Past Events

All Performance/Politics events are supported by the Humanities Institute at OSU.

Asian American Movements: Taiko Drumming, Performance, and Cultural Politics

Dr. Angela Ahlgren, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theater, Ohio University
Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 at 12:30
George Wells Knight House, 104 East 15th Avenue
This is a Performance/Politics event.

How does taiko performance enact Asian American Movement politics? Since the late 1960s, Asian American taiko players have harnessed the Japanese drumming style’s potential for empowerment, its expansive choreographies and thundering drums challenging post-war images of Asians as silent, passive, and weak. San Jose Taiko (SJT), formed in 1973, has emerged as one of the most prominent taiko performance ensembles in North America today. The group’s founding members were involved in Asian American Movement activities, and the Movement’s focus on structural change and social justice are reflected in SJT’s organizational style and performance choices. This talk focuses on “Ei Ja Nai Ka?” (Isn’t It Good?), a self-described “taiko folk dance” that has become a staple of their repertoire. The piece, which recalls early Issei (first-generation Japanese American) labor through dance and music, highlights a period in Asian American history often eclipsed by a narrow focus on Japanese internment. Using ethnographic interviews and participant-observation, performance analysis, and archival research, I argue that, in performing “Ei Ja Nai Ka?,” San Jose Taiko both negotiates Asian American identity and enacts Japanese American history. In doing so, I hope to show that, rather than merely reference its activist roots, San Jose Taiko continues to engage Movement politics through its practices and performances well beyond the alleged decline of the Movement itself.

Dr. Angela Ahlgren

Dr. Angela Ahlgren

Angela Ahlgren is Visiting Assistant Professor of Theater History, Criticism, and Dramaturgy in the School of Dance, Film, and Theater at Ohio University. Her book manuscript, Drumming Asian America: Taiko, Performance, and Cultural Politics, is a critical study of how taiko enacts cultural politics on and off stage in Asian American communities throughout North America. Her writing has been published in the Journal of Dramatic Theory, and will appear in the forthcoming anthology Meanings and Makings of Queer Dance (Oxford University Press). Her research interests include Asian American performance; queer and feminist performance; orientalism, whiteness and critical race theory; and the intersections of theater, dance, and musical forms. Angela has performed with the Minneapolis-based taiko group, Mu Daiko, and staged managed for the Asian American theater company, Theater Mu. She earned a Ph.D. in Performance as Public Practice from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Minnesota.

Performing the Politics of Food and Agriculture: Historic Precedents and Contemporary Theatres of Food

Dr. Ann Folino White
Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies, Michigan State University
Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 at 3:00
2038 Drake
Performance/Politics is co-sponsoring this event.

The New Deal was an era during which not only the basis of contemporary federal farm subsidies was installed as an entitlement, but also the cultural scripts used to galvanize twenty-first century food and anti-hunger activists were put forward and tested. Contradictory images of widespread hunger and agricultural plenty visually defined the 1930s economic crisis, and the New Deal administration’s plans for agriculture occupied intense national interest. The solution to this “paradox of want amid plenty”: the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) was not only front-page news, it was a flashpoint for U.S. citizens because its program to curtail food production lay at the impasse between citizens’ perceived rights to food and the economic imperative to treat food like any other commodity. Farmers, consumers, and agricultural laborers challenged the AAA’s morality by staging food’s powerful symbolic relationship to American identity in their protests. The federal government also turned to the theatre of food in its artistic representations of the AAA’s effects on American life. This talk explores the theatrical strategies used by anti-AAA activists in their protests, those employed by the federal government at the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair and in the Federal Theatre Project “living newspaper” play Triple-A Plowed Under (1936), and the recurrence of these strategies in contemporary food politics performances. Comparative analysis of these events shows just how ideologically problematic the commodification of food is for Americans. And that citizens and the government (continue to) negotiate the moral tensions between food as a biological necessity and as a vital commercial product by linking the right to food to the discourse of producerism and the performance of “good” citizenship.

