2019 Grant: Anastasia Kriachko Røren at Queen Mary University of London and University of Hawaii at Mānoa
"I received a comprehensive understanding of different approaches to the documentaries´ theories and fiction/ non-fiction divide," says Anastasia Kriachko Røren.
Anastasia Kriachko Røren
First stay abroad: Queen Mary University of London, London.
My first research stay at the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) was an amazing experience.
The grant from the ATTR allowed me to meet experienced and talented researchers with similar interests, present and get constructive feedback on my research, and more broadly to think beyond my routine work, which is for the moment mostly consists of writing.
Academic strikes and thought-provoking conversations
My stay at the QMUL was very productive, as I had an opportunity to attend workshops and PhD seminars, as well as supervision sessions with the leading specialists in the discipline.
Even though my stay was partially interrupted with the strikes that the members (including my host professor) of the University and College Union started to fight for their rights. Despite this, I had a lot of opportunities to engage with academics across London.
Furthermore, despite the ongoing strike, I had several constructive and thoughtful conversations and feedback sessions with my Queen Mary supervisor. During the strike, we could semi-officially discuss my research on the “neutral territory”, the Mile End chapel. St. Benet’s chapel and lounge are used by the students and staff for meetings, social events, study and meditation.
Unique opportunity to meet experienced scholars
One of the most important was my presentation at the UCL SSEES Russian Cinema Research Group who created an open event based on my dissertation. This was a unique opportunity for me to present my work in front of experienced scholars from film studies.
Their approaches to filmic texts from the positions of aesthetics, gender studies and the history of cinema, helped me to look at my research from a different angle.
This event also was a good starting point in meeting other PhD students who were very helpful and which resulted in future plans collaboration on research and dissemination.
An opportunity to teach
During my stay in London, I had an opportunity to teach a seminar for the students at King’s College London. I was asked to help with the audiovisual sources on the modern history of Russia.
It was interesting to discuss with the students documentary films which represent Western and Russian political positions.
I suggested they should watch the same documentary I am analysing in my research and one of the films I used in my focus group. It was interesting to compare the way these spectators reacted to the film.
Having in mind that the teaching can soon be part of my university duties, it was definitely a useful experience.
Receiving a comprehensive understanding
I think one of the most important components of my research stay was participation in the conference Documentaries and the Fiction/Nonfiction Divide (Queen Mary University of London, November 15-16, 2019).
Even though I was not presenting there, it was very inspiring to be at the panels.
Among the participants there were prominent theorists and historians of documentary films.
Overall, I received a comprehensive understanding of different approaches to the documentaries´ theories and fiction/ non-fiction divide. This component was lacking in my theoretical framework.
Interview with a film director
During my stay I also interviewed a Russian film director Evgeniy Tsymbal, who was at the moment teaching at the QMUL.
This interview will be included in my dissertation chapter about film production in Russia.
To be continued...
This was Part 1 of my Research stay abroad supported by the ATTR and my Department (ILOS, UiO). It was a great opportunity, which I am very grateful for. And now I am looking forward to part 2.
Part Two: University of Hawaii at Mānoa
One of the main reasons why I wanted to go to the University of Hawaii was the opportunity to work with professor Michael Shapiro. Professor Shapiro is a world-renowned scholar whose work spans across fields such as critical theory, political philosophy, culturology, the theory of cinema, theology, IR theory, sociology and others.
Being able to talk to Professor Shapiro and really get an understanding of his multidisciplinary approach inspired and helped me greatly to develop the theoretical and methodological chapters of my dissertation. Professor Shapiro is not only of the most prominent social theorists of our days, but also the most welcoming host I’ve ever had.
He took care of my stay completely, made sure I received access to the library, my own office space, and all the sources at the UH Mānoa.
We had discussions almost on the everyday basis, and we have kept in touch over email ever since I came back to Norway. I am still getting feedback from Professor Shapiro, and I am able to follow all of his graduate courses from a distance.
Courses and working with methodology
In his teaching and research work, Professor Shapiro links films to politics, which is an essential departing point in my own work. The approach is influenced by Gille Deleuze’s philosophical reading cinema and Jacques Ranciere’s politics of aesthetics, as well as a Foucauldian emphasis on critique.
Staying at the UH Mānoa I had a chance to attend courses by Professor Shapiro (Senior Seminars in Political science and Writing politics) where I would have writing exercises and read and discuss a lot of literature. It was an important experience to see how Professor Shapiro is using films in teaching process for both undergraduate students and for the PhDs.
In the classrooms the films are rearticulated within different subjects, and repeated within different context, so that they produce different meanings. I am including this approach into my methodological chapter and hope to use it in my future teaching at the UiO.
Working with students
During my stay at the UH I got in contact with the Russian club. I participated in their meetings and presented my research.
It was interesting to receive a feedback, but also to learn what knowledge do the students lack and what are they interested in. Similarly, attending classes by Professor Shapiro for the undergraduates and talking to the students, I received a lot of helpful information about the best practices of teaching with the usage of the films.
Different paths of studying nation-building. The lessons of Hawaiian language.
During my stay at the UH Mānoa the University organized open lessons of the Hawaiian language.
It happened for the first time in the history of the University. It was an important course not only for those who was interested in learning language, but for the whole Hawaiian community and for the reconstructing of national identity on the islands. While my Hawaiian language skills are novice at the best, attempting to immerse myself in a different language heightened my sensitivity towards the importance of language in solidifying a sense of community among marginalized peoples.
I wanted to thank again ATTR for this amazing opportunity to have these two research stays.
And even though the first stay was interrupted with the strikes at the University and the second I had to finish earlier because of the COVID-19 situation, this experience enriched my PhD research enormously. It has widened my perspectives on the approaches to the theories and methods of audiovisual interpretation, as well as the interdisciplinarity aspects of working with different texts, including fiction, filmic and other texts.