Brian Herrera, Assistant Professor of Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, has received a 2014-15 Donald D. Harrington Faculty Fellowship, a research fellowship awarded by the University of Texas at Austin.
Designed to attract outstanding faculty who are near the beginning of their professional careers, the Harrington Fellowship is awarded annually to the most highly qualified applicants from universities throughout the United States and around the world. The Harrington Faculty Fellows Program supports as many as five Fellows each academic year. Harrington Fellows visit the University of Texas at Austin for the duration of the academic year to pursue their research and collaborate with colleagues.
Herrera’s work examines the formation of gender, sexual and racial identities in and through U.S. popular performance and has been published in many journals, including Theatre Journal, Modern Drama, The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, and TDR: The Drama Review. He is particularly interested in how the labor of performers moves among industries, disciplines, and media in ways that document not only the general importance of performance within American life, but also the particular work that performers are asked to do in times of cultural, demographic, and political upheaval.
His scholarly work has also been recognized by the Ford Foundation, the Smithsonian Institute, and the John Randolph & Dora Haynes Foundation. From 2007 to 2012, Herrera taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of New Mexico, where he was recognized four times by The Project For New Mexico Graduates of Color as an Outstanding Faculty Member and, in 2010, the Weekly Alibi annual reader’s poll named Herrera Albuquerque’s “Best Post-Secondary School Professor or Instructor.” In 2012, Herrera joined the theater faculty of the Lewis Center. He holds degrees from Brown University, the University of New Mexico and Yale University, where he earned his Ph.D. in American Studies.
A performer as well as a scholar and an educator, Herrera’s autobiographical solo show entitled I Was the Voice of Democracy has been performed in more than a dozen states since 2010, as well as in Beruit and Abu-Dabhi and broadcast on public radio.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for my work through the Harrington Fellowship,” notes Herrera, “and it’s wonderful to be rewarded for that work with the time and space to jumpstart new projects.”
Herrera will be hosted at the University of Texas at Austin by the University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, where he will primarily conduct research on, and work towards the completion of, his forthcoming book, Casting: A History. Rooted in the theoretics of performance studies and the archival methods of cultural history, Casting: A History presents a narrative survey of the material practices through which actors have been assigned particular roles within U.S. entertainment industries since the late nineteenth century. This book aims to document the shifting value attached to creative, intellectual, and expressive work in the United States in the twentieth century.
In addition to his work on Casting: A History, Herrera has also been using his time in Austin to develop several additional projects. One of these is a book entitled, Starring Miss Virginia Calhoun, which tells the story of an obscure actress, writer, and producer whose unsuccessful three-decade quest to stage her opus also charts how the American entertainment industry came into being in the early twentieth century. He is also working on several essays-in-progress on the casting of Latina/o actors and the history of New Mexican theater.
Herrera also recently authored The Latina/o Theatre Commons 2013 National Convening: A Narrative Report (HowlRound, 2015), a detailed narrative account of the first national gathering of Latina/o theatremakers since the 1980s.
Recently, Herrera received the Brooks McNamara Publishing Subvention for his forthcoming book Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth Century U.S. Popular Performance (University of Michigan Press, 2015). This grant, awarded by the American Society for Theatre Research, supports the costs of securing rights to reproduce illustrations for publication, costs of acquiring illustrations, and/or the costs of reproducing illustrations in conjunction with a book under contract for publication.