Performing arts professors celebrate an extraordinary outpouring of literary flourish. From left to right, Profs. Mark Burford, Jaclyn Pryor, Victoria Fortuna, Kate Bredeson, and David Schiff. (Prof. Morgan Luker not pictured.)

Performing arts professors celebrate an extraordinary outpouring of literary flourish. From left to right, Profs. Mark Burford, Jaclyn Pryor, Victoria Fortuna, Kate Bredeson, and David Schiff. (Prof. Morgan Luker not pictured.)

Performing Arts Profs on Paper

Six performing arts faculty publish books.

By Katie Pelletier ’03 | March 22, 2019

When they’re not teaching, designing, rehearsing, composing, choreographing, or directing, Reed’s performing arts professors are busy writing. Six books by performing arts faculty have recently hit the presses.  

From the dance department comes a look at dance during periods of political upheaval in Buenos Aires. From the music department, new books explore the art of composer Elliott Carter, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and tango music in Argentina. Meanwhile, theatre faculty are investigating the impact of theatre on civil unrest in France in 1968, and the transformative power of performance on the experiences of trauma and memory, particularly concerning queer identities. The professors gathered in January to celebrate this extraordinary outpouring of publications at a reception in the Performing Arts Library.  

Prof. Victoria Fortuna - Dance
Moving Otherwise: Dance, Violence, and Memory in Buenos Aires. (Oxford University Press, 2018)
In the period spanning the late 1960s to the present, Argentina has endured multiple coups d’état, military dictatorships, a severe economic depression, and national traumas. Prof. Victoria Fortuna [dance 2015–] examines the different ways that contemporary dance practices have responded to these climates of political and economic violence. The concept of “moving otherwise” describes how contemporary dancers and audiences addressed and re-imagined the daily choreographies their bodies were subjected to during these turbulent times. It blends archival research, choreographic analysis, interviews, and dance ethnography.

Prof. Mark Burford - Music
Mahalia Jackson and the Black Gospel Field (Oxford University Press, 2018)
Mahalia Jackson remains the most well-known figure in black gospel history, but the story of her career has been a story half told. In the first book on Jackson in 25 years, music historian Prof. Mark Burford [2007–] draws on previously unexamined archival sources. He reveals the tensions between the popularity of black gospel music and its devotional roots. Reviewing the book in Reed Magazine, Gregory Weinstein notes that “the greatest value of his book lies in his powerful advocacy for the deep study of black music at a time when black identity is under attack from within and outside the academy.” 

Prof. Morgan Luker - Music
The Tango Machine: Musical Culture in the Age of Expediency (University of Chicago Press, 2016)
Tango music is considered the national music of Argentina today, but few Argentines really listen to it. Ethnomusicologist Prof. Morgan Luker [music 2010–] reveals the paradoxical way that Argentina embraces tango as a cultural resource, even though it no longer operates as socially popular music among Argentine audiences. He shows how Argentina draws upon tango as a resource for economic, social, and cultural projects and illuminates new facets of all musical culture in an age of expediency when the value and meaning of the arts is less about the arts themselves and more about how they can be used.

Prof. David Schiff - Music
Carter (Oxford University Press, 2018)
Composer Elliott Carter won many awards, including two Pulitzers, over the course of a long, prolific career. He died in 2012 at age 103, finishing a piece just months before his death. Prof. David Schiff [music 1980–] has written the first biography of this great American classical composer with whom he studied and remained a close associate for forty years. Carter is known for his complex music, distancing himself from “schools” of post-war art, and developing a deeply personal style. Through extensive research into Carter’s personal sketches and letters, Schiff explores Carter’s oeuvre and illuminates aspects of the composer’s life about which Carter has said little. Prof. Schiff is also the author of The Music of Elliott Carter (1998) and books on Duke Ellington and George Gershwin

Prof. Kate Bredeson - Theatre
Occupying the Stage: The Theater of May ’68 (Northwestern University Press, 2018)
May 1968 was a month of revolution in France. Mass protests, nationwide strikes, and occupations of universities and factories nearly brought the national economy to a halt and it forever changed French society. A new book by theatre historian, director, and dramaturg Prof. Kate Bredeson [theatre 2009–] examines the impact on theater of this tumultuous period, and how theatre shaped this moment in history. Avant garde theatre artists used a strategy of occupying buildings, streets, language, words, traditions, and artistic processes as a tactic of protest. Prof. Bredeson shows how this left a mark on theatre as well as on contemporary artists and activists. Her second book A Lifetime of Resistance: the Diaries of Judith Malina 1947–2015, will be published by Routledge.

Prof. Jaclyn Pryor - Theatre
Time Slips: Queer Temporalities, Contemporary Performance, and the Hole of History (Northwestern University Press, 2017)
Prof. Jaclyn Pryor [theatre 2018–] investigates how performance can transform the way people perceive trauma and memory, time and history. Examining their own work and that of four other queer artists—Ann Carlson, Mary Ellen Strom, Peggy Shaw, and Lisa Kron—they show how performance can be used to make history visible, trauma recognizable, and transformation possible by exposing systems of violence that are deeply embedded in society. The title phrase, “time slips” describes moments in which past, present, and future coincide and challenge American narratives of racial and sexual citizenship.

Tags: Books, Film, Music, Performing Arts, Professors