Pre-doctoral Fellow Explores the Common – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Pre-doctoral Fellow Explores the Common

This academic year, the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men welcomed Alex Pittman, the 2012-2013 Fisher Center faculty research pre-doctoral fellow. Pittman’s research has focused on the research theme of Gender, Collectivity, and the Common.

Pittman’s project, “Dispossessive Acts: Space, The Body, and Other Properties,” moves across a range of aesthetic objects, all of which rotate around and mediate crises of gendered and sexual divisions of labor, in order to chart intersections between critiques of capitalism and critiques of subjectivity.

In particular, his research traces how dispossession — a term that signals in a contradictory form both the enclosures and the possibilities of political mobilization on the commons — functions as a trope within U.S. culture.

“How might attention to performances of dispossession at once disturb easy claims of access to the commons, at the same time that they chart resistant collective practices of the body inside gendered and sexual divisions of labor?” asks Pittman.

During the fall semester, Pittman taught “Senses of the Commons,” a course that introduced students to a range of theories, practice, and aesthetics of social cooperation, with a particular focus on the contributions of feminist, queer, and anti-racist scholarship to this field.

Next semester Pittman will instruct “Art Work: Gender, Performance and Capitalism,” a 300-level Fisher Center course that is currently cross-listed in a number of different departments, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies.

In early April, Pittman will host a live Q&A and artist talk with the dancer Biba Bell and in mid-April, he’ll present his research on the Fisher Center themes of gender, collectivity and the commons.

Prior to his arrival at HWS, Pittman was working toward his Ph.D.  in performance studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, the first program in the world to focus on performance as the object of analysis. Since 2008, he has been a member of the editorial collective of Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory. His article, “Dis-Assembly Lines: Gestures, Situations, Surveillances,” will be published in a special issue of the scholarly journal in August 2013.

Pittman received a bachelor’s degree in English, linguistics, and speech from the University of Mary Washington and a master’s in performance studies from New York University.

The Fisher Center brings together faculty, students, and experts in gender-related fields in the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences to foster mutual understanding and social justice in contemporary society.