Newsletter Issue:
Spring 2021

The Virtual Residency: A Conversation Between Hannah Christian and Starr Page

by Hannah Christian and Starr Page

Cohort ’20

When did you become an IDSVA student?

Hannah: I discovered IDSVA online in October of 2019 and, after chatting with Dejan Lukic, decided not to wait to apply. He said, “You can wait for a year and still be in the position you are today.” Wise words. So I got myself in gear and got my application documents submitted for the May 2020 cohort.

Starr: Dr. David C. Driskell, founding member of IDSVA Visiting Faculty and University of Maryland professor and mentor, and now a treasure who has joined the ancestors, encouraged me to pursue the program at IDSVA. And thus, in May 2020, I became a doctoral student at IDSVA.

What were your thoughts about our May 2020 residency being online? What about January?
Hannah: Honestly, when I heard about the residency switching to an online format, I was glad to know that our safety was a priority. I have three kids, and I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of leaving them at home in the middle of a global pandemic. On the other hand, it’s tough to miss out on bonding time with cohort members, and it can be challenging to make enough space for these new ideas about philosophy while you’re still in the routine at home.

The May 2020 residency itself was great! It was well structured and paced, and we learned so much from sharing that time with our September ’19 cohort friends. January was equally fun. I enjoyed seeing everyone’s art and chatting in the Zoom breakout rooms we used to have “informal” meetup sessions.

Starr: In the virtual residency, I have been introduced to philosophers, writers, and artists who were new to me. Readings, lectures, writings, and presentations, I must admit, was a challenge; nonetheless, the virtual residency allowed me to focus with an intense immersion into the program. It is now 2021, and although I survived May 2020 residency, I continue to wrestle with Kant, Hegel, Schürmann, Karl Marx, to name a few. These philosophers require an expansion in my thinking, and I question their ideologies.

I am volunteering to work on some of the many papers that Dr. Driskell has left us. If you would like to participate, please go to the link below. Many hands are needed for transcription.

We are approaching another online residency (this will be our third!). What excites you? What does not?
Hannah: After two online residency experiences, I know it will be well thought out and organized. It will be good to see everyone and share thoughts and ideas. At this point, for me, it becomes a “getting out of the daily grind” issue. How do I set aside enough time to soak in the ideas and the content? If I were in Rome or Berlin, I would be experiencing art and chatting with my cohort members and faculty, getting out of the routine that keeps me from enlarging my thinking process. Instead, I have to keep the plates spinning at home and find as much space as possible to think, to meditate on everything I’m learning.

Starr: Overall, I was expecting IDSVA or mostly any other doctoral program to be 85-90% virtual. So, for me, I look forward to approaching another online residency. While it is a challenge, I have been told repeatedly to “just stick with it, and in the long run, you will see…” I am vehemently clinging to that advice.

Nonetheless, I enjoy traveling, and I will be pleased to be traveling abroad through the IDSVA program soon.  One of the locations that I still want to “sit” with is the Castle Spannocchia in Tuscany. As a vegan (mostly) and minimalist, eating fresh food sets my spirit with joy.



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