Dr. Ann Folino White

Dr. Ann Folino White

Dr. Ann Folino White, Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies, is a scholar and theatre artist. She received her B.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University, M.A. in Theatre from Northwestern University, and Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Theatre and Drama along with a Gender Studies Certificate from Northwestern University. Dr. Folino White’s teaching interests include stage directing, performance theory, and American theatrical and popular performance from the late-nineteenth century to the early-twentieth century. Ann is currently at work on a book project, tentatively titled Sacred Commodities: Staging Citizenship and Competing Rights to Food during the New Deal. This study of protests, theatre, and performance explores the significance of theatrical strategies to shaping public discourse about the morality of New Deal agricultural policy. Dr. Folino White’s scholarship on American drama, protest, and performances about rights to food has appeared in American Drama, Text and Performance Quarterly, Performing Arts Resources, and TDR: The Drama Review. In 2007, Ann co-curated, directed, and performed in Ground to Plate, an innovative “dinner theatre” event in Chicago comprised of short plays, poems, and performance art concerned with ethical food production and consumption practices. Ann has also served as a dramaturg for Appletree Theatre and Writers’ Theatre in the Chicago-area, and as a new play reader for Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Most recently, Ann directed her own adaptation of the book The Lady Victory about a home for unwed mothers in 1960s Oklahoma.

Stories, Journeys, and Dance

January 31, 3-5pm
Doors Open at 2:45pm
Refreshments will be Served
Round Room, The Ohio Union
The Ohio State University

The Multicultural Center for Embodied Aesthetics (MCCA), a brand new Graduate Student Formation at the Ohio State University is organizing an evening of enigmatic performances and path breaking conversations among scholars and students around dance, the aesthetics of politics, and social justice organizing.

The event brings together performances from our graduate student repertory theater, and panel featuring Dr. Ananya Chatterjea (Professor & Chair of Dance at University of Minnesota), Dr. Ila Nagar (Assistant Professor, Near Eastern Languages at the Ohio State University), Dr. Harmony Bench (Assistant Professor, Department of Dance at the Ohio State University), Dr. Guisela Latorre(Associate Professor, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), and Dr. Manjon Vanewyk (Associate Professor and Director, Barnett Center for the Integrated Arts and Enterprise)

Our inaugural convergence focuses upon the aesthetics of social justice organizing. We shall showcase a poetry based dance piece about the Devadasi Pratha (Temple Dancer) critiquing bodily subjectivation, and proposing visions of embodied justice.

We request your company at this exciting convergence. Please arrive by 2:45pm. Evening panel and performances promptly begins at 3pm.

Co-Sponsors: Academic Initiatives at the Multicultural Center, the Department of Dance at OSU, the Diversity and Identity Studies Collective (DISCO), the Performance/Politics Working Group at the Humanities Institute.

Mobilizing Movement: Neoliberalism and the Collectivization of the Dancing Body in Post-Crisis Buenos Aires

Dr. Victoria Fortuna
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance, Oberlin College
Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 at 12:30
George Wells Knight House, 104 East 15th Avenue
This is a Performance/Politics event.

Widespread political mobilization defined by collective and embodied action responded to the insecurity and bodily precarity created by Argentina’s 2001 economic crisis. The result of neoliberal policies instituted during the repressive last military dictatorship (1976-1983) and intensified throughout the 1990s, the crisis severely exacerbated growing landscapes of inequality. This talk examines how the crisis gave rise to an unprecedented interest in the political possibilities of movement within the Buenos Aires contemporary dance community. It focuses on Lucía Russo’s 2009 The Silent Border of Things and the embodied dialogue the work established between middle class dance practitioners and female residents of the impoverished Villa 31/Barrio Güemes Retiro shantytown. The experimental stage work combined collaborative creation, structured improvisation, and a trash-strewn stage scape to reflect on the ad-hoc survival strategies of post-crisis urban life. Invited Villa 31 residents attended the premiere and met the dancers; this encounter produced a community dance project based in Villa 31. Led by cast members, the weekly sessions translated the work’s improvisation exercises from the theater to the shantytown to address the corporeal politics of scarce resources, domestic violence, racial discrimination, and reproductive health. Analyzing the stage work, considering the community dance project, and drawing on interviews with project members, I demonstrate how the The Silent Border of Things negotiated the debilitating effects of neoliberal crisis through choreographies of collectivity. This project joined a breadth of post-2001 dance initiatives that reconfigured normative relationships between bodies, urban space, capital, and artistic practice and representation.

