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Diana Taylor

New York University
Political Spectatorship in the Americas
01 March 2017 - 30 June 2017
Music, musicology and performance arts

Diana Taylor is University Professor at New York University in the departments of Performance Studies and Spanish. She specializes in political performance, especially within the Americas. She is founding Director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics (Hemi) since its inception in 1998. Hemi promotes collaboration among scholars, artists, and activists for social justice . Diana Taylor has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and other academic recognitions. Currently, she is Vice President of the Modern Language Association (MLA).

Research interests

Performance; activism; feminism; theories of spectatorship; archives; embodiment; trauma and memory

Political Spectatorship in the Americas

Political Spectatorship in the Americas is a book-length analysis of how embodied, mass media, and online spectatorship functions as a political act. My premise is straightforward—practice is often ahead of theory; it performs it in advance of its formulation as theory. By exploring current political practices with a new perspective—geographic (Americas) and methodological (embodied, mass media, online)—my study focuses on the convergence of theoretical debates on vision (art/film/photography), witnessing (trauma studies), spectatorship (performance/media studies), gender and critical race theory. After providing a brief overview of the psychoanalytic, neuroscientific and philosophical aspects of vision, I concentrate on its political dimensions—the ways in which the practice of spectatorship is constituted, the overlaps between embodied and mediated seeing, how the mass media (i.e., television, film) and digital technologies complicate previous notions of “liveness,” presence, aura, charisma, identification, participation, and human agency. Spectatorship includes audiences (etymologically bound to hearing) but extends well beyond “people within hearing” to include the practices, relationships, architecture, ideologies, and economies that structure sight. Because the theoretical span is vast, each chapter centers on one specific performance event that allows me to explore relevant issues in a concrete and strategic manner.

Key publications

¡Presente! The Politics of Presence, Santiago de Chile, Ediciones Universidad Alberto Hurtado, 2016 (forthcoming).

Acciones de memoria: Performance, historia, y trauma, Lima, Fondo Editorial de la Asamblea Nacional de Rectores, 2012.

The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas. Durham, Duke University Press, 2003.

Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina's 'Dirty War', Durham, Duke University Press, 1997.

Theatre of Crisis: Drama and Politics in Latin America, Lexington, University Press of Kentucky, 1991.

Contemporary period (1789-…)
World or no region