How Far will it go?

One person (thanks Nadine!) approached me after the panel on Saturday saying she’d like to know how things turn out. I don’t know, yet, but I’m mapping a possible path….
The overall audience response was … remarkable, now that I stop to think about it.

There were definitely some contemplative (?) moments, but we spent most of the time laughing. At what?
I know that I presented the information in a humorous way, and even as humor. “This is the funniest part but we can’t spend too much time on it…” or something to that effect. Tina emphasized the risktaking – of all of us – repeatedly in her response….Bonnie was the only panelist I really spoke with….Katie and I smiled at each other before we started and when the panel ended we were off on our separate orbits. Leda was probably off to her third appearance of the day…Tina did come over to suggest that I consider the angle of power in the study. Yep, I’ve been noting some of these junctures (like this one!) all along.
Coming back to the laughter, I’d already told some individuals about some of the things my students had said. About me being capable of podiatry, but not brain surgery or law. About the visceral impact of the haircut. I’ve consistently presented this as humor, being amused and pleased that the students/co-researchers felt comfortable to tease me so much. I also want to honor and recognize their honesty and willingness to make themselves vulnerable to me and each other.
It probably doesn’t matter, except for vanity’s sake, that I never knew about mullets until 3-4 years ago, when my FP talked about her students’ reactions. Some teenybopper mag she gets had a spread on them. I thought I’d come up with it practically on my own! I saw a woman with a somewhat similar haircut at a women’s music festival (down south, years ago, near Atlanta?), and then there was the impetus of the mohawk at the ’96 Olympics…anyway, my pop cultural knowledge is widely known to be practically non-existent.
If the sharing of strongly negative feelings is framed and embraced as humor – what does that laughter point toward? Vernon is right, I think, when he says not enough emphasis is placed on the forward-in-time aspects of communication. Am I inviting you to laugh at me, or at some widely shared recognition of…something, or at…..what?
Sharing the limelight (!) was interesting. Most of the comments were directed toward Bonnie, if my memory serves. Pregnancy anecdotes, suggestions for further research….just discussing pregnancy in a group of (by visibility, anyway) non-pregnant women (24) and four men (and one person whose gender was indeterminate to me) over a period of 12 minutes as part of a larger conversation seemed to invite some of the same kinds of messages as those Bonnie was reporting from her semester-long classes.
I hope Leda actually felt teased (as she should have!) by my comment about her acting on an intuition about my horizon and inviting me to do this panel probably before I would have sought out such an opportunity on my own. While my “experiment in progress” currently runs on unarticulated theory, after listening to her talk about her paper I wanted to just say, ‘ditto on that’. 🙂

One thought on “How Far will it go?”

  1. Forgot to respond to this post, Steph, but i truly appreciated your courage in doing the project and then “doing it” again at the conference. I love the layers you add to the work you do on interaction–getting at the complexities that are so often overlooked and asking for reflexivity (gasp) from your students as well as the rest of us.
    Rock on!

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