This blog won’t “review” the arts and culture in a conventional sense, but use them instead as springboards for think pieces. My aim is not to participate in the slash-and-burn, 200-word consumer reporting that too often characterizes arts coverage. I intend to stage a more deliberate, extended, generous kind of conversation about things I see at the theatre, at the movies, or on television.
Many arts writers insist on a kind of objectivity meant to mask their own investments in what they see. The Feminist Spectator, on the contrary, will offer my own deