Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

"Yarning" A Playful, Precarious, Potential Right Relationship

someshine's picture

Our concluding activity is a diffraction of Eve Ensler's litany, Karen Barad's concept of entanglement, and John Humbach's discussion of right relationship.

Each member of the class wrote their individual contribution to the litany enumerated (anonymously) below. The model we offered was, "I am over ______./, (and) I commit to ______." All of the slips of paper were mixed together before being passed out at random. One by one, we entangled our ideas by tossing the ball of yarn to the member of the class whose utterance was shared. They then read the slip in their own hands and repeated the tossing process, being careful to pull enough excess string from the ball of yarn prior to toss! Below is a cropped image of our circle and the yarn, captured by Anne Dalke.

"Yarning" A Right Relationship


Please, classmates, return here for inspiration and conversation. If I did not procure your contribution, feel free to email me ( and I'll gladly add it to this post. The semester is coming to a close now, but we're just getting started, eh? ;)

I'm over observing from the sidelines as a passive ally for rape and sexual assault survivors. I commit to the active pursuit of JUSTICE.

I am over seeing academic disciplines and departments as boxes across which it is impossible to think, and I commit to furthering interdisciplinary and transdivisional academic work, both personally and in the Bi-Co community.

I am over feeling the need to fit the expectations of those around me. I commit to let my hair go frizzy, don my (Bryn Mawr) sweatpants, and eat whatever the hell I want.

I am over Bryn Mawr College's cissexist and transphobic admissions policy towards trans women. I commit to presenting a Plenary Resolution at Bryn Mawr's Spring Plenary recommending unconditional acceptance of applications by prospective trans female students for review by the Bryn Mawr College Admissions Department.

I am over presumptions of tragedy, courage, and brokenness with respect to those who have faced adversity, and I commit to being an active listener who is free of judgment and full of support.

I am over trying to handle too much on my own, and I commit to strengthening the power of my alliances and right relationships.

I am over queer-targeted bullying and I commit to forming right relationships with those who need help, and speaking out for those who are silenced.

I am over my fear of posting publicly on Serendip and I commit to speaking my truth to power even in situations of precarity.

I am over the comparison of myself to others, and I commit to a diffractive understanding of those around me, may they be friends, family, peers, teachers, or whatever entangled relationship exists. 

I am over the fear of social rejection and physical harm that many fear as result of "coming out" and I commit to respecting people as whole beings and helping others do the same.

I am over my own silence. I commit to speaking up.

I am over letting my friends' homophobic comments and language go unconfronted and I commit to attempting to end this behavior through education. 

I am over intellectual paralysis and I commit to doing what I can.

I am over people using the internet to perpetuate violence and bullying and I commit to tackling a big problem in any small ways that I can. 

I am over boredom. I am over stagnation... and I commit to speaking up and shouting out what I know and believe to be true. I commit to naming inequtiy when and where I see it. I commit to acting to end it.

I'm over theory used only for discussion and I commit to applying concepts to life in a physical way.

I am over being a victim and I commit to being myself again.

I am over self-deprication and petty belittlement and I commit to entangling my mind and body in a more peaceful intra-action.

I'm over believing a class could not be interdisciplinary and commit to considering the un-named overlaps between subjects.

I'm over institutionalized silence surrounding sexual violence at Haverford College, and I commit to stand up and shout until I have no voice or posters left.

I am over being concerned and preoccupied with the number of men and women in my classes. I commit to encouraging my classmates to not care as well. After all, I'm over the gender binary.

I am over cultures of apathy and neglect and I commit to action and engaged conversation (even when it's uncomfortable or ambiguious!). 

I'm over my own precarity and I commit to silencing it.

I am over the assumption that disciplines and departments are boxes outside of which it is impossible to think and I commit to furthering interdisciplinary and transdivisional spaces, conversations, and knowledge-production, both for myself and the Bi-Co community.

I'm over sitting silently in the name of the normal majority. I commit to living my life freely and honestly, and speaking up louder and prouder for gender, sexuality, and disability rights.


Shlomo's picture

A Belated Post!

I was quite pleased with how our "yarning" final performance turned out.  I had loved the idea from the start, when Josh came up with it, but I was frankly a little concerned that it would be too summer-campy.  And while it was summer-campy, I was really okay with it.  I felt inspired to actually DO what my statement promised I would do.  I felt like other people felt the same way.  Of course, it's always hard to actually spring into action with activism, especially when the fire may have died out since the bonfire we created that Tuesday (forgive this horrific metaphor).  I have to remember how empowered I felt (helped by my bracelet!) and move forward from there.  I hope everyone else does the same.

AmyMay's picture

Our Entangled Space

Sitting down with you all for our final performance seemed like such an apropriate way to end a class that for me has been one of confusion, interest, frustration, growth, trust and empowerment.  This course, the people in it, and the entanglements we formed over the course of the semester have been a completely unique experience for me.  After 24 Bi-Co courses over 3.5 years, this is the first academic safe space I have ever experienced.  It is the first safe space I have ever experienced that emerged through the process of creating right relationships among peers, rather than through a preestablished rule.  It is the first class I have seen where emotion and empowerment were woven into intellectual pursuits-- it went beyond interdisciplinary-- it left disciplines all together and played with human experience in a very raw way.  It is the first course I have been in where students inspired each other as much (or more) than did the professor(s), as evidenced by the interrelated entanglement of our many litany statements.  It allowed us to sit down with a ball of yarn and play a camp activity with complete sincerity, commitment, and a mutual enjoyment and appreciation for each other.  As we move forward and I eventually forget this author and that term, I will always remember the space we created together.  The final web of yarn seems an apropriate visual metaphor for the right relationship that exists between each person in our class.  We created something unspoken, interwoven, and empowering, together.  To echo the sentiments of others in my group, thank you sharing these intra/actions with me.

chelseam's picture


First, I would like to thank every one for such a surprising and unique semester. During this final class, I was struck by the variety of subjects each group chose to perform. In a class that cast such a broad net and allowed us a ton of freedom in choosing webevent topics, etc, it was exciting to see what captured each groups interest as the course came to a close.

