Saturday, April 14th, 2012
Haverford College
Presented by Margin

Schedule Speakers

Pop divas have dominated music charts, magazine covers, cultural debates, and now, they are haunting the course catalogs of universities across the United States.  But what is a diva? What are the term’s origins, if locatable, and how has the diva evolved and developed musically and culturally? How do we understand and treat our divas in popular discourse, and how does this compare to academic treatments of the figure? How do these divas seem to understand themselves and their status as both revered and dangerous figures, and (how) should these self-understandings inform our reading of their “divine” identities?  What do divas offer to the fields of literature, sociology, history, and gender and sexuality studies, and what do these academic approaches offer to our relationships with divas?  The Divas Conference offers Haverford students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to engage with the wider academic and artistic communities in an interdisciplinary exploration of divadom.


CPGC Cafe, Stokes 104

11:00 am – Opening Remarks, Hannah Silverblank ’12, Editor-in-Chief & Founder, Margin

11:15 am – “Drag Brunch” performance by the Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret

Noon – Divas & Drag Conversation with Dito Van Reigersberg (aka Martha Graham Cracker), Co-Artistic Director, Pig Iron Theater Company & Christian DuComb, Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Writing, Haverford College

12:30 pm – Break

Hurford Center Seminar Room, Stokes 102

12:45 pm – “Professor Goes Gaga: Teaching Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame” – Talk by Mathieu Deflem, Professor of Sociology, University of South Carolina

1:45 pm – Lunch Break

2:15 pm – “‘My persuasion can build a nation’: Beyoncé’s Queer Worldmaking and the Sounds of Freedom” – Talk by Kevin Allred, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Women’s & Gender Studies, Rutgers University

3:15 – Break

3:30 pm – Divas and the Dangerous Voice – Panel

“‘The song nobody knows’: Reexamining the Dangers of the Siren Song” – Hannah Silverblank  ’12, Editor-in-Chief & Founder, Margin

“Matriarchal Inheritance: The Orient and the Mourning Voice” – Gail Holst-Warhaft, Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Classics, Comparative Literature and Near Eastern Studies, Cornell University

4:30 pm -Towards a Critical Divadom: Concluding Participant Roundtable
With Camille Paglia, University Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at the University of the Arts

Organized by Hannah Silverblank ‘12, Thea Rockwell ‘12, and Alex Jacobs ‘14
Sponsored by Margin and the John B. Hurford ‘60 Center for the Arts and Humanities

haverford.edu/divas + haverford.edu/margin + haverford.edu/hcah


Kevin Allred

Kevin AllredKevin Allred is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Women’s & Gender Studies at Rutgers University.  He previously completed a Bachelor’s degree at Utah State University and a Master’s degree at UMass Boston, both in American Studies.  He has taught extensively in WGS and American Studies at Rutgers, including his own signature course: Feminist Perspectives: Politicizing Beyonce.  For his dissertation project, he is interrogating U.S. black feminism through the sonic register, reframing debates over intersectionality versus assemblage through taking careful account of the sounds black women’s voices make, both live and recorded.  He is particularly interested in the ways black female musicians – like Nina Simone, Odetta, Beyonce Knowles, Nicki Minaj, and Janelle Monae – manipulate their voices in such a way that histories are sonically recapitulated and transformed into a form of sonic warfare.  The project also engages with queer theory, affect studies, and performance studies.  He has been politically active with national and local LGBTQ organizations over the past ten years working on issues of queer youth empowerment through music, as well as nationally touring as a singer/songwriter and releasing two albums on his own independent record label, Gutter Folk Records.  Currently, he serves as the Director of Communications and Foundation Support for the National Network of Abortion Funds in Boston, MA – a non-profit organization dedicated to raising money to assist low-income women in paying for abortions they couldn’t otherwise afford, as well as agitating nationally for the removal of all public funding bans on abortion care.  In addition, he is at work on a third album of original songs.

Mathieu Deflem

Mathieu DeflemMathieu Deflem, Ph.D. University of Colorado (1996), is a Professor at the University of South Carolina. His research areas include sociology of law, terrorism, popular culture, and sociological theory. His most recent research deals with the culture of fame, the policing of terrorism, the sociology of law, international policing, and the sociological profession. He teaches courses on social control, sociology of law, fame and popular culture, terrorism, and contemporary sociological theory.

