Dorothy Chansky — author, associate professor in the School of Theatre and Dance and director of the Humanities Center at Texas Tech University — delivered the first Fisher Center presentation of the spring semester. Her talk, “Home and the Range (of Performative Representations),” was held on Wednesday, Feb. 22 in the Fisher Center, Demarest Hall 212.
“Home” carries cultural clout as an adjective in the overused “home cooking.” Likewise, it is freighted with meaning when it is marshaled to help designate a kind of work and a stereotyped worker in “homemaking” and “homemaker.” This freight and clout are often ill-defined — even reductive — yet they travel unremarked widely in advertising, education, theatre and film as labels meant to shorthand value.
This talk considered the questions that motivated Chansky’s recent book, Kitchen Sink Realisms: Domestic Labor, Dining, and Drama in American Theatre, where the driving concern is how mainstream notions about facets of domesticity — those with the clout and freight noted above — are deployed in American plays and performance art, either with an eye to shoring up or to subverting received opinion about them. Chansky also discussed Yoko Ono’s “Kitchen Piece” (1960-61, 1966 and 1970), considering how venue and genre — like “home” and artistic disciplines, a slippery concept — inflects readings and understandings of representations of domesticity.
Chansky, who is vice president of the American Theatre and Drama Society, holds a Ph.D. in performance studies from New York University. She is the author of two books, Composing Ourselves: The Little Theatre Movement and the American Audience (Southern Illinois UP, 2004) and the Kitchen Sink Realisms: Domestic Labor, Dining, and Drama on the American State (University of Iowa P, 2015); and co-editor, with Ann Folino White of Food and Theatre on the World Stage (Routledge, 2015).
Examining the theme “No Place Like Home,” the 2016-17 Fisher Center lecture series explores the diverse productions of and investments in the concept of “home” in the context of capitalism and technology, refugee crises and ecological catastrophe, policing and colonialism.
Founded in 1998, the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men 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.