Graduate Interest Groups

Graduate Interest Groups are a way for students from different areas to collaborate. The Simpson Center for the Humanities has a listing of graduate interest groups on their web site.

Performing the Gap

“Performing the Gap: Performance as Political and Popular Transformation” is a Simpson Center-sponsored Graduate Interest Group aimed at creating a sustainable organizational structure to create and solidify the networks around the categories of performance and the performative. At the intersection of the political with the popular, “Performing the Gap” fosters a critical examination of performance as a site for conceptualizing contemporary cultural practices, modernity, citizenship, and democracy.

While the original inspiration for this project were recent uprisings on Arab streets, our interests include performances on Caribbean and Latin American streets, in North American urban slums, and in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in the U.S. Performance in this political vein also encompasses theater and performing arts that engage with various political and social realities, as well as conceptions of gender, sexuality, and race that invoke the category of performance.

For more information, see the Simpson Center website.

Upcoming Events

Writing Group Meetings

We're gearing up for this quarter's activities, which will be a series of writing workshops to help advance any writing that is related to our group's focus on performance. While we are particularly eager to foster an environment that will help dissertation writers advance their dissertations, we also welcome anyone who is working on pieces for courses, for conferences, for publications, or for other purposes.

We are modeling this quarter's writing group meetings on last Winter Quarter's meetings, because of the tremendous success of those meetings. Participants last year shared article and dissertation chapters in progress. The meeting led some members to increase their productivity and discuss the challenges of their dissertation in a safe scholarly environment. The workshop also had tangible results among the various participants: one dissertation prospectus, two dissertation chapters, and one improved paper for potential publication. One participant saw the greatest value of the writers’ circle in helping graduate students get “unstuck.”

If you are interested in joining these writing workshops, please email Raj ( to indicate, 1) your name and departmental affiliation, 2) what you're working on (diss chapter, other writing), and 3) a rough sense of when you would want to share your writing and receive feedback.

Past Events:

Job Talks

Laws of Censorship: Jerusalem's Theatrical Front in the Twentieth Century
By: Samer Al-Saber
PhD candidate in the School of Drama

Theatrical activity and live performances are often deeply affected by the laws that govern the movement of people, the freedom to assemble, and the ability of artists to publicize their events in print. Throughout the twentieth century, the changing legal status of cultural production plays a significant role in suppressing the emergence of a vibrant Palestinian theatre. From the Ottoman era until the present, a survey of theatre related laws demonstrates the progressive transformation of Palestinian theatre from an unregulated civil art form to an illegal act of resistance under military occupation. After 1967, a series of military orders suppressed the theatrical movement throughout the West Bank, but unintentionally supported the flourishing of theatre in East Jerusalem in the seventies and eighties.

Job Talks

"Listen: American Negro" Racial Performance, Dominican Street Theater, and 'Global' Blackness
By: Raj Chetty
PhD Candidate in English

Emerging from his dissertation, Chetty's talk will examine Dominican playwright Frank Disla,s 1985 carnivalesque play, Ramon Arepa, to counter the sense that Dominicans are averse to recognizing their own blackness. Chetty will analyze the play's reliance on Afro-creolized Dominican carnival traditions, in particular the Dominican specific carnival figure Calife, to draw attention to an important but woefully understudied instance of Dominican-centered Afro- and black-affirming cultural practice that does not depend exclusively on experiences with U.S. racism and anti-racist struggle. Through a reading of the play, he will argue that popular Dominican articulations of blackness contribute meaningfully to both U.S. and global discourses on blackness.

Job Talks

Remyth: Rhetorics of Race and Disidentification in Intellectual Property Law
By: Anjali Vats
Doctoral Candidate in Communication

This talk will examine how marginalized groups resist the framing of intellectual property rights violations as racialized theft. In particular, it will examine the rhetorics and performances of disidentification in three case studies, Andy Warhol's Mammy, Alice Randall's The Wind Done Gone, and India's Traditional Knowledge Digital Library.

Graduate Student Collaborators on this project:
Samer Al-Saber
Jacinthe Assaad
Raj Chetty
Amal Eqeiq