Dr. Victoria Fortuna

Dr. Victoria Fortuna

Victoria Fortuna is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance at Oberlin College. Victoria received her PhD and MA in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and a BA in Comparative Literature from Brown University. Victoria’s interests include the history and criticism of Latin/o American concert and social dance, dance as a mode of political and community organization, and cultural histories of dance in transnational perspective. She is currently preparing a book manuscript on the relationship between Buenos Aires, Argentina based contemporary dance practices and histories of political and economic violence from the 1960s to the present. Victoria has guest lectured at the National University Institute of the Arts in Buenos Aires where she directed a dance archival project and forms part of the Institute for Research in Movement Arts. She has received grants and awards from Fulbright, the Society of Dance History Scholars, the American Society for Theatre Research, and the Latin American Studies Association. Her writings have appeared in Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, Performance Research, Theatre Journal, and e-misférica. Victoria is trained in modern and contemporary dance techniques and collaborates with several Buenos Aires based dance collectives.

No Experience Necessary: Modern Mass Spectacle and the Work of Amateur Performers

Dr. Shilarna Stokes, Assistant Professor of Theatre, The Ohio State University
Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 at 4:00
George Wells Knight House, 104 East 15th Avenue
This is a Performance/Politics event.

Drawing on mass spectacles performed in early twentieth-century Russia, England, and the United States, as well as more recent spectacles such as those performed during the opening ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games, Stokes examines why the aura of the “amateur” constitutes an essential element of mass performance. Mass spectacles rely on the performative labor of thousands of amateurs not only to achieve a sense of the monumental, but also, crucially, to produce experiences of Community, where Community is understood as an allegedly authentic expression of the latent desires of individuals to form themselves into collectives. The notion that amateurs—by virtue of their relative lack of training and experience—are capable of delivering more “natural” performances than professionals, is repeatedly invoked by the creators of mass spectacles, who themselves tend to be trained professionals. However, the amateur mystique of these colossal productions is not a form of resistance to commercialism and corporatization, but a strategy of accommodation to complex socioeconomic and political conditions.

Dr. Shilarna Stokes

Dr. Shilarna Stokes

Shilarna Stokes is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at The Ohio State University. She received her PhD in Theatre from Columbia in 2013. Her current research examines the politics of aesthetics in the performance of modern mass spectacles. Her developing book project, “Playing the Crowd: Mass Pageantry in Europe and the United States,” considers questions of public space, spectatorship, and collective performance through an analysis of large scale political pageants performed during the first half of the twentieth century. Her conference papers have won awards from the American Theatre and Drama Society and from the Association for Theater in Higher Education, and she was the recipient of a yearlong Dissertation Fellowship from the American Association of University Women. She has directed over forty plays professionally, worked as a Guest Director at Hampshire College, Fordham University, SUNY-Brockport, and Yale, and received directing fellowships from the Van Lier Foundation, Geva Theater, Williamstown Theater Festival, and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. She holds an MFA in Directing from Columbia University.

Voicing Black Religious Music

Dr. Matt Sakakeeny, Assistant Professor of Music, Tulane University
Monday, Sept. 9, 2013 at 4:30
Music and Dance Library (second floor of the 18th Ave. Library) Room 205, 175 West 18th Ave.
Performance/Politics is co-sponsoring this event with the Musicology Lecture Series in the School of Music

Religious meanings are communicated through vocal and musical performance. The case studies considered here suggest that we approach sacred music as a “polyphony of voices,” a musical continuum that extends from spoken word to instrumental sound. At a Pentecostal church in Toccopola, Mississippi, the many iterations of “voice” during worship—the melodious sermonizing, the vocalizations of the congregants, the singing of religious texts, and the instrumental “voice” of the steel guitar that is characteristic of the denomination—create a densely layered soundscape. In a New Orleans jazz funeral, the instruments of the brass band regulate the tempo and the emotional content of a burial procession, without recourse to language. The instrument is heard as a kind of voice communicating between the living and the dead.

