Fantasy Feminisms: Remembering and Reimagining Feminist Pedagogies
Our roundtable, “Fantasy Feminisms: Remembering and Reimagining Feminist Pedagogies” took place at the ATHE conference in Montreal on Thursday, July 30th. We had a full-house, and scarcely enough time to entertain everyone’s enthusiastic comments and questions at the end of the session.
In response to this year’s conference theme, Je me souviens, we asked participants to remember a particular moment in a course—an assignment, a lesson plan, a discussion of a text or an in-class performance—that stands out as a success or a failure of feminist pedagogy, and to share “souvenirs” of that moment. We asked each participant to write a 200-400 word blog post, and to respond to three other posts on the blog. As part of the session, each participant had five minutes to present on her post and to share a souvenir with the audience.
Jessica offered opening remarks in which she explained that, this year, we were particularly interested in thinking about how we can foster intersectional feminisms in our classrooms and about potential productivity of failures of feminism. She pointed out that theatre classrooms present unique challenges for feminist pedagogy, but also opportunities for embodied, participatory, and collaborative explorations of feminist possibility.
Catherine introduced each of the panelists, and, after all six of the five-minute presentations, Jill Dolan offered her response. Catherine demonstrated the Fantasy Feminisms blog’s features, and moderated the lively Q and A session.
Participants’ bios are below.
Jessica Del Vecchio is a doctoral candidate at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, where she is working on a dissertation that analyzes the recent resurgence of explicitly queer and feminist performance in New York City’s experimental theatre scene. She received her MA from the Performance as a Public Practice Program at the University of Texas at Austin. She has published in Modern Drama, TDR, Theatre Journal, and she wrote the instructor’s manual for the 2012 edition of Mira Felner’s textbook THINK: Theatre. She has taught n the Theatre Departments at Drew University and Hunter College and is a Communications Fellow at the Bernanrd Schwartz Institute at Baruch College. She is a performer and founding member of Ménage à Twang, the queer musical comedy trio.
Catherine Young is a doctoral candidate in Theatre at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her dissertation examines the material conditions and symbolic meanings of animal performances in big-time US vaudeville. Young’s essay “‘A Very Good Act For an Unimportant Place’: Animals, Ambivalence, and Abuse in Big-Time Vaudeville” appears in the collection Performing Animality, edited by Jennifer Parker-Starbuck and Lourdes Orozco (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Her performance and book reviews can be found in Theatre Journal and Theatre Survey. Young teaches Introduction to Theatre Arts and Introduction to Acting at Baruch College, where she is also a Communication Fellow.
Anna Andes is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Susquehanna University where she teaches courses such as theatre history, dramatic literature and theory and criticism. Her scholarship in recent years has focused upon the works of suffrage era British and American women playwrights. Her recent publications include her articles “Burgeoning New Women of Suffrage Drama: Envisioning an Autonomous Self” recently published in Latchkey: Journal of New Woman Studies; “Sexual Desire, Responsibility and the Fallen Man: Rachel Crothers ‘ Ourselves and When Ladies Meet” published by Praxis: The Journal for Theatre, Performance Studies and Criticism; and “The Evolution of Cicely Hamilton’s Edwardian Marriage Discourse: Embracing Conversion Dramaturgy” forthcoming from English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920. She also possesses a strong background in the study of gender in ancient Greek literature and recently taught a seminar on Trojan War literature, the classroom experience that gave rise to her feminist pedagogy moment that is part of the Fantasy Feminism round table.
Jessica Silsby Brater is a Visiting Assistant Professor & Theater Program Director at the University of New Haven, where she teaches courses in theater for community impact, contemporary performance, and theater history and directs as part of the UNH season. Her current book project, Ruth Maleczech at Mabou Mines: Woman’s Work, is forthcoming from Methuen Drama in 2015. Brater’s writing appears in the current volume of Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui and she is contributing chapters to Women, Collective Creation, and Devising, edited by Kathryn Syssoyeva and Scott Proudfit and Adaptation and Devising: creative processes and contemporary performance, edited by Adam Ledger, both forthcoming from Palgrave MacMillan. Brater is founding co-artistic director of Polybe + Seats, a Brooklyn-based theater company that often works site-specifically. Her most recent work for the company, Anna Asli Suriyah (I Come from Syria), conceived with Sarah Sakaan, took on the political and humanitarian crisis in Syria and was performed tri-lingually with a multicultural cast. Brater’s newest directing project, Kohl Black and the Right Way to Pray, also by Sakaan, builds on the company’s interest in Arab-American theater and is being developed in residency at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Queens, NY. Brater holds a BA from Barnard College and a PhD from the Graduate Center, City University of New York.
