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From One Confusion to Another

S. Yaeger's picture

Shannon Yaeger

Playful, Performative, Precarious, Perspective

Self Evaluation


I came into this class terrified.  It was my first semester at Bryn Mawr, and starting a class with juniors was incredibly daunting to me.  I spent a lot of the first half of the semester afraid to speak in class, though I did speak in break out groups.  Right from the beginning, I found the readings pretty interesting, though some of them were very confusing (I’m looking at you, Karen Barad).  As the semester wore on, I could not seem to shake the thought that I wasn’t ever fully grasping some of the scientific texts, but I did try to grasp them.  In terms of reading, I would say that I was a good reader for this class.

In terms of speaking, I did eventually start speaking more in whole class discussions, but I do wish that I had done so sooner.  I realize now that my silence may have really hurt me in terms of learning how to speak in class.  I feel like I learned in this area, but that I prevented myself from learning as much as I could have.

Looking back over my writing for the course, I can see a progression from my first paper, where there are a lot of dangling ideas, and my final one, where I experimented more formats and sources and ended up feeling like I had really travelled from one point to another in the writing.  I think that my papers were stronger than my weekly postings, and I suspect that this is the case because I was less afraid of scrutiny when I was writing a paper.  I understand that this is a silly distinction to make, because I was posting both online, but it is where I was.  Again, I think I became more active in this area as the semester moved forward.

Finally, in terms of what I’ve learned from this class, I’ve learned that there really is no one right way to do or be anything, really.  I’ve grown more comfortable with communicating through forms that are not just written, and way more comfortable with performance as communication.  I think the center of this new comfort really is having been asked to reconsider performance as something that we all do constantly, instead of something that is done occasionally.  Just like thinking of gender as something that is performed, rather than innate is a liberating shift, thinking about performance as something we are all always doing made me feel like I do have the ability to perform.  I think that these are the concepts that I will carry along with me, along with Barad’s poetic way of explaining and understanding physics, as I move through other classes.  Though I was thoroughly confused repeatedly throughout the semester, I feel like I gained a good deal from this class.