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“Take what I have to offer and do with it what I could never imagine….”

2009 April 27
by Anne Dalke

I really enjoyed the conversation today, and was sad only that everyone won’t get a chance to be “up front” w/ their projects…
The FIVE main ideas I came away with were these:

  • Rebecca’s saying that the “open-questioning” quality of your multi-media projects were like a “get home free card”: asking questions–only asking questions–frees you from having to construct an argument, with evidence to back it up. As someone who has always valued questions more than answers–who judges a student’s evolution in a course (for instance) by changes in the quality of her questions, from beginning to end of the semester, I need to think about this a lot more.
  • The realization that we are making our own decisive contributions to “ending the university as we know it.” Mark C. Taylor’s six-stage proposal to make higher learning “more agile, adaptive and imaginative” begins with restructuring the curriculum (“the division-of-labor model of separate departments is obsolete and must be replaced with a curriculum structured like a web or complex adaptive network”) and ends with these instructions from professors to students: “Do not do what I do; rather, take whatever I have to offer and do with it what I could never imagine doing and then come back and tell me about it.”
    Thanks to you all for doing this!
  • I was particularly struck, in our first conversation about “the self mediated by technology,” by the very different ways in which Natasha, Melinda and Guinevere constructed their projects: starting w/ words, then looking for images; or vice versa; or some combination of the two….it occurs to me that all your projects were so phenomenal precisely because you all were willing (or–because the technology was new, the possibilities endless–were forced) to play, and so activated all sorts of unpredictable and unconscious processes that don’t come as much into action in a conventional paper where you are trying to assemble evidence to support an argument.
  • I was also struck by a double thing that aaclh said: first that she drew her project because she wanted to control what it looked like, then her adding that she didn’t know how to/hadn’t had experience drawing….so she couldn’t actually control the outcome after all. This caught my attention–because it suggests that we need tools, need technology, need training, need socialization in certain practices, in order to use them creatively, to new ends.
  • I was also very struck, in our second conversation about the “unfinishedness” of the “mortal” self, by the strong quality of parody in many of your projects (Maddie and Alexandra weren’t the only ones who admitted to having an “ironic” relationship with what they had made). It also occurs to me that–given the multiple dimensions that were in play here–sound, images, words; and the multiple ways in which they might be constructed–static, dynamic–you were also able to put yourselves in a series of complex relationships to your work, again more than you might in a conventional paper, where you don’t have as many possible directions in which to move….

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