Every semester SURCLA presents regular seminars on topics of interest to students of Spanish and Latin American Studies, as well as a series of documentary screenings. See "Latest Events" for upcoming talks and screenings.
Inaugural SURCLA guest seminar - Professor Debra Castillo, Cornell University
19 March, 2013
Performing Gender on the Stage and in the classroom
Some years ago, my students performed a play by Argentine Nora Glickman, Una tal Raquel, in a number of different locales: our home university in Ithaca, as well as in New York City, Belgium, and Mexico. We were very pleased by the enthusiastic reception in all these sites, and intrigued by the difference in the audiences. In Mexico City, for example, the play was applauded as a classic melodrama, with all of the exaggerated affect typical of that genre. In New York City, however, where the audience included a significant number of Argentine exiles, the play was received very differently. After the show, the lead actress, a Puerto Rican woman named María Burgos Ojeda, was instantly accosted by a group of Argentine women, who disconcertingly, began to share with her very intimate details of their lives, making connections to the character she played just a few moments earlier. María tried to gently remind them that she was an actor, that she had been playing a role, that it wasn’t her, that she was uncomfortable with such confidences, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. In this talk I want to explore how this particular kind of performance project can serve as a point of entry into thinking about other kinds of professorial performances and other kinds of classrooms, particularly in these days of burgeoning pressure to move our classrooms to a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) environment. Like many of us, I find myself torn: I do theater production courses, and I have also initiated international live videostreaming ones. So I have to ask myself about the efficacy, for instance, of my recent “Bodies and Borders” course for my collaborators in Kolkata and El Paso, where the issue of stubborn embodiment was central to the course, albeit filtered through wiki, twitter, and screen presences as well as professorial interlocutors in all three sites. And then I think again about the strong effect, the strong affect in my theater production courses of live performance and live audiences. How do we take account of the impact of embodied performance, the physical, three-dimensional, living, moving body, in the classroom and on the stage, speaking and moving, breathing, sweating, spitting? How does our own embodied or virtual presence in the real or videostreamed classroom shape learning experiences and teaching outcomes?
Location: Old Teachers College, Room 438
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