Edgy Public Scholarship
I am passionate about public scholarship and developing novel ways of engaging audiences, through performance, comedy, and experimenting with the boundaries of scholarly output. I enjoy carving out new ways of being an (intentionally) funny public scholar. I firmly believe that integrating more artistic, creative, and popularized forms of communication is the way to reach and engage wider audiences. (I even paid an artist to draw a caricature of me to prove that I am serious about this stuff. Now I have to live with the soul-crushing fruits of his labour).
Over the years, I have collaborated with comedians, satirists, illustrators, and improvisers. On occasion, I have even channeled some of my own creative juice into composing satirical texts or taken part in comedic performances myself. I am happy to share my experiences of conducting public scholarship and blurring the lines between comedy and research dissemination at conferences and research schools or on whatever platform you will offer. Well, not any. I do have certain criteria. No nudity, for a start.
Innovating Public Scholarship
I initiated, designed, and led the "New Public Outreach Strategies for Research on Religious Controversies" (2016-2017), which received funding from The Research Council of Norway. This project included collaborations with: a variety of artists, Religion: Going Public, colleagues across disciplinary divides, journalist practitioners, and The Sigtuna Foundation. The New Public Outreach project covered a wide range of public scholarship activities: an international conference, blogging workshops, media appearance workshops. The flagship event, Laugh or Die, an innovative performance and media production about humor, religion and fear, which blurred the lines between comedic and academic output. I was the artistic director and managed the whole shebang. Rumour has it, that Laugh or Die was the world’s first event about humour, religion, and fear, in Norwegian.
Talking Like An Expert
If need be, I can talk like an expert. Following the political transitions in Arab countries in 2011, I provided heaps of expert commentary. As a result, in 2012 I was, together with a team of colleagues from Centre for Islamic and Middle East Studies (CIMS) awarded the University of Oslo’s Public Outreach Award for being prolific experts continuously sharing our analysis of ‘the Arab-Spring’, as events unfolded.
Speaking & Writing So That Anyone Can Understand
The thing that defines me the most in terms of my communication - is that - my desire to be understood - is far greater than my desire to speak in pompous language. I consider it a bit of a brain-twister to master the art of communicating complex messages in ways that appeal to wider audiences. It is such a kick to succeed. Launching the blog Religion: Going Public testifies to this commitment.
In the editorial group of the popularized, peer-reviewed, and collaborative academic blog: Religion: Going Public, we work together as a blogging collective, through text workshops, collaborating on editorial tasks and recruiting, and, on occasion, training guest bloggers. We like to think that our work- intensive way of running a blog pays off in terms of posts that are easy on the eye and fun to read. I very much enjoy writing Religion: Going Public blog posts and benefit from input from the editorial team as much as any guest contributor. Still, I am the only one in the editorial group to earn the nickname ‘Queen of Sexy Titles’, a crown I carry with great pride. Speaking of which, the headings of this website are kind of drab.
Laugh Or Die: Blurring Comedy and Research Output
Laugh or Die (2017) was a pioneering stage - and media production, which blurred the lines between research dissemination and comedy. The idea to create Laugh or Die sprung out of conversations with colleagues during the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo, where we amongst other things discussed how humor and fear appear to be deeply entangled in many people’s responses to both religion and terror. I was the Laugh or Die initiator, project manager, artistic director, presentation coach – and more. Laugh or Die featured several clever, witty and entertaining academic presentations that ran 5-7 minutes each, followed by fantastic comedy acts on topic, performed by selected satirists, improvisers and standup comedians. Laugh or Die, was professionally filmed by Oslo Media House and the edited videos are available here. All written material such as the website was satirical in content and composed by yours truly. The promo-videos were partly scripted (by me), partly improvised. Laugh or Die was a huge success. Sadly, it’s all in Norwegian so I guess you will just have to take my word for it.