Tuesday, September 13, 2016

WGS Lunch Discussion: Food, Mother, & The Woman in East Africa and Kerala, India

WGS/BU's first Lunch Discussion of 2016/2017 will feature WGS/BU Visiting Scholar, Diana Garvin, discussing her project focused on East African women’s domestic labor in Fascist-period Italy, "Black Milk: Colonial Foodways and Intimate Imperialism"; and Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellow at WGS/BU, Vrinda Varma, discussing her research on the "Construction of Women’s Identities and Food Narratives" in Kerala, India. 

The luncheon discussion, sponsored by WGS and hosted at the Center for Gender, Sexuality & Activism, will take place from noon till 1:30 on September 21st. This event is co-sponsored by GaIDI (Gender & International Development Initiatives) of the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center. Event flyer here.

About the speakers (Source: WGS/BU):

Diana Garvin has her PhD in Romance Studies from Cornell University. Her previous work examined the transnational history of Fascism across Italy and Italian East Africa (modern-day Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia) through Gender Studies and Critical Race Studies. In particular, she used food as a lens to examine the daily negotiation of power between East African women and the Italian state, demonstrating how bids for nutrition and taste speak to broader questions of gendered forms of labor, the social construction of race and racism, and what is at stake in the struggle for control over food production and consumption. 

Vrinda Varma is a Doctoral Fellow at Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kerala, India, and an Assistant Professor of English at Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur, Kerala. Vrinda is currently working on her doctoral dissertation that studies the construction of women’s identities in relation to food narratives. Her work is primarily focused in her home state of Kerala, where she examines how narratives of food (de)construct, maintain and perpetuate gendered identities for women. Her areas of interest include Food and Food Culture, Food and Gender Roles, Food History, Culinary Writing, and Magazines and Readership.


Painting by Raja Ravi Varma, "There Comes Papa" (1893)
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Now published: Carrie Preston's latest book, Learning to Kneel!

In August 2016, Columbia University Press published Learning to Kneel: Noh, Modernism, and Journeys in Teaching by Dr. Carrie Preston, Director of WGS and Co-Coordinator of our UNESCO/UNITWIN

Carrie shared with us the following glimpse of her latest work:

"Learning to Kneel traces the lessons, collaborations, and translations that introduced Japanese noh drama to the twentieth-century artistic movement called modernism. Noh captivated famous Euro-American artists, including Ezra Pound, W. B. Yeats, Bertolt Brecht, Benjamin Britten, and Samuel Beckett. They collaborated with an international cast of artists who taught them about noh, often while directing, choreographing, or performing in their productions. Preston reintroduces to modernism figures like the Tokyo-born dancer and theater artist, Ito Michio, who performed with Pound in dance-poem recitals and in Yeats’s famous noh adaptation, At the Hawk’s Well. Ito took the play on an international tour that influenced Japanese modern and traditional performance.  

Traditional Noh Performer Furukawa Mitsuru, with whom Carrie studied in Tokyo
(Photos from the personal collection of Dr. Preston)

Previous accounts of modernism and noh emphasize the errors in, for example, Pound’s noh translations or Yeats and Brecht’s exoticism and misunderstandings of the noh plays they adapted. Preston’s different approach stems from her experience taking lessons in noh performance technique with a professional actor in Tokyo. This “study abroad” encouraged her to reconsider widespread assumptions about error, misunderstanding, and success.
  



Noh pedagogy is devoted to preserving a repertory of plays transmitted for centuries from teacher to student in a hierarchical relationship – symbolized for Preston by the decorous and painful practice of kneeling before the teacher to bow, receive instruction, and practice chanting. After initially assuming noh lessons would feel humiliating, Preston found herself experiencing the value of and pleasure in submission to an authority and training regimen. Her tendency to emphasize innovation and subversion (which were of little use in noh lessons) had encouraged her to overlook the complex ranges of agency and empowerment regularly experienced by teachers and students.




Learning to Kneel is a book about journeys: noh’s journey across modernist stages and back to Japan; the international circulation of noh texts and tours of plays; the bodily techniques performers carry across national borders; the travel, even tourism, by which modernist artists encountered noh and – albeit in some limited way – its challenges to western ideas of agency; and Preston’s journey to Japan for noh lessons, where learning to kneel taught her new approaches to teaching and learning."


Below is an illustration of Preston performing a dance from the noh play Hagoromo.

video

UNESCO/UNITWIN joins in congratulating Carrie on this exciting and innovative work, notably on her book Learning to Kneel  published in 2016! See the volume website here: http://sites.bu.edu/learningtokneel/