Faculty Research Colloquium with Professor Carmen McClish
By Sarah Murphy '20, April 13, 2017
As part of the Faculty Colloquium research series, Saint Anselm College Associate Professor Carmen L. McClish presented to colleagues, students and members of the Manchester community on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017. Her presentation was titled, "Play: Urban Tricksters, Rebel Clowns and the Unruly Mob." Professor McClish is an assistant professor in the English department. The presentation discussed what play is, as well as the different types of play.
In McClish's introduction, she discussed play as an interdisciplinary principle. McClish explained play as "... a communication act that is based in ambiguity in both language and bodily gestures..." As discussed by McClish, play is for growth. Play exhibits compassion, courage, idealism, fun and humor. McClish discussed the three different types of play: "chaotic play" is associated with the unruly mob, "performative play" with clowns, and "aesthetic play" with tricksters.
Looking deeper into chaotic play, McClish discussed the often negative connotation that large groups or say the 'unruly mob' often have. However, the meaning behind large events can be tied to localism or promoting a healthy environment. Chaotic play creates a platform for ideas. McClish discussed one specific event that she has personally experienced, International Pillow Fight Day.
Performative play and tricksters were also discussed. A famous group involved with performative play is the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army. Another participant is the Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, which is famously known for promoting the boycott of Starbucks and other widely-known institutions. More commonly known examples of said play are street art and guerrilla gardening in New York City.
These types of play, according to McClish, exhibit playful democratic activity. She specifically cites that play creates visual culture, fleeting moments and an invitation for participation. McClish answered many questions from her colleagues as well as students. Her contribution to the faculty colloquium research series presented new ideas about play and made the audience consider their participation in play.