Lightning Talks, Week 4

Week four marked the halfway point in this year’s BLUE program. During this week’s lightning talks, scholars spoke about some of the more substantial developments taking place in their projects. People noted how the possible implications of their projects were becoming increasingly tangible, as ideas were now being united with action. The intermediate positioning of the talks within the broader context of the program also came to serve as an opportunity for scholars to reflect on the trajectory their work so far, and to consider what it might be possible to do with the time remaining to them. More basically, this realization seemed to condense as a question, as people asked themselves: what do I want to take away from this experience, and how can this be made possible?

With several weeks of work already behind them, several scholars decided to present excerpts of their project material in lieu of a usual improvised oral recap. To this end, one scholar read a piece of her own fictional writing, while another shared the contents of a journal entry. The choice of these mediums stood out to me as a practical means for distilling the more obtuse initial questions that people had raised. Both seemed to afford space for the use of idiosyncratic language which allowed people to emplace their interests within the context of an immanent, lived reality. As one scholar iterated, “I chose to work with my journal as a way of reaffirming other non-academic things that are important to me.”

These methodological considerations were echoed more generally, as people grappled with the task of ‘giving flesh’ to the ideas that they had been thinking about throughout the previous month. One challenge which emerged in this regard pertained to the matter of thinking beyond academic standards as the framework for producing something of creative and intellectual value. Ollivier pointed out that, if anything, the Building 21 context presents a unique opportunity to explore modes of thought which contribute to a holistic body of knowledge in ways that are decidedly ‘non-academic’. This observation seems to suggest that the ultimate value of these projects may not necessarily lie in their immediate results, but instead in the new avenues of thought that they will open.

Post by Ty Cary

Ty Cary