Dr. Matt Sakakeeny

Dr. Matt Sakakeeny

Dr. Sakakeeny has lived and worked in New Orleans since 1997. His research explores the intersection of music with race, economics, and politics, particularly in the performance of African American music. His forthcoming book, Instruments of Power: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans, considers the brass band as a powerful symbol of local black culture. Matt has published in journals such as Ethnomusicology, Black Music Research Journal, Contemporary Political Theory, and Current Musicology, and filed reports for public radio’s All Things Considered, Marketplace, and WWOZ’s Street Talk. His research has been supported by the Louisiana ATLAS program, the National Science Foundation, and the Whiting Foundation. Dr. Sakakeeny first moved to New Orleans as the co-producer of the public radio program American Routes and he continues to serve as Senior Contributing Producer.

“Sound Demos and the Politics of Protest in Post-3.11 Japan”

Dr. David Novak, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of California Santa Barbara
Monday, April 8, 2013 at 4:30
Science and Engineering Library, Rm 205
Performance/Politics is co-sponsoring this event with the Musicology Lecture Series in the School of Music

The summer of 2012 saw an explosion of public protest in Japan, specifically aimed at the restart of nuclear reactors that been shut down following the tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi. Each Friday in Tokyo, a growing crowd gathered in front of Prime Minister Noda’s offices, beating drums, chanting antinuclear slogans, and citizens eventually surrounded the Diet Building with a human chain estimated at over 100,000 people. Noda initially dismissed the protests as “just noise.” But as the sound of protest grew louder, the government has been forced to “listen carefully” to the “unvoiced voices” of public dissent: in September 2012, the Japanese energy commission announced a radical shift in energy policy to phase out nuclear power by the 2030s. Although this wave of public resistance may seem unprecedented — and, like the Occupy movement in 2011, to have arisen from nowhere — the 2012 antinuclear actions had roots in longterm social resistance projects. In particular, “reclaim-the-streets” tactics of noise-making such as drumming groups and “sound demo” trucks had been part of Japanese actions against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the G8 meetings in 2008. In this talk, I contextualize the role of sound in political resistance in Japan by connecting antinuclear protests to the resistance movements in Kamagasaki, a day-laborer’s quarter of south Osaka known for its 25-year history of riots and conflicts over public space. As urban policies targeted homeless and migrant workers, the sounds of public life and musicmaking were turned into noise, and folded into a logic of “disturbance” that led to large scale evictions. But residents and social activists brought a new layer of noise back into the streets to defend local communities, and give voice to the disenfranchised citizens of a technocultural state.

Dr. David Novak

David Novak is an assistant professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Santa Barbara, California. His work deals with the globalization of popular music, media technologies, experimental culture, and social practices of listening. He is the author of recent essays in Public Culture, Cultural Anthropology, and Popular Music, as well as the forthcoming book Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation (Duke University Press, 2013), which traces the transnational development of the underground genre Noise in Japan and North America. His recent research focuses on the politics of sound in urban Japan, particularly the impact of noise regulations on public protest, both in antinuclear protest and in homeless and migrant labor communities in South Osaka.

The Graduate Theatre Syndicate at The Ohio State University presents its fifth annual symposium:

“Shifting Boundaries/Crossing Cultures: the Politics, Process, and Performance of Collaboration”

April 5th and 6th, 2013
Drake Performance and Events Center
Columbus, OH

Collaboration between disciplines and across borders presents a unique set of challenges even as it becomes ubiquitous in artistic and professional pursuits. Collaborative work also offers an opportunity to examine the ways in which politics implicitly and explicitly inform our practices. In addition to conference-style papers, the conference will feature workshops, performances, and other non-traditional methods of engaging in dialogues which address the personal/political/ cultural negotiations inherent in any collaboration, creative or otherwise. The Symposium will be concurrent with the university’s production of aPOEtheosis, a devised piece of theatre created by U.S. director Joe Brandesky, and Czech theatre artist Petr Matásek.

