Precarious Bodies, Close Reading, and Late Night Hangouts in Wicker Park

Precarious Bodies, Close Reading, and Late Night Hangouts in Wicker Park

“The most remarkable example of such a process is found in the anal eroticism of young human beings. Their original interest in the excretory function, its organs and products, is changed in the course of their growth…” “ What is Freud saying here?” My professor asks. My class is silent. No one knows how to engage in an academic discussion about “anal eroticism” and “the excretory function.” Someone eventually raises his hand and attempts to tether Freud’s passage to the individual, civilization, the super ego, and guilt. “Well,” my professor claims, “I think Freud is talking about poop.” The class laughs. Over the summer, I approached canonical texts, like Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, through close reading. In other words, I analyzed texts on a sentence and word level, asking myself, what is the writer saying here? What are these words doing? While I learned how to close read many years ago, revisiting this method of reading reminded me how to be a careful researcher. I did not close read alone, however, I grappled with these theories in a room full of scholars of color. Through dissecting many important texts amongst a lively group of people of color, I learned a lot about research and feel extremely inspired. From June 13 through August 13, I participated in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship (MMUF) Summer Research Training Program (SRTP) at the University of Chicago with funding from MMUF and HCAH. The MMUF is a program that aims to diversify institutions of higher learning through encouraging undergraduate students of color to pursue PhDs. Forty other Mellon Fellows from around the...
Performing Death (or not)

Performing Death (or not)

  This summer I’ve gotten the opportunity to begin research for my thesis– in other words, I’ve surrounded myself with books, occasionally digging my way out of the sea of pages to watch a performance only to return again. One large body of scholarship that forms a background to my research is the debate surrounding the role of death in the archive of performances. Although this is certainly an oversimplification, the work in this area can be generally lumped into two categories: The Mortality of Performances Historically, many scholars have emphasized the ephemerality of performance. In their work can be found the idea that performance is always wrapped up in death, and that archives of performances are in a sense mortuary relics. For instance, Peggy Phelan writes that performance “offer[s] significant mediations of disappearance, trauma, and death… performance enacts the fragile and ephemeral nature of each moment and frames its passing.” André Lepecki, too, describes how in dance performances “the body constantly (re)presents itself as always being at the verge of self-dissipation (this persistence of re/presentation being so many rehearsals for absence, for death).” Performativity of the Archive/Continued Liveliness of Performance Other scholars have decided to turn their attention to the ways in which performances continue to live on beyond the moment of their first enactment. Rebecca Schneider strongly criticizes the notion that performances disappear, claiming that we only see performance as ephemeral because it resists our traditional notion of the archive. An archive which she says maintains the ocular hegemony and values bone (documents like paper that easily remain over time) over flesh (things that easily deteriorate; since...

Saturday Morning Reading

I’m drinking my morning cup of coffee before I get down to reading. I’ve been studying how the physical environment impacts deviance. Recently the research has turned to anthropology. Right now I’m reading “Pul Eliya” by Edmund Leach. It’s an almost ridiculously detailed account of a single village in 1950s Sri Lanka where limited water resources had a major impact on social...