Welcome to my Project!

  • Have you ever walked down a street and seen someone you know, and for a split second not know how to approach them? Sometimes you know exactly how to initiate the interaction, be it a nod, a wave, a hug... Sometimes, within that split second, you react to the other person's cues. If they smile, you smile back, if they slow down and extend their arms to embrace you, you return the gesture... What about that awkward moment where you see someone you know and your mind doesn't register who they are until after they pass. There's so many of them.
                            I was thinking about all this one day, trying to understand how we manifest these social cues and what governs these interactions. I thought about this long hill that connects upper and lower campus on the Brandeis University campus. During rush hour, or between classes, this hill holds a lot of traffic as many students are rushing to and from classes. It is during this time, when some are rushing, others are relaxed, and when we're all trying to keep up in one form or another, that piqued my interest.

Hey there! My name is Michelle Miller. I am currently a junior at Brandeis University with a Double Major in Theater Arts (specifically, the Acting Track) and English, with an intended Business minor.
  • In this site, I analyze this strip of behavior from my day-to-day life and attempt to uncover the social rules and regulations shaping that behavior. This ritual, along with other habits and routines of life, are "restored behaviors. Restored behavior is living behavior treated as a film director treats a strip of film. These strips of behavior can be rearranged or reconstructed; they are independent of the causal system (personal, social, political, technological, etc.) that brought them into existence. They have a life of their own" (Schechner, p 34). By analyzing them, we manipulate "...the social order" provoking "awareness of vulnerability of societal institutions" (Conquergood, p. 83). I will discuss my direct behavior in the event, the social and personal implications of my behavior, and the space in which this is all confined in and its ensuing relevance.
  • This is what I try to answer within the course of this site:
    • What were the specific activities performed in this strip of behavior? What did I DO? What were they in response to?
    • Where do these repeated behavior come from? How do we learn these behaviors? Is it taught? Was there a formal, institutional set of rules and procedures created to initiate these responses?
    • Who initiated each encounter? Who initiated the performance specific to each encounter? How did our behavior reproduce or change the alignment of "insiders" and "outsiders" within a given interaction?
    • How does the specific space on campus, the Hill, govern, constrain and/or enable our behaviors? Is there a tacit or explicit set of rules and guidelines for using the space? Is there an implicit "map" governing the use of space?
    • How does archiving this strip of behavior encourage reflection and make the behavior reflexive? Will this analysis cause a change in my performance the next time this behavior is initiated?
    •  Before beginning this trek, it is important that I include a few definitions to illuminate a few key concepts. Roy A. Rappaport, a distinguished anthropologist in the study of ritual and ecology, defined 'ritual' as tending to be "stylized, repetitive, stereotyped, often but not always decorous, and they also tend to occur at special places and at times fixed by the calendar, or specified circumstances..." (Schechner, p 53). My trek is a perfect example of this: a repetitive phenomenon that occurs at a special place and time and defined by special circumstances. Moreover, this particular strip of behavior is transformative and reflexive, for with every time I go up and down this hill, my mood and social status can fluctuate based on who I see and how I feel that day.
Thank you so much for visiting my site. I hope this makes me you think about your own particular behaviors during this every day occurrence. If you have any questions, please reply to the site or feel free to email me.

Thank you.
    Michelle Miller