• Aubrey Streit Krug

Spring 2016 Semester Review: Or, How to Write a Watershed

While the Watershed collective takes a summer hiatus from writing new blog posts, we hope you’ll enjoy browsing through the sometimes flowing, sometimes halting lines of thought we spun out this spring semester.

You can page backward through the archive chronologically. You can search by topical tags in the column at the right. Or you can keep scrolling for a slightly self-reflexive guide to reading—and writing—Watershed posts.

Look around you. (Say it to yourself like this.)

Maybe you see unread books. A steeple. Blood. A meal. Clouds in the sky. A screen. Chimeric beings. Perhaps including your cat looking back at you.

Pose necessary questions. (If possible, in a series.)

“So what does it mean, I asked myself, to be oriented to a job? To a profession? To a school?” -Katie McWain

“That is, the story’s frisson lies in the implicit question it poses: What would you do? Could you bear to eat your own to survive? More significantly: Will we reach a point where we cannot produce—where we can only consume? Is there such a point? What will we do?” -Dan Froid

“How have these institutions determined our lives? What role have these communities performed in the structuring of social activity, our private and public manners of becoming? Why the continued impulse for some to seek out these communities long after Modern Man, with such bravado, has declared their irrelevance?” -Dillon Rockrohr

"Through play, children explore their potential futures, often imagining situations and roles for themselves that are not 'possible' according to the rules and logic of the world as it exists. Woolfalk takes this idea as a jumping-off point, using play and imagination to create a better world—to courageously ask, Why not?" -Amanda Breitbach

“What, then, is the benefit of gameplay? What are players getting out of the aesthetic experience and mechanics of playing this type of game?” -Gabi Kirillof

“With universities relying more and more on adjunct faculty, how do these neoliberal labor policies conflict with a university's fundamental goals for education, and what can teachers do about it?” -Jason Hertz, Ian Rogers, Chris Small

“Eventually we saw images of mushroom clouds as well, and as Peters showed the audience the picture of the atomic cloud over Hiroshima, he asked, 'Would we now say clouds have no meaning?'” -Dillon Rockrohr

“I wonder if the time and effort it would take to build better communication between material knowledge and humanity wouldn’t be put to better use organizing and taking back the university altogether” -Robert Lipscomb

“But does this make The Revenant good or at least successful art? Even if it pushes viewers near to violence, is that enough?” -Daniel Clausen

“I’ve been meaning to read this for a while... Because who doesn't want to increase their joy and power to act?” -Anne Nagel

Trace the (re)cycling and (re)citing of theoretical inquiry. (Bonus points for use of parenthetical asides, obv.)

“Dr. Pease then referred to Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, who has recently argued that theatrical performance becomes a commoning practice that presents relations of mutual belonging.” -Dan Froid, Robert Lipscomb, Dillon Rockrohr

“This is an idea I’m borrowing from Muriel Harris, who borrowed it from Chip Heath and Dan Heath, who wrote Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.” -Katie McWain

“She drew inspiration from Roland Barthes’s Mythologies, especially his essay on toys. Barthes argues that children’s toys 'literally prefigure the world of adult functions' in order to 'prepare the child to accept them all' (53). Dolls imbibe water and simulate digestion. Miniature soldiers use parachutes. Model trains puff real steam. Toys are microcosms of a social world.” -Jason Hertz

“But cats aren’t just clever and adorable distractions from the content of theory; they have also been deployed to help elucidate content, as is the case in the now somewhat famous “Judith Butler Explained by Cats,” a Socratic dialogue working to help explain her famously difficult book Gender Trouble.” -Zach Beare

“Drawing from various thinkers including Martin Heidegger, Bruno Latour, Charles Peirce and Marshall McLuhan, Peters engages with the conversation over exactly what media is and what this definition of media means in the landscape of media theory and the writing of the history of media.” -Emily Dowdle

“This transformation of space and sense has obvious resonances with Jacques Rancière’s notion of the 'redistribution of the sensible'—art’s ability to shift the parameters of what is deemed intelligible and available to the senses.” -Jaime Brunton

“Which brings us, inevitably, to Kenneth Burke. (How do I always end up here?!)” -Katie McWain

Make pithy statements amenable to being taken out of context.

“Consider table manners.” -Dan Froid

“Never underestimate the power of the Venn diagram.” -Katie McWain

“You are not able to move during this sequence, or to engage with the objects or characters around you.” -Gabi Kirilloff

“He is always a drowned man that, like Ahab’s detached leg, cannot be returned.” -Dan Froid, Robert Lipscomb, Dillon Rockrohr

“So they made costumes in his likeness from materials bought at a local Kmart.” -Jason Hertz

“The horrifying implications of this reality are almost incomprehensible.” -Robert Lipscomb

Pick the perfect image.

"Notes on Our Aesthetics."

Choose not to conclude.

Instead, whether this is your first or last Watershed post, pan out.

The Watershed community includes wonderful readers, commenters, questioners, and listeners (our special thanks to the hundreds of you who've downloaded our Watershed Unfiltered podcasts and for the thousands of times you've clicked on our posts through Facebook). We appreciate the fantastic support we've received from members of the UNL Dept. of English, not to mention the amazing guest posts we've published from graduate students in other areas of the humanities like art and communication studies. We're already excited for the next season of Watershed--coming fall 2016--as the collective continues to branch out (plant growth metaphor intended, of course).

The only way to write a Watershed, and have fun doing it, is together. Jaime Brunton, Dan Froid, Jason Hertz, Robert Lipscomb, Edwardo Rios, Nick White, and I are all wrapping up our work as Watershed contributors this semester. I know that reading and writing theory is supposed to have strengthened my critical imagination, and I do think it has, but I really still can't imagine better collaborators than you all.

-Aubrey Streit Krug

#reviews #aubreystreitkrug