I was excited about our performance going into the class, but I wasn't expecting our "over...commit" statements to be as moving as they were - especially when listened to as a group. I was again struck by the diversity in what we are each taking away from this classroom. It felt like a poignant ending, as we declared what we were "over," but our "commitments" seemed to promise new beginnings as well.

The final web of yarn struck me as a visual representation, not only of our statements, but also of the supportive ties we have all made within this classroom space. I know that in both our virtual and physical classrooms, we have all become entangled and somehow changed by each other's perspectives. I found myself feeling nostalgic for the experience as we looked at our web (and the class hadn't even ended yet!).

This final class made me really grateful for the community that we were able to create in that space. I have never had a class where I felt such a sense of support and universal investment in the goals of the classroom. I'd just like to thank everyone for making authentic and thoughtful contributions to this space. I'm sure that this is a class I will remember for a long time. 

Thank you all.

Gavi's picture

Building Right Relationships

A frustration I sometimes have with college classes is the disjunction between theory and practice, or the consideration of one with only a tangential mention of the other. There were times early in this class when I experienced this frustration. We have covered a lot of abstract texts in this course, and I sometimes felt our conversations about these theoretical texts had only theoretical importance, that when our dialogue and theorizing were exposed to the truth and complications of the real world, they might prove short or even completely irrelevant.

Our final exercise was a wonderful way for me to see the productive and generative interaction between theory and practice. We framed the exercise with some pretty theory-laden terms: diffraction, entanglement, right relationships, etc. But those terms really meant something to me when, first, I wrote my statement, and then when we passed around our ball of yarn. I felt grounded (literally, as we were all sitting on the ground) and supported by the various alliances our class has created throughout the semester, which through this exercise, I think, found a way to manifest themselves. Each of your statements moved me so much, mostly because I viewed this litany as our co-constructed link between theory and action. The bridge between being abstractly “over” something and “committing” to some action is not always easy to cross, but I think our classroom community did a good job of that during this exercise and, in various ways, throughout the semester. So: thank you, everyone, for a powerful litany and a meaningful and meaning-making semester.

sel209's picture

I am...

I am honored that I had the opportunity to work with such a creative and engaged group of people, both over email and over dinner :) 

I am overwhelmed (but not surprised) by the power of each of the statements in the litany, as each of them resonates with me on a very deep level.

I am surprised by my own contribution(s) to the litany and would never have guessed at the beginning of the course how far I would come. 

I am grateful to each person in the room for both their silence and their laughter during the reading of the litany and the passing of the yarn.

I am moved every time I look at the picture of our web and see our endless entanglements; never have I seen something that (at least in my opinion) so perfectly represents an abstract concept.

I am delighted that I learned to make a cool bracelet (thanks, Shlomo!) and that it is now proudly displayed on my wall (because it was too big for my wrist).

I am hopeful that each of our commitments will be honored, and I look forward to the improvements in our community that are inevitably to come.  

charlie's picture

entangling our experiences

I'd like to begin by saying that I thought that every presentation on Tuesday was phenomenal. Never have I been in a class before in which not a single group's presentation looked half-done. So, wow.'s dance presenation was fascinating. I had never thought about gender and dance in that way before, and this was an interesting first look.

Kammyk, katierandall, and amophrast's activity with the "if the world were 100 25 people" was a really neat way to see gender in a world-wide context. I also thought the backpack/rock part was pretty cool. I would have liked to have seen us do it with Chris Cleave, because as Maria brought up, it might pose a few problems in terms of balance and number of rocks. 

jmorgant, venndiagram, and phenoms' activity was such a fun refresher of all of the terms and authors that we have come across this year. It was fun to see which terms/people were super easy to figure out and which were a bit more of a struggle.

aybala50, lgleysteen, leamirella, S. Yaeger's Apples to Apples in a gen/sex theme was so creative. It was interesting to see how applicable so many of the terms are to so many other terms. 

jfwright, essietee, kimk, lwacker, rachelr's video was possibly my favorite of all of the presentations. I thought the video summed up a lot of what we have learned all semester. I thought it was really well-done and challenged the viewer to think about gen/sex in a new, interesting way. 

someshine, AmyMay, charlie, chelseam, Gavi, sel209, shlomo (my group)'s. I loved how candid everyone was with their piece of the litany. I thought that every piece was heartfelt, moving, and wonderful. I also loved seeing everyone connected by the yarn. Having a physical representation of entanglement, which can be a somewhat abstract concept, was fantastic. I was really proud of everyone for allowing the activity to be a safe space for those who chose not to claim their piece of the litany and everyone helped out to make sure that everyone still got a chance to catch the yarn and be a piece of the web. I have never enjoyed giving a presentation as much as I did this one.

Thanks for a wonderful semester everyone!