“A Strange-ness in My Mind”

-How was your day at Mellon School?

-It was again so intensive and rich.

-That sounds good. So, tell me about your experience.

-Well, we first began with Martin’s seminar on new media forms, especially on MOOCs. Same as the other days we have a special guest, Jascha Smilack. He is a Manager of Instructional Development at Harvard. With him and through his experience we think and discuss the way how and why they develop the MOOCs and what can be the (dis)advantages of this online courses as an example of public humanities project.

-Do you mean with MOOCs, Massive Open Online Course?

-Yes, sure.

-So, how the things are going with Harvard MOOCs?

-As far as I can see, it is a free, online course depending on the variously topic or subject ranging from science, geography to art, social science.

- Who are the teachers?

- Everybody can be, if s/he really trust her/himself on a subject to present, discuss with the online participants. I mean you don’t have to be a faculty member at Harvard University.  Anyone can do this.

-Is it so easy?

-Actually no, there should be other conditions.

-If you have an opportunity to do, what can you do? Do you have a MOOCs project?

-It’s interesting because you are asking of what we’ve just discussed with each other. Everyone in the group discussed and shared her/his idea (why and to whom we might prepare a MOOCs ) with the other participant sitting beside her. For example, I talked with Ryan. Thanks to his questions, suddenly an idea came to me such as presenting the story of Contemporary Turkish Theatre to the public who would be glad to hear about it. Indeed, in a 5 minutes we made a lesson plan. But let me add, I really found this idea, I mean to talk, share, discuss with a participant sitting beside/ in front of/behind me, very useful and creative. I wish we will have so many moments like that during Mellon School.

-I wish so. Today you have only one guest speaker?

-No, Alexis Soloski also was with us to give a lecture on Contemporary American theatre. She also shared with us her experience as a critic.

- Is she only a critic or a scholar?

-She is both. She is a critic with a Ph.D in Theatre Studies.

-I think this is a good opportunity for a theatre critic.

-She said the same when a similar question asked her. She said it is good for me as a critic to have a Theatre History background in my pocket.

-Is there any interesting thing, experience she has?

-Mostly she talked about American (theatre) context and the function of the critic role in this society, and how she become a critic, what is the typical writing style she has, whether it is possible or not to change the world with(in) the theatre,…

-Really, she thinks that we can change the world through our theatre experience as a critic, an audience, a performer, a playwright,..

-Don’t you think so?

-Actually that reminds me what Erika Fischer-Lichte pointed out? She said that when you expose yourself to all different kind of experiences in performance, then something can happen to you. It comes slowly but it will change you, of course not that change your life, but rather change your feeling. Then it begins to transform you. It can change the ideas, habits of a single but this is an emergent phenomenon which happens to us; it is not something we can plan.

-I remember that, is that from one of her interviews made by my Serbian colleague Tina Peric.

-Exactly, “Understanding versus Experiencing” published on Critical-Stages, and this is also the same as what Alexis Soloski doing as a critic.

-Is there anything that inspiring of you after or during her lecture?

-Yes, there is. An idea of thinking an “İgnorant Critic” to borrow a phrase from Ranciere’s excellent book Ignorant Schoolmaster, who teaches us that he doesn’t know or without knowing it; by this way the students/spectator can construct their own meaning and understanding and experiencing about the concern in a “moment of ıntellectual emancipation”. But don’t want me to tell about it more, now. I feel “ignorant” about it since there is “a strange-ness in my mind”.

Post by Eylem Ejder

 

 

See also: Eylem Ejder