Christian DuComb (HC ’01)

Christian DuComb (HC '01)Christian DuComb (HC ’01) is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Writing at Haverford College and recently completed his Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance Studies at Brown University. His dissertation, “From the Meschianza to the Mummers Parade: Racial Impersonation in Philadelphia,” explores the construction of identity and difference through racial impersonation in Philadelphia’s theatre and performance history, with individual chapters on Revolutionary-era festivity, antebellum racial caricature, nineteenth-century blackface masking (on both stages and streets), and the twentieth- and twenty-first-century Philadelphia Mummers Parade. Christian’s research interests include theories of carnival and the public sphere, blackface minstrelsy, contemporary drama in the Americas, and South Asian theatre. His essay “Present-Day Kutiyattam: G. Venu’s Radical and Reactionary Sanskrit Theatre” won the 2006 TDR student essay contest, and his research has been supported by fellowships from American Society for Theatre Research, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, among others. Between 2003 and 2007, Christian devised and performed original theatre with Philadelphia-based Dead Genius Productions, which toured throughout the northeastern U.S. The John B. Hurford ’60 Humanities Center at Haverford presented Christian’s solo performance, “It or Her,” in 2007.

Gail Holst-Warhaft

Gail Holst-WarhaftGail Holst-Warhaft is Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Classics, Comparative Literature and Near Eastern Studies. She is also Director of the Mediterranean Studies Initiative (Spring 2004-) and Faculty Associate of the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future. Her areas of interest include Modern Greek Literature and Music, Greek Literature from Antiquity to the Present, Translation, water and culture. She is also a poet, translator, and musician. Author of The Cue for Passion: Grief and its Political Uses (Harvard UP, 2000), Dangerous Voices: Women’s Laments and Greek Literature,Theodorakis: Myth and Politics in Modern Greek Music (Hakkert 1980), Penelope’s Confession (poems, 2007). Co-editor of Losing Paradise: the Water Crisis in the Mediterranean (Ashgate, 2010) and The Classical Moment.

Alex Jacobs ’14

Alex Jacobs '14Alex Jacobs ’14 is from Philadelphia, by which he means a suburb safely nestled 10 miles from anything resembling a city. Like any good Haverford student, he loves books and music and thinks his taste in both is superior. Alex will either be a History or Comparative Literature major and would really appreciate any guidance you could provide on the matter. He has a fondness for dogs, the Clash, food, baseball, comics, and buying books that he will never read. In addition to working for Body Text/Margin, Alex is a proud member of Haverford’s Big Donkey Ultimate team, a tour guide and host in admissions, and a maintenance worker in the Haverford College Facilities department.

Larry Miller ’12

Lawrence Miller ’12 is a senior English major at Haverford College. A participant in Hannah Silverblank’s Divas Reading Group, Lawrence recently completed a senior thesis focusing on the body of the celebrity in Henry James’ The Bostonians. As part of this year’s conference, Lawrence will co-hosting a discussion with USC Professor of Sociology Mathieu Deflem about the possibilities and potentialities of diva pedagogy in today’s classroom.

Camille Paglia

Camille PagliaCamille Paglia is an author, social critic, and currently University Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  She has published many books and articles on the topics of sex, art, popular culture, feminism, and politics, including Sex, Art and American Culture, Break, Blow, Burn, Glittering Images, and the best selling Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson.  Paglia graduated valedictorian from the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences at Binghamton University, and went on to attend Yale as a graduate student.

Thea Rockwell ’12

Thea Rockwell '12Thea Rockwell ’12 is a senior History of Art major with a minor in French. She knows embarrassingly little about pop culture and likes to pretend that this is a result of growing up in Canada. Her favorite Sunday evening activity is attending Margin meetings.

Hannah Silverblank ’12

Hannah Silverblank ’12Hannah Silverblank ’12 is a senior Comparative Literature and Latin double major at Haverford. She acts as the editor-in-chief for Body Text and Margin, and she has organized and led the HCAH-sponsored Divas Reading Group. In addition to providing introductory remarks for many of the conference’s speakers and panels, Hannah will offer a presentation of her senior thesis, which investigates female singers with dangerous voices in ancient literature and in MTV- and YouTube-generation popular music. Hannah also plans to publish part of her thesis in Margin. As a member of the Haverford community and the Margin editorial board, Hannah will obviously present free of charge.

Dito van Reigersberg

Dito Van ReigersbergDito van Reigersberg (a.k.a. Martha Graham Cracker) is co-founder and co-artistic director of Pig Iron Theater Company in Philadelphia, founded in 1995.  He has performed in most of the company’s performances since its founding, which have garnered such honors as an Obie Award and many Barrymore Awards from Philadelphia’s Theatre Alliance.   Van Reigersberg has also gained acclaim for his own recurring show Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret, which was voted “Best Drag Act” by readers of the Philadelphia City Paper in 2006.  Van Reigersberg graduated from Swarthmore College.  He also trained at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *