“Racial Icons.” Upper-level undergraduate seminar.
An “icon” evokes quasi-religious feelings. Not merely passing celebrity figures, but symbolic lightning rods for public adoration, emulation, identification, disidentification and disdain, celebrity icons are enduring objects of cultural “veneration” and “denigration” (Fleetwood 2015). This is doubly-true for the racial icon, whose iconicity is multiplied by the iconic status of race itself.
This course takes the racial icon as its primary figure of investigation. In so doing, it argues that celebrity is always already raced and gendered, so much as race and gender cohere with ideas about publicity, privacy, and the self-possessed vs. commoditized self. Drawing on scholarship across celebrity studies, audience studies, critical race theory, gender studies, visual cultural studies, and performance studies, we will investigate the racial icon as both object and subject of cultural representation and debate. Figures and topics to be discussed include the diva, the dandy, the ingenue, the Blues Woman, the Race Man, tropical women, mascots and racial kitsch, and glamour. Individual celebrities to be discussed through both scholarly, archival, and creative texts might include Saartjie Baartman, Afong Moy, Pauline Johnson, Josephine Baker, Carmen Miranda, Paul Robeson, Bruce Lee, Selena Quintanilla, and Grace Jones.
“Decolonizing Media Studies.” Upper-level undergraduate lecture.
What does it mean to “decolonize” media studies? Conversely, what is colonial about media studies? This course takes its name and inspiration from the Summer 2018 “In Focus” dossier section of Cinema Journal (now Journal of Cinema and Media Studies), edited by members of the Decolonize Media Collective, Nicholas Mirzoeff and Jack Halberstam. Taking a historiographic approach, this course will investigate media and mediation as forms of power/knowledge that have constructed landscapes, territories, people groups, criminals, “moderns” and “primitives.” We will read historical accounts of “picturing,” from land surveys, to casta portraiture, to museums and World Fairs, to early anthropological photography and film. We will examine the role of sound recordings in producing salvage ethnographies of “vanishing” cultures, civilizations, and primitivized “folks.” We will discuss the long durée of surveillance technologies, from the slave ship, to the passport photograph, to the mug shot. And we will approach race “as” media, and privacy/publicity as raced, gendered, and sexualized.
Throughout, we will also examine counter-histories and performances of anti- and de-colonial resistance, often hidden in plain sight. Under this rubric, visual sovereignties, hidden transcripts of resistance, new technologies of the body, and relations across land/human/species divides will emerge. The final assignment will be a praxis-based class “action” that will materialize and manifest decolonial activism in the present.
Note: this class takes a purposefully broad, historicized, and geographically-diffuse view of colonization/decolonization, drawing on the sometimes divergent anti-colonial and decolonial political projects and epistemological traditions of, for example, Black Studies, Indigenous Studies, Subaltern Studies, Third World Liberation, and postcolonial/anti-colonial theory and social movements.
“Introduction to Performance Studies.” Introductory undergraduate course with performance workshop component.
“Asian American Theatre and Performance in Transnational Contexts.” Introductory undergraduate course.
“Performance Art: Theory, History, Criticism, Practice.” Mid-upper level undergraduate course with performance workshop component.
“Performance and Identity.” Mid-upper level undergraduate course.
“Performance Theory in/as Critical Race Theory.” Upper-level undergraduate seminar.
“Performance Historiography and the Colonial Archive.” Graduate-level seminar.
“Femmes, Divas, Queens, and Queers: Performance Theory’s Bad Objects.” Graduate-level seminar.