Keynote Speaker:
Stephen Wangh studied with Jerzy Grotowski in 1967 and is the author of An Acrobat of the Heart and The Heart of Teaching. His playwriting credits include work as an Associate Writer for The Laramie Project, The People’s Temple, which won the Glickman Award for Best Play in the Bay Area, 2005, and many other collaborative works. Stephen has taught physical acting technique in the United States and Europe.

Special Guest:
Petr Matásek is a Czech artist, set designer, director, and associate professor at the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre at DAMU, in Prague.

The Symposium is sponsored by The Graduate Theatre Syndicate, The Department of Theatre, and The Performance/Politics Humanities Institute Working Group, Co-Conveners Harmony Bench (Dance), Ryan Skinner (Ethnomusicology), and Jennifer Schlueter (Theatre).

All events will take place at the Drake Performance and Events Center. All Symposium activities are free and open to the public. Registration required.

Please go to the symposium website for information and updates:

“Dancing with the Cowboy: Queering Masculinity in the Reagan-Bush Era”

Prof. Peter Carpenter, Associate Professor of Dance, Columbia College Chicago
Monday, March 25, 2013 at 12:30
George Wells Knight House, 104 East 15th Avenue
This event is co-sponsored with the Department of Dance

Gay country-western dancing emerged as an identifiable social dance practice in the early 1980s in the U.S., unsettling stereotypical conflations of male effeminacy with gay desire and putting queer masculinity in motion. At the same historical moment, the U.S. elected Ronald Reagan to the presidency on an anti-queer, cowboy political platform. How do these discourses concerning masculinity, the body and Americanness connect? In this presentation, choreographer Peter Carpenter will discuss the critical relationship between queer, choreographic depictions of cowboyness in the context of the social conservatism of the Reagan-Bush era. Introducing a project that brings together analysis of ethnographic fieldwork, close readings of experimental concert dance, and examinations of relevant popular culture references, Carpenter will articulate his scholarship as a critical choreographic methodology connecting artistic and theoretical practices.

Peter Carpenter, Photo by William Frederking

Peter Carpenter, Photo by William Frederking

Peter Carpenter has dedicated the majority of his career to excavating relationships between dance and social justice. His independent work has resulted in numerous repertory pieces and six evening-length works including Bareback Into the Sunset (2003), The Sky Hangs Down Too Close (2008) and My Fellow Americans (2009). Carpenter’s interdisciplinary approach to making dances frequently involves contemporaneous scholarship—drawing primarily from queer theory and dance studies—as an integral component of his choreographic methodology.

His latest choreographic project—a cycle of dances under the umbrella title Rituals of Abundance for Lean Times—is concerned with socially constructed myths of scarcity in relationship to his own processes as a dancemaker. This emerging body of work aligns itself around a curiosity concerning relationships between representational strategies and performance frame—recognizing the potent and complex entanglements between concert dances and discourses of the civic.

“Too Sexy for Export?” Martha Graham and the US Department of State

Dr. Clare Croft, Assistant Professor of Dance, University of Michigan
Monday, March 18, 2013 at 12:30
George Wells Knight House, 104 East 15th Avenue
This is a Performance/Politics event.

In 1963, modern dance became a hot topic in Congressional debate. At the center of the debate was American modern dance matriarch Martha Graham’s provocative dance piece, Phaedra (1962). Based on the Greek myth that tracks a woman’s (Phaedra’s) sexual entanglement with her stepson, the Graham work grapples with the staging of female sexual desire and, to the dismay of Congress people, does so in a setting populated with barely clad male dancers and onstage choreographed depictions of sexual encounters. My presentation charts the Congressional controversy that ensued after the Graham company performed Phaedra on a tour sponsored by the US State Department. I argue, through close readings of Congressional hearings, popular press accounts, and choreographic material, that the debate centered on a negotiation of Cold War gender norms— Cold War gender norms that Graham, onstage and as a public persona, skillfully transgressed by enacting what cultural theorist Lauren Berlant terms “diva citizenship.” Specifically I consider if white privilege might have buoyed Graham’s diva status, allowing her to remain the sole female choreographer frequently funded by the State Department during the Cold War.

Dr. Clare Croft

Dr. Clare Croft

Clare Croft is a scholar in the fields of dance studies and performance studies with interests in the intersections of dance and cultural policy, 20th and 21st century American performance, feminist and queer theory, dramaturgy and critical race theory. She is currently at work on a book project titled Funding Footprints: US State Department Sponsorship of International Dance Tours. Her writing has been published in the academic journals Theatre Topics and Theatre Journal and in newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post, The Austin American-Statesman, The Baltimore Sun, and Dance Magazine, among others. In 2010, Croft’s article, “Ballet Nations: The New York City Ballet’s 1962 US State Department-Sponsored Tour of the Soviet Union,” received the American Society of Theatre Research’s Biennial Sally Banes Publication Prize, which recognizes the publication that best explores the intersections of theatre and dance/movement. Croft received her Ph.D. in Performance as Public Practice from the University of Texas-Austin and an M.A. in Performance Studies from NYU. Croft is a former employee of the dance and media programs at the National Endowment for the Arts. She is also an active dramaturg and has recently collaborated on creative projects with choreographers Rachel Murray and Andee Scott.

“‘The Highest Peaceful Arts’: Classical Music and the Mediation of Prestige in U.S. Cultural Diplomacy, 1954-1970”

Dr. Danielle Fosler-Lussier, Associate Professor of Music at The Ohio State University
Monday, February 25, 2013 at 4:30
Science and Engineering Library, Rm 205
Performance/Politics is co-sponsoring this event with the Musicology Lecture Series in the School of Music

Between the 1950s and the 1970s, more than one thousand professional and amateur musicians from the United States traveled the world to perform under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of State. From the early days of the Cultural Presentations program, many of the musicians who were sent abroad played classical music—an American offshoot of a European tradition. State Department strategists noted that audiences for classical music in many parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America were small; yet they continued to send this music because of its social prestige.

Using documents from government archives, I describe the symbolic and practical value that audiences around the world assigned to the various kinds of classical music they were offered. In cases where classical music did not initially succeed, I evaluate the ways in which State Department planners modified their strategies to make the music more palatable. Last, I examine the interplay among officials, musicians, and audiences as a revealing instance of soft power that relied not only on the intrinsic appeal of the music but also on the creation and strengthening of social norms.

Dr. Danielle Fosler-Lussier

Dr. Danielle Fosler-Lussier

Danielle Fosler-Lussier has taught at The Ohio State University School of Music since 2003. Educated at the University of Pennsylvania (B.A.), the University of Hamburg (DAAD scholar), and the University of California, Berkeley (M.A., Ph.D.), she spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University’s Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts before coming to Ohio. Her research on music and cold war politics in Eastern and Western Europe and the United States has been supported by an AMS-50 dissertation fellowship as well as fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the International Research and Exchanges Board, and the Eisenhower Foundation. Fosler-Lussier is the author of a book entitled Music Divided: Bartók’s Legacy in Cold War Culture (University of California Press, 2007).

Her current project, supported in 2011-12 by a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, describes U.S. government sponsorship for musical performances abroad during the cold war. Her recent publications on this topic are “Cultural Diplomacy as Cultural Globalization: The University of Michigan Jazz Band in Latin America,” Journal of the Society for American Music 4, no. 1 (February 2010): 59-93; and “American Cultural Diplomacy and the Mediation of Avant-garde Music,” Robert Adlington, ed., Sound Commitments: Avant-garde Music and the Sixties (Oxford University Press, 2009), 232-253.

Her teaching and research interests include music as a site of international contact and exchange; twentieth-century music, and the music of Joseph Haydn.


Celebrated solo performer, writer and gay rights advocate, Tim Miller, will talk about his performance career and perform short extracts from his two decades long career. Miller was one of the “NEA Four” (with Karen Finley, John Fleck and Holly Hughes) who in 1990 were denied their grants from the NEA after a congressional hearing.

