On Tuesday, I came out of Historiography feeling reinvigorated and enthused about school in general and my project specifically. On Monday I had been working on my project and felt really down about it. I felt that I wasn’t finding original, archival material and like I was just trudging the same path as someone who had written her dissertation in 1991 on a very similar topic. But we met with our librarian (we have a librarian dedicated to film and theatre!) and she gave us tons of sources and tactics for searching for archival materials and special collections. Yay! And then I talked with my professor about it during our coffee break and she helped so much. Besides the fact that she thinks my topic is really interesting, she said if that other dissertation has never been published then I’m not trudging the same ground. She also pointed out that I’m approaching the topic from a different angle, so it doesn’t matter anyway. And class itself was really good, too. Our professor is sharp and is good at leading discussion without being intimidating or full of herself. One of the articles we read was called “The Archive and the Repertoire.” This article, actually a chapter of a book called Acts of Transfer, was super long and involved, but essentially the author made the point that Western culture always privileges knowledge from written sources (the “archive”) over any other mode of transmitting knowledge such as oral traditions, dance, etc… (the “repertoire”). We had an interesting discussion of this chapter and gave me lots of food for thought. Anyway…this is why I felt so positive when I left school on Tuesday evening. Then on Wednesday…
Globalization and Performance had a special guest coming to speak with us: an Indian freelance director, writer, theorist, dramaturg and scholar interested in interculturalism. To prepare for this class, we had five articles to read about cultural appropriation and globalization, two of them by this guest. Even though these articles were sometimes in contention with one another, they all basically said the same thing, in very broad terms: we must have dialogue. All cultures, people, interactions must consist of dialogue. This guest came to class and spoke for 1.5 hours straight—I kid you not. Where was the dialogue?? Most of what he said was interesting and insightful, so this long monologue was not the low point of our class. After he left, we discussed what he had to say and the articles we read and I left the class feeling stupid and angry. And I know I’m not stupid. Most of the class seems to have a political agenda in front of them all of the time—and they read and hear through this filter. They all started just picking apart one of the articles which is fine if they want to do that, but they got the facts of the article wrong, just plain wrong. Overall, most of the class and certainly the professor, seem to have a whole pile of bones to pick at, instead of, I don’t know, learning. Understanding. Hey, where’s that dialogue?? I can’t remember ever feeling so pissed off after a class.
Luckily, my new friend, Kate, who’s in the program with me, also felt the same way about the class. We vented to each other and felt better—at least about our own positions, if not the class. Blech on the class! [About Kate—all of you will meet her eventually—she’s definitely a keeper! Yay for new friends!]
On Thursday, the same guest in the G/P seminar came to grad forum to talk to all of the theatre PhD students. In preparation for this event our advisor told us that this guest wanted to hear about our own projects. “This is only for the advanced students, of course.” I’ve noticed that quite the distinction is made between the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year classes. While, of course, we are all in different stages of learning, I didn’t expect my own advisor to tell me to basically keep my mouth shut. I just think it’s a little odd that when it is all boiled down to its most simplest, all of this stuff we’re reading and theorizing has to do with dialoging, and not squelching the other’s (person, culture…) voice—and yet this is mostly what the doctoral program feels like so far. Except for historiography. To say it’s frustrating is an understatement; it’s disheartening. But then I remember that I’m getting paid for this, which doesn’t necessarily make me feel better, but I look at the whole experience more like a job.
In other news…there is no other news.