June 9, 2015

Update from the 2014-2015 Program!

Experience of Claire Class

The 2015 social studies of institutions conference that centered around the topic recursive learning concluded in amsterdam last week!  Photos and highlights will be up as soon as they are available.  In the meantime, here are photos and an exclusive with one student from the 2014-2015 exchange.

Image to the Right (L-R): Marie DuBoucher, Raphael Wolff, Aaron Hames, Adeline Denis, Claire Class

Image Below (L-R):  Raphael and Claire chat after class.

 

Students from EHESS, UvA, and WashU (pictured above) are participating in this year’s exchange.  TAF web editors caught up with Claire Class in March of 2015 to hear about her experience, particularly her time in Paris.

Claire Class is a sixth-year student in the English literature department at WashU, where she is examining early-20th century literature by sociologists at the periphery of the Chicago school.  Participating in the exchange in Paris and Amsterdam, she is having the opportunity to study with current and significant social science scholars overseas.  During a conversation over video chat, she talked about her time in Paris,

“There is a casual/collegial relationship in which we can speak openly about contemporary and historical works.  They might encourage me to be careful about my interpretation of so-and-so’s writing, or not be so reliant on one particular scholar's criticism. Of course, you understand the value of your project from your field, but it helps to hear the stakes that other people identify from their vantage point.” 

She mentioned sitting in on some seminars in sociological theory at EHESS. However, she admits that the majority of her time in Paris has been spent sipping espresso at cafés as she writes-up her dissertation and participates in one-on-one conversations with other scholars. 

Image above: Home of the LIER Laboratory in the same building as the former residence of August Comte.

In each portion of the exchange, there is one class that is mandatory.  At WashU, it is a class on anthropological and sociological theories of institutions.  At EHESS, there is a workshop at LIER, in which participants share and critique work with other LIER scholars.  Reflecting on the total experience so far, Claire explained what she has taken from it:

“These activities expose us to dispositifhabitus, actor-network theory, orders of worth, intersectionality… all of these different analytics for representing the complex interactions of society.  We are taught how to theorize the multiplicitous through the singular.  How do we create a cohesive theory that is not reductionist?  A lot of the history of these sociological theories gets distorted and repressed.  Many of these different analytics materialized out of each other.  For example, we see how actor-network theory came out of performance theory and various linguistic theories.  Bowen and Dodier do a lot to excavate that deep history for working on these problems.  We learn about one theory's limitations compared to the others.  This relates to my dissertation project, the long history.  The import of my project is trying to suggest that the early-20th century sociologists were already grappling with how to represent complexity.  How do you represent gender in a way that is both responsible and efficacious?  Ecological theories of gender were already in play, which then influenced the Chicago school.”

Claire remarked that for her, it has been great to be back in the classroom at this point in her dissertation writing, particularly internationally—there is value added.  In reading and conversing with other scholars, she explained that she can really see how different analytics have materialized out from each other.  She believes her analysis is richer because of it.