Donatella Galella will join the Department of Theatre, Film, and Digital Production at the University of California, Riverside as an Assistant Professor this fall. Her articles “Redefining America, Arena Stage, and Territory Folks in a Multiracial Oklahoma!” and “Playing in the Dark/Musicalizing A Raisin in the Sun” have been published in Theatre Journal and Continuum, respectively. Her research focuses on struggles over race and capital in popular U.S. performance. She received her PhD in Theatre from The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Donatella is the Dramaturg-in-Residence of Leviathan Lab, an Asian American creative studio.
Emily Klein holds a PhD in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University (2010) and a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles (1999). Her teaching and scholarship focus on twentieth and twenty-first century American political theatre, women and gender studies, performance theory, media and film studies, and cultural studies. She also has more than ten years of experience as a writing and composition instructor. Her first book, Sex and War on the American Stage: Lysistrata in performance 1930-2012 was published by Routledge in 2014. Her articles have appeared in Frontiers, Women and Performance, and American Quarterly. She is currently developing an edited collection, Performing the Family Dream House: Space, Ritual, and Images of Home with theatre scholars Jill Stevenson and Jennifer-Scott Mobley.
Amy Sarno is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre, Dance and Media Studies, Beloit College, Beloit, WI. She has been teaching acting, media studies, and directing two productions a year since 1997. Sarno’s devising work integrates oral history, archival research, and interactive community workshops. During 2013, as a Fulbright Scholar Sarno worked with survivors of domestic violence in Florence, Italy to write a play about their experience. “Plan B” was performed both in Beloit and Italy. During the summers of 2009-2011, Sarno received writing and research fellowships for her community-based project, “Do You See What I’m Saying”. Sarno directed for New Court Theatre, a summer-stock equity theatre in Beloit from 2004-2009. She was Assistant Director of Marketing for Seattle Repertory Theatre, 1994-1997. While in Seattle, Sarno directed for the Seattle Theatre Project and the Pilgrim Center for the Arts. Sarno holds a BS degree in Psychology from St. Andrews Presbyterian College and her Ph.D. and MA degrees in Theatre from the University of Oregon. She received a Certificate in Acting from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Sarno has continued her education with Augusto Boal, founder of Forum Theatre; Michael Rohd, artistic director of Sojourn Theatre in Oregon; and received TO facilitation training from Mark Weinblatt in Washington. The last fifteen years, Sarno has been mentored by Dijana Milosevic, artistic director of Dah Teatar, a Serbian performance company that devises dance/theatre pieces to interrogate issues of global peace.
Jennifer Thompson is in the doctoral program at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her work focuses on theatre, social justice, and human rights at times of nation (re)formation. She has served as associate managing editor of the journal European Stages and teaches acting at Brooklyn College. In addition to her academic work she is a playwright and actor. Her most recent play, , was a finalist for the 2015 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and she has performed on and off Broadway, regionally, and on television. She holds an MFA in Acting from NYU and a BA from Yale University.
Jill Dolan is the Dean of the College and the Annan Professor in English and Professor of Theater at Princeton University, where she also directed the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies from 2009-15. She is the author of The Feminist Spectator as Critic (1989, reissued in a 2012 anniversary edition with a new introduction and extended bibliography); Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theatre (2005); Theatre & Sexuality (2010); and many other books and essays. In 2013, she received Distinguished Scholar Award for Outstanding Career Achievement in Scholarship in the Field of Theatre Studies from the American Society for Theatre Research. In 2011, she won the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and a lifetime achievement award from the Women and Theatre Program. Dolan is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre and of the National Theatre Conference in the US, a limited, invited membership organization. She writes The Feminist Spectator blog at http://feministspectator.princeton.edu, for which she won the 2010-2011 George Jean Nathan Award for dramatic criticism. The Feminist Spectator in Action: Feminist Criticism for Stage and Screen (2013), collects 20 blog posts,10 new essays, an extended introduction, and a “how to” discussion about writing feminist cultural criticism.