Tim Miller is an internationally acclaimed performance artist. Miller’s creative work as a performer and writer explores the artistic, spiritual and political topography of his identity as a gay man. Hailed for his humor and passion, Miller has tackled this challenge in such pieces as POSTWAR (1982), COST OF LIVING (1983), DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA (1984), BUDDY SYSTEMS (1985), SOME GOLDEN STATES (1987), STRETCH MARKS (1989), SEX/LOVE/STORIES (1991), MY QUEER BODY (1992), NAKED BREATH (1994), FRUIT COCKTAIL (1996), SHIRTS & SKIN (1997) GLORY BOX (1999), US (2003) and 1001 BEDS (2006). Miller’s performances have been presented all over North America, Australia, and Europe in such prestigious venues as Yale Repertory Theatre, the Institute of Contemporary Art (London), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He is the author of the books SHIRTS & SKIN, BODY BLOWS and 1001 BEDS, which won the 2007 Lambda Literary Award for best book in Drama-Theatre. His solo theater works have been published in the play collections O Solo Homo and Sharing the Delirium. Miller’s newest book 1001 BEDS, an anthology of his performances, essays and journals, was published by University of Wisconsin Press in 2006. Miller has taught performance at UCLA, NYU, the School of Theology at Claremont and at universities all over the US. He is a co-founder of two of the most influential performance spaces in the United States: Performance Space 122 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, CA.

See Tim Miller’s website:

Discussion: The Builders Association, SONTAG: REBORN

We have two great opportunities to meet and talk about The Builders Association’s production of SONTAG: REBORN. SONTAG: REBORN runs from November 15-18 at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

The Wexner Center is welcoming us to attend the talk back with the artists on Friday, November 16, 2013 at 2:30 at the Wexner Center Film Video theatre (please meet in the lobby beforehand). It is strongly suggested that you attend the performance Thursday evening if you would like to participate in this conversation.

The Performance/Politics Working Group is also hosting a discussion of the work, led by Dr. Jennifer Schlueter (Assistant Professor, Theatre) and Francesca Spedalieri (PhD Candidate, Theatre), on Monday November 19 at 6:00-7:00 PM at the George Wells Knight House, 104 East 15th Avenue. This will be a brown bag event, with drinks provided.

To prepare, Dr. Schlueter has provided some links to information about The Builders Association and the challenges presented by their working method. Have a look at the following resources and join us!

Sontag Reborn, The Builder's Association

Sontag Reborn, The Builder’s Association

The Builders Association website gives a strong overview to their work.

The New York Times review of SONTAG: REBORN is also available: “Life, Mediated in a Journal, by a Writer Busy Being Born.”

The following articles provide interview- and experience-based insights into The Builders Association:

Neri, Louise. “The Builders Association.” Interview Magazine. 27 November 2008. (Note: you’ll need to log in with your OSU credentials)

Schechner, Richard. “Building the Builders Association.” TDR: The Drama Review. 56:3 (Fall 2012). (Note: you’ll need to log in with your OSU credentials)

Spedalieri, Francesca. “American (Hi)Story Re-presented and Revised: The Builders Association and the Making of HOUSE/DIVIDED.” TheatreForum (Summer-Fall 2012): 3-11. (Note: you’ll need to log in with your OSU credentials)

The following essays provide a bit of information on Sontag and on Reborn, the volume of her letters and journals which covers 1947-1963, and which Moe Angelos and The Builders Association drew from to construct this play:

From the New Yorker: “Can We Ever Know Sontag?”
From the New York Times: “Young Sontag: Intellectual in Training.”
From Slate: “Under the Sign of Sontag”

Discussion: Tinariwen

The Performance/Politics Working Group is hosting a discussion of the Tuareg band Tinariwen, performing Wed. Oct. 24th at the Wexner Center. See the show and come join us for a conversation, led by Dr. Ryan Skinner, on Thurs. Oct. 25th at 4:00 PM at the George Wells Knight House, 104 East 15th Avenue.

To prepare, Dr. Skinner has provided some links to information about the group, the context in which their music appears in the global music scene, and the politics embedded in their work. Have a look at the following resources and join us!

