Home » Blog

Book symposium begins this week

I’m delighted that an interactive symposium on my book, hosted by the wonderful site Syndicate, has begun this week.   The Learning Gene emerged as a pedagogical project directly out of this book project, especially chapter 5 (which is titled “Tomatoes in the Classroom”).   I found it to be enormously useful, receiving four sets of commentaries on the book (each of which I’ve crafted responses to).  It’s fascinating to note how this book, once published, has transformed into open-ended and dynamic conversations about form, perspective, the relations between knowledge and existence, and the very nature of hope (and despair).  Over the next four weeks, each commentary and response will be published on Syndicate. I’m excited to find out what new questions and problems emerge from these conversations.

Book cover of Kierkegaard after the Genome

Podcasting & Process event series

Here’s an updated line-up of our Podcasting & Process event series.   Everyone is welcome!

Jan 12, 7pm @ Loft 112:  “Politics,” featuring Kate Jacobson (CJSW) and Azren Raju (The Language Nerd)

Feb 1, 8:30am in the Visualization Lounge, first floor of Riddell Library, Mount Royal University:  Guy Obrecht, performing Alvin Lucier’s “We are sitting in a room” (1969)

Feb 8, 10am in the Visualization Lounge, first floor of Ridell Library, MRU:  Mickey Vallee, talking about “Voice, Intimacy & Control: Intersections in Sound & Science Studies”

Feb 9, 7pm @ Loft 112:  “Sound,” featuring Mickey Vallee, talking about “Soundscape Cartography in Northern Alberta”

March 2, 7pm @ Loft 112:  “Design,” featuring Meg Wilcox (Journalism at MRU) and Sean Perrin (Clarineat podcast)

There will be beer/cider by donations at the Loft 112 events; Loft 112 is wheelchair accessible through the front library, and washroom is gender neutral.   These events are sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Department of Humanities at Mount Royal University, as well as Pod Summit.


Podcasting & Process: a series of philosophical meet-ups

The Learning Gene is hosting a series of philosophical meet-ups, beginning on December 1, 2017, to explore the stakes of podcasting:  the import of voices, especially in relation to the craft of editing and framing, and the significance of perspectives shared through audio-creation.

Each event is organized around a theme (Process, on Dec 1; Politics on Jan 12, Sound on Feb 9, and Design on March 2) and will take place in Loft 112, in Calgary’s East Village neighbourhood, at 7pm. Loft 112 is wheel-chair accessible, through the front lobby, with gender-neutral washrooms.   Loft 112 is at #112, 535 8 Ave SE.

This series is sponsored by Mount Royal University’s Faculty of Arts and Department of Humanities, organized by Ada Jaarsma in collaboration with Logan Peters and Pod Summit.


Poster for Podcasting & Process series

Critical Podcasting

(co-written by Ada Jaarsma & Anna Mudde)

We are each philosophy professors, and we’re both increasingly drawn to audio as a medium for critical inquiry, especially in relation to teaching and learning.  The world of podcasts is growing all the time, and there are many podcasts that lend themselves directly—as open access educational resources—to the classroom.  (See our curated list of “especially teachable” episodes here).  Audio, in the form of recorded and edited conversations, adds invaluable dimensions to the exchange of ideas: the tone of a person’s voice, as they express a story or assert a claim, makes the somatic and affective aspects of arguments more apparent.  (“What happens when scholarly communication gets intimate?” is a question that arises in the context of academic podcasting (Altman 2015, 573)). As well, when a podcast is distributed in an accessible format, we are able to read the transcript or listen to an episode, enabling a greater range of communication-styles.  And, significantly for higher education contexts in particular, podcasts tend to be free to download and exchange, and so the wide range of podcasts expands the possibilities of curricular content that students can access without accumulating higher educational costs.

But we’ve been wondering something:  what’s the rationale for our assumption that audio is an apt medium for critical, collaborative thinking?  And, if we grant this assumption, what would be a helpful basis for choosing which podcasts to incorporate into our classes, podcasts that exemplify what we’re calling “critical podcasting”?   Read more

Starting in the Middle (part 2)

Although the podcast The Learning Gene hasn’t yet launched, the broader project has been underway for a full year.  This past year, two groups of students have worked on the project in the context of a Feminist Philosophy class (in fall 2016) and a Philosophy of Science class (in winter 2017).  You can peruse the full slate of assignments, readings and lesson plans of Feminist Philosophy and Philosophy of Science, if you’d like to learn more about the background of the project.  And you can listen to the students’ audio projects here.

I decided to share my own first-ever audio essay as a pre-episode to The Learning Gene—in advance of the podcast’s launch.  It’s posted here on this site in the spirit of “starting in the middle.”  It’s actually a key backdrop to the podcast because it contains the project’s tagline:  listening to things we don’t know how to listen for.  This is something that Erin Manning expressed during our skype-conversation about teaching, and it captures the essentially open-ended ethos of this project.  The audio-essay itself, however, remains somewhat of a draft (which is why it won’t be part of the official Season 1 of the podcast).

There are pedagogical reasons for sharing work that is provisional or not-entirely-polished, I think.  Bhanu Kapil, the amazingly astute poet and post-colonial thinker, explains for example that there’s no rushing the process of creative work.  A narrative becomes itself in time, she writes.  And she really means it:  writing requires duration.  It can be so painful, this experience of the duration in which writing takes place, that she created a chant to accompany her own writing process:  “I learned how to re-write my work with as much passion and joy and curiosity as I had given to the writing of it.  I even invented a chant:  Re-writing is writing.  Writing is re-writing.” Read more

Starting in the Middle (part 1)

I am in the process of launching a podcast, The Learning Gene, as part of a bigger project that brings audio together with philosophy, science studies and pedagogy.

I’m sharing a pre-episode to the podcast in the spirit of starting in the middle.    The podcast will launch with actual episodes shortly.  As Isabelle Stengers writes, “What is unknowable is unknown” (2011, 261).  Put otherwise, we don’t know what we don’t know.  We start in the middle as a way to encounter the unknown.  (Of course, “the unknown” could be a matter of concepts and relationships…. but it could also be a matter of craft, design and genre.  I’ve left in some truly terrible audio quality in this pre-episode, for example– in part because I’m still not sure why the tape is so garbled in this rendered mp3!  There’s a moment in my interview with Erin Manning in which I say, “Hi, Erin, it’s Ada!”  but in the rendered version, you can barely hear a thing.  I’m still mystified at what went wrong in the sound design process here). Read more