All Together Now

Recently, Bethany shared a twitter conversation about why “Praxis Program Team” has been listed among the authors of publications and presentations on Prism. As a member of the 2013-14 Praxis cohort, I can attest to the fact that we haven’t yet given as much thought to the question of publication and presentation as previous years have. In our charter, we adopted the “Equal Credit” clause from the 2012-13 cohort’s charter, which was itself a thoughtful reiteration of the same clause in the 2011-12 cohort’s charter. But since ratifying our charter in mid-September, we haven’t taken the time to think critically about what the “Equal Credit” clause means in the long run.

As the end of our fellowship year together looms on the horizon, it seems prudent to reflect on what ‘equal credit’ means in our re-imagination of the Ivanhoe Game as a WordPress theme. It seems especially important given that collaborative work is a concept not entirely at home in the academic world in which we, as humanities and social sciences graduate students, have been well-steeped.

We started the year with a gargantuan task – to redefine, redesign, and build anew the Ivanhoe Game. To accomplish that goal, however, we had the even greater challenge of attempting to become a cohesive, functional group. We struggled (or, as Francesca more thoughtfully wrote, we took our time) to draw upon all of the intellectual and methodological strengths represented in our cohort. Tensions eased as soon as we broke into development, design, and support teams to start building Ivanhoe, but then we had to deal with communication breakdowns along the way. One thing, however, has become patently clear: the whole of what we have accomplished thus far is certainly more than the sum of our individual contributions.

Since I appear obsessed with metaphors in writing about Praxis, I offer one from my previous life as a chamber musician. I played Baroque cello and was often asked ‘why would you ever choose to play basso continuo and not just focus on being a solo concert cellist?’ Of course, one can always produce an appropriately snide response to such a question (‘have you seen the number of solo pieces for Baroque cello?’). But the fact is, my motivations for choosing Baroque cello as my instrument were different. I thought it was absolutely fantastic the way that the basso continuo formed the foundation of all (well, most) Baroque music, and the way individual performers melded into a single instrument in Baroque ensembles was breathtakingly powerful.

Every member of a musical ensemble is responsible for practicing and developing his or her individual technique and musicality. But it is when those individuals come together as an ensemble that the performance happens, that stories are told. This, to me, reflects the principle underlying our “Equal Credit” clause, and it is why the re-imagined Ivanhoe belongs to the Scholars’ Lab and Praxis Program Team as a whole.

And look how much fun it is to work together! When you close an issue, Eric might even draw you a unicorn fighting Pegasos before crossing off the issue from our whiteboard:

Eric_Pegasos_Unicorn

2013-14 Praxis Fellow and PhD Candidate in Classical Art & Archaeology working on South Italian Pottery and Vase-Painting. Indulges in reading sci-fi, petting cats, and eating chocolate.

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