Are We Strange?


In this final podcast of the Strange Communities class John Zagurski, Robbie Toombs, and Katie Matthew talk about what characteristics the three communities we studied (composed of gang members, monks, and wikifolk) had in common with one another. Is it fair to say that “extreme” communities are the most “strange”? Is there any way of being objective about our lives when we live in close proximity to the communities that define us?


In this podcast Marybeth Allinson, Geoffrey Wright, and Carlos Merino recap the strange communities class projects unveiled this week. The groups adopted creative, historical, or ethnographic projects examining ...

  • Spiritual Space: Inspired by Into Great Silence, document spacetime settings here at UCA or in Conway with the potential for nurturing contemplation and religious experience. Investigate both settings specifically designed to foster spirituality and those that are unexpected or hidden from casual view. Create a film or other multimedia presentation that has the possibility of creating an atmosphere of spiritual awareness through its presentation of these settings.
  • Communities of Resistance: Through participation, interviews, observation, and documentary research, examine a group on campus or in Conway that has formed to resist what it sees as the overriding practices or values of its surroundings. Explain the dimensions of resistance, capitulation, boundary formation, mutual support, and outreach present in the group you chose.
  • Mission Creep: Take a look at a group on campus or in Conway that has been around for at least a few years. Through interviews, observation, and documentary research, investigate its understanding of its mission over its lifespan. What did the group start out hoping to do, and has that mission changed over the years? What were the factors that led to stasis or change in the mission? How closely connected to its mission have the group's activities been over the years? If there has been a lack of explicit mission in the group at any period, can you deduct the mission from its actual practice or rhetoric? How has success been defined, measured, and psychologically communicated to internal and external audiences in the group's history?

In this episode Patricia O'Neal, Caitlin Porter, and Sarah Fodge talk about the history of information storage and retrieval, discuss two examples of wiki communities (Wikipedia: Arkansas Project; Little Rock Renaissance), and make connections between wikis and virtual worlds. They finish up by debating the merits of wikis, and whether to trust them, and whether virtual worlds are really "real" worlds!


In this episode Kendra Stuart, LeeAnne Maxey, and Divy Goel discuss the projects that they have been assigned for the Strange Communities class. There are 6 different groups working on 3 different projects.  Members from two groups discuss their group projects. Divy, from Mission Creep, will discuss his group's findings on the Student Orientation Staff. LeeAnne, from Spiritual Spaces, will talk about her group's project on the Honors College as a spiritual space.

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In this episode Austin Keaster, Mark Senia, and Michael J. Hinds interview a monk from the Order of the Lamp. Brother (Tele)Porter talks about the connections that can be made between his duties at the monastery and his responsibilities to his World of Warcraft guild.


In this episode of the Strange Communities podcast Saroj Adhikari, Desiree Paulhamus, and Genevieve Kimbrough talk about the various motives of Second Life and Facebook users.  Do both groups have the characteristics of role-playing gamers? Do these online applications have educational purposes?




Mitchell Adams, Matthew Hill, and Caroline Borden discuss wiki community, distributed collaboration, and folksonomy. Why would people want to share? Do social media contributors do it because it is fun? Should information want to be free? Can open source wikis replace textbooks?


In this episode Tim Peterson, Brandon King, and David Wilkins discuss the relative merits of strict churches, and the reasons why they are gaining popularity in both America and Japan. What should we fear more: The potential of strict churches to incite religious violence? Or the damning of souls?


In this fifth episode of the Strange Communities podcast Hayley Sebourn, Katelyn Johnson, and Brannen Payne discuss the life of sixteenth-century mystic Saint Teresa of Avila. Saint Teresa established a reformed branch of the order known as the Carmelites. In light of Teresa's mission, what is it to lead a good and religious life? How do we reconcile her emotive and introspective mystical faith? If she were alive today where would she fit? Would she fit? Is she an ideal capacitor for religious understanding in our world, or does her vision appear too extreme?


This week Natalie Bergstrom, Tyler Floyd, and Stephanie Sun talk about the rise of monasticism in the ancient world and the importance of ascetic practice to individuals and in the wider community. Does our salvation come from grace or good works? Is the monastic search about becoming closer to God or becoming holier than thou?


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