Tinariwen image

Tinariwen, image (c) Marie Planeille

A recent overview and review of their 2011 release “Tassili:”

A documentary on the band, their music, and their politics produced by Al Jazeera’s (English language) “Music of Resistance” series, in two parts:
Part 1
Part 2

And, here are some good (and short) readings to contextualize the contested politics of their work:

“Rebel Music: The Tuareg Uprising in 12 Songs by Tinariwen”
“The Racial Politics of Tuareg Nationalism”
“A Response for the Sake of Clarity on Mali & Tinariwen”
“Tinariwen’s Abdallah Ag Alhousseini Talks about Mali”
“Mali: No Rhythm or Reason as Militants Declare War on Music”

Finally, two scholarly articles on the music and its socio-political/historical context. Please note: you will need to log in through the library to access the full articles. The links below will take you to the article abstracts.
“Moving beyond Protest in Tuareg Ichumar Musical Performance”
“Unemployed Intellectuals in the Sahara: The Teshumara Nationalist Movement and the Revolutions in Tuareg Society”

“Unchecked Popularity: Neoliberal Circulations of Black Social Dance”

Dr. Thomas F. DeFrantz, Professor of Dance and African American Studies, Duke University
Monday, October 22, 2012 at 12:30
George Wells Knight House, 104 East 15th Avenue
Performance/Politics is co-sponsoring this event with the Department of Dance

African American social dances are complex performances that tie social agency, communal exchange, individual creativity, and personal expression to practices that demonstrate vectors of gender, sexuality, ability, location, class, age, and place. This talk offers a critique of the expansive category of popular culture built around circulations of black social dance; circulations that allow dance structures to proliferate without reference to the particular historical circumstances or connection to people who produce the dances. Global markets allow these social dances to be appropriated and repurposed as intellectual property to generate profit; in millennial terms, black social dance becomes a way to understand presence within global economies. To underscore the neoliberal logic that feeds these contemporary circulations, I will look back to American popular culture of the 1960s and 1970s evidenced by the widely distributed television programs American Bandstand and Soul Train, as well as the ideologies of dance that circulated at Motown records in this same period. I offer an exceptionalist counter-example in a consideration of funk dance and music practices as exemplary of creative black social spaces that resist commodity co-option but may still be ripe for latter-day neoliberal exploitation. I argue that neoliberal discourses of freedom encourage the spread of black social dance beyond historical markers of located communal resistance to market forces, and relocate capacities of communal pleasure to a dispersed global populace of consumers.

Dr. Thomas F. DeFrantz

Dr. Thomas F. DeFrantz

Thomas F. DeFrantz is Professor of Dance and African American Studies at Duke University. He is the director of SLIPPAGE: Performance, Culture, Technology, a research group that explores emerging technology in live performance applications, in residence at Duke University. His books include the edited volume Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance (University of Wisconsin Press, 2002, winner of the CHOICE Award for Outstanding Academic Publication and the Errol Hill Award presented by the American Society for Theater Research) and Dancing Revelations Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture (Oxford University Press, 2004, winner of the de la Torre Bueno Prize for Outstanding Publication in Dance). A director and writer, his creative works include Queer Theory! An Academic Travesty commissioned by the Theater Offensive of Boston and the Flynn Center for the Arts. In 2005 he worked with DonnaFaye Burchfield to design the American Dance Festival/Hollins University MFA Program in dance. He has worked as a dramaturg for Donald Byrd, and assistant to Louis Johnson and Honi Coles. He performed the “Morton Gould Tap Concerto” with the Boston Pops conducted by Keith Lockhart and the “Duke Ellington Tap Concerto (David Danced)” with the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra conducted by Mark Harvey. DeFrantz served on the boards for the Society of Dance History Scholars, as Book Editor for the Dance Critics Association, and organized the dance history program at the Alvin Ailey School in New York for many years. A globally-circulating academic and artist, he has taught at NYU, Stanford, Hampshire College, MIT, and Yale; has presented his research by invitation in Australia, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, and Sweden; and performed in Botswana, France, India, Ireland, and South Africa. He co-convenes the working group Black Performance Theory as well as the international group Choreography and Corporeality, and recently convened an event “Dance Technology and the Circulation of the Social v. 2.0” at MIT with Harmony Bench. He is currently President of the Society of Dance History Scholars. Professor DeFrantz is always interested in stories, how we tell them, and what we think they might mean.


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