaczkowska,C. (2015) ‘Making Known : Nine Types of Textile Thinking’, in: J. Jefferies and H. Clark (eds), The Handbook of Textiles, London: Bloomsbury [forthcoming]

    Pajaczkowska,C. et al (eds) (2015) The New Klein-Lacan Dialogues, London: Karnac [forthcoming]

    Pajaczkowska, C. (2014), ‘It is Still Snowing’, in: M. Nash and I. Chambers (eds), Naples: MeLa, Istituto Orientale Napoli

    Pajaczkowska, C. (2011) ‘Tension, Time and Tenderness: Traces of the Hand in Textiles’, in: G. Pollock (ed.), Digital and Other Virtualities, London: I.B. Tauris

    Pajaczkowska, C. (2011) ‘1851, 1951, 2011’, in: The Lion and the Unicorn, catalogue, London: RCA

    Pajaczkowska, C. (2010) ‘Looking Sharp :Masculinity and Menswear’, in M. Uhlirova (ed.), If Looks Could Kill, London: Skira

    Pajaczkowska, C. and White, L. (2010) The Sublime Now, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press

    Pajaczkowska, C. and Ward, I. (eds) (2008) Shame and Sexuality? Psychoanalysis and Visual Culture, London and New York: Routledge

    Pajaczkowska, C. (2008) ‘On Humming: Marion Milner’s Contribuition to Psychoanalysis’, in: L. Caldwell (ed.), Winnicott and the Psychoanalytic Tradition, London: Karnac
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  • Awards and Grants

  • 2013–14, Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Development Grant. Empathy By Design, with Dr Julie Behseta as postdoctoral researcher.

    2011, Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition. Funds for The Lion and the Unicorn exhibition at the RCA, commemorating 60th anniversary of RCA pavilion in the Festival of Britain 1951.

    2010, HECE Grant for Learning and Teaching in Design, Halcyon Daze, film by Ike Rust RCA Menswear.

Selected work


Current and recent research

AHRC Research Development Grant, 2014
Cultural Value Project: Empathy By Design

Led by Geoffrey Crossick, Director of the Crafts Council, the Cultural Value Project is a multi-disciplinary research initiative that aims to develop methods for demonstrating the intrinsic value of culture. The Empathy By Design project was a yearlong study of the effects of material practice workshops in a residential care home facility for people living with dementia. Designed in response to the 2013 Francis Report which identified a ‘compassion deficit’ in institutions with care responsibilities of nursing, the project recorded the effects of weekly textiles workshops run with care home staff, residents and families. The result is a method for intuiting emotional qualities of relations within work settings which will be further tested in other settings with the aim of informing government policy with qualitative research data.

Additional research projects on Fashion Thinking as a culture of modernity, community, reciprocity and social learning are also underway in collaboration with the London College of Fashion.

Research students