Brian Eugenio Herrera is, by turns, a writer, teacher and scholar — presently based in New Jersey, but forever rooted in New Mexico.
Brian's work, both academic and creative, examines the history of gender, sexuality, and race within and through U.S. popular performance. Brian holds degrees from Brown University, the University of New Mexico and Yale University, where he earned his PhD in American Studies. Brian's scholarly work has been awarded fellowship recognition from the Ford Foundation, the Smithsonian Institute, and the John Randolph & Dora Haynes Foundation. He is the author of The Latina/o Theatre Commons 2013 National Convening: A Narrative Report and has been published in many scholarly journals including Modern Drama, Theatre Journal, Ecumenica, Comparative Drama and The Gay and Lesbian Review; he also served as Guest Editor for a special section of The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. Brian recently completed terms of service on the Executive Committee for the American Society for Theatre Research and on the Steering Committee for the American Theatre Archive Project. He currently serves as Chair of the Executive Committee for Modern Language Association's Drama Division and as member of the Advisory Committee for the Latino/a Theatre Commons.
Brian's autobiographical solo show I Was the Voice of Democracy premiered in 2010 in Albuquerque and has subsequently been seen in Taos, Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, Lawrence (KS), New York City, Chapel Hill, Ithaca, Tempe, Princeton, Beirut, and Abu Dhabi. In 2013, he launched two new storywork shows, Boy Like That and Touch Tones.
From 2007 to 2012, Brian taught undergraduate and graduate courses in World Theatre History and Performance Theory in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of New Mexico (UNM). At UNM, 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 Brian Albuquerque's "Best Post-Secondary School Professor or Instructor." In 2014, Brian was named a Donald P. Harrington Faculty Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin.
Brian's first book, Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance (University of Michigan Press, 2015) was recognized with the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. He is presently at work on two new book projects: Starring Miss Virginia Calhoun, a narrative portrait of a deservedly obscure early 20th century actress/writer/producer, and Casting — A History, a historical study of the material practices of casting in US popular performance.
Spinal Tap 2016
Princeton professors unpack their summer reading lists
What are we looking at?
This image captures the jumble that is the “American theater/performance history” section of my office bookshelf. I aspire to chronological arrangement, but these books move to and from the shelf so often they defy my organizational efforts. I do love that Nicolás Kanellos’ A History of Hispanic American Theatre in the United States, Origins to 1940 is sneaking into the lower right corner of this image. In many ways, that book is a cornerstone to my own work in the field of Latina/o/x performance history. So it’s no surprise that the photographer captured it moving to (or from) its place on the shelf.
And that framed number seven? There’s no organizational or literary significance. It’s simply the seventh of eight table markers — originally created for use at my wedding reception — which I kept and which now dot my office bookshelves. I keep threatening to use them in a class, perhaps to mark different stations around the room or something, but that hasn’t happened … yet. Mostly, I just like them.
What’s on your summer reading list?
For my summer reading, I’ve accumulated quite a pile of notable but nonscholarly works of theater and film history that I’m raring to dive into. Recent books like Michael Riedel’s Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway and Jean Stein’s West of Eden, as well as older gems like Valeria Beletti’s Adventures of a Hollywood Secretary: Her Private Letters from Inside the Studios of the 1920s. The titles are directly related to my current book projects, but they also promise to be a hoot. Last summer, I loved watching all nine seasons of Perry Mason (1957-1966), mostly because it featured so many of Hollywood’s most valuable supporting players; this year I’m thinking I might take on Naked City (1958-1963), which guest stars many of the era’s great New York stage actors. I’m also thrilled to encounter the worlds conjured by playwright Carlos Murillo’s brand new genre-confounding meta-theatrical opus, The Javier Plays.
This content is courtesy of Michael Hotchkiss and Jamie Saxon, Princeton University Office of Communications.
“What Makes a Latino Play?” | Bathing in Moonlight — McCarter Theatre Center
“Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance” | Open Books Series — Theatre for a New Audience, 3/13/17
Trustees Approve 20 Faculty Promotions | Princeton.edu
“Herrera celebrates legacy of playwright María Irene Fornés” | www.princeton.edu, Nov. 1, 2018
Life of the Mind — “Setting the Scene: The History Behind American Performance” | Princeton Alumni Weekly
Author Talks: “Hamilton and Philadelphia: Historical Adaptation in Theater” — April 3, 2019, 6 PM, Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia, PA