student image

Photo by Daniel Cronin

Soroa Lear ’21

comparative literature - dance

Hometown: Lear

Thesis adviser: Prof. Mónica López-Lerma [Spanish]

Thesis: “Assembled and Undone: Bodies Beyond Subjection”

What it’s about: The body has the potential to experience ephemeral moments beyond our interpellated subjectivities, where through movement practices/performances we can experience ourselves through a relational opacity. This undoes our neoliberal sense of “I,” allowing us to embody hapticality and move away from codified and exclusionary markers of identity.

What it’s really about: Body! The relational body! Being undone and having a body!

In high school: I went to a public arts high school that had a big emphasis on the arts and humanities. I spent most of my time either in the dance studio or in English/history classes. Having access to such an open artistic environment at such a young age made me figure out the things I like pretty quickly.

Influential class: Decentering the Human with Prof. Christian Kroll [Spanish], who has this amazing way of combining complicated critical theory with material examples, making his classes conceptually and intellectually exciting, as well as having real-world stakes and implications. The syllabus alongside the discussion really influenced my thinking and gave me some really surprising new avenues for thinking about my interests and the world around me.

Influential book: The Undercommons by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney changed the way I write and even think about friendship.

Concept that blew my mind: In Precarious Life Judith Butler writes, “Let’s face it. We’re undone by each other. And if we’re not, we’re missing something.” Basically, the body is a web of relations, and we are always made and unmade by each other.

Ability developed at Reed: I’ve learned to trust my interests—even if I’m excited by things that seem uncommon (or even unwelcome) in an academic setting—and feel more capable of both combining interests and taking them seriously. The thesis process was a really big part of this, and getting the opportunity to research and think about anything and everything made me feel a lot more capable/excited about making connections between a variety of topics/ideas.

Challenges I faced: I’ve always felt a really big tension between my artistic and academic interests, and historically have constructed really narrow definitions of what it means to be successful in both (definitions which contradict each other). I often felt that by coming to Reed I “gave up” on my dreams of being a dancer. What I’ve realized (and this is one I’m still learning) is that two things can be true at once: I love dance and I love school, and the way I love/practice one directly influences the way that I love/practice the other. Being a dancer makes me think more creatively, and the ways I study and write directly impact the ways that I move my body and the work I create.

Help along the way: Thanks to the grants I’ve gotten from Reed, I’ve been able to spend my summers doing really cool things—dancing in Paris and Berlin!

What’s next: Read a little, hug my friends. Then I'm going to Berlin to dance some more.