My guest this week is Vivian Asimos who recently achieved her PhD on theology and virtual storytelling at Durham, with ‘Slender Man’ as her main case study, and we begin by talking about blurring the line in horror between fiction and reality.
Born in Florida, Vivian reveals how she has to give different answers to the question of where she is from as she has been living in Durham for several years. She talks about the cold war in a previous institution between Theology and Religious Studies and about the ‘intellectual rollercoaster’ with the concept of Theology. Both of her parents are ‘education forward’ people and she discusses how she is perhaps following what her mother would have done if she’d taken a different path.
We discuss the difference between intelligence and education and how Vivian wanted to be a creative writer. Vivian reveals how she found herself stumbling into Religious Studies and she talks about the narrative dimension to her PhD.
Vivian is more of an audio than a visual person and we find out that she played the piano until she went to university. Musically, we learn that she has recently been enjoying listening to funk and she talks about her father’s eclectic musical tastes and about how she used to listen to the charts on her way to church. We then move on to consider the different ways in which the charts are comprised due to streaming, how music is a key bind with her sisters and we discuss the relationship between music and identity.
Vivian explains how she ended up in academia and who her formative teachers were, and she tells us that she is more of a video game than a film person but loves ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
Vivian worked in a food bank and has done other charity work, worked on President Obama’s re-election campaign, and she tells us why she thinks politics is especially angry right now. We find out what students were protesting against back when Vivian was a student and why she had better not go to places where elections are taking place!
The conversation then turns to the influence of mix tapes and burning CDs in the pre-streaming days, and how she got into podcasts through radio.
In the final part of the interview we discuss whether Vivian’s memories are mainly positive and how we need bad things to appreciate when good things are happening, and Vivian talks about the comfort of not belonging. Vivian reflects on what her childhood version of herself would expect she would be doing now and we find out how she uses the past as a learning experience for future situations.
Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Vivian Asimos and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.