The Humanities Council at Princeton University has named Judith Hamera, Professor of Dance in the Lewis Center for the Arts and Program in American Studies, as an Old Dominion Professor for the academic year 2021-2022. Hamera joins Professor of Comparative Literature and African American Studies Wendy L. Belcher in the professorship, which provides chosen faculty members with additional research time with the goal of enhancing the humanities community more broadly across the University.
Old Dominion Professors are appointed for a term of one year, during which they are expected to be in residence engaging in the intellectual life of the Humanities Council and the University. Additionally during their term, Old Dominion Professors are invited to share their research through a series of conversations and lectures.
During the academic year 2021-22, Hamera will work on the project “Los Angeles Live Art and Critical Pluralist Imaginaries, 1989 – 2000.” Her project examines the ways interrelationships between experimental live art; critical theories of aesthetics, gender, sexuality, race, and identity from the humanities and humanistic social sciences; and the alternative arts press shaped public responses to crises of civic pluralism in Los Angeles between 1989 and 2000. In this period, Los Angeles faced the AIDS pandemic; an uprising in response to the acquittal of white LAPD officers accused of beating Black motorist Rodney King; rising income inequality, homelessness, and anti-immigrant sentiments; and culture wars, even as it rebranded itself “multicultural.” Performance artists responded by creating new and often radical pluralist projects using contemporary theory as critical infrastructure: moving it from the seminar room and the page to the stage and, in the process, enabling its increased circulation. The project posits Highways Performance Space, a nationally recognized experimental arts venue, as the local epicenter of theoretically-informed artmaking. It also argues for the centrality of High Performance Magazine, which shared a complex with Highways and hosted events at the venue, as a conduit for theory in experimental performance circles and a consolidator of a discursive community linking artists, critics, scholars, and audiences.
Judith Hamera is the author of three books: the award-winning Dancing Communities: Performance, Difference, and Connection in the Global City (2007; 2011), Parlor Ponds: The Cultural Work of the American Home Aquarium, 1850 – 1970 (2012), and Unfinished Business: Michael Jackson, Detroit, and the Figural Economy of American Deindustrialization (2017) which received the Oscar G. Brockett Award for Dance Research from the Dance Studies Association, the Biennial Sally Banes Publication Prize from the American Society for Theatre Research, and the Book of the Year award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. She is the editor of Opening Acts: Performance in/as Communication and Cultural Studies (2006), and co-editor of the Cambridge Companion to American Travel Writing (2009) and the Sage Handbook of Performance Studies (2006). Her article, “Rehearsal Problems: Gus Giordano’s The Rehearsal and the Serious Business of Middlebrow Dance,” received the Gertrude Lippincott Award for Best English Language Dance Studies Article from the Dance Studies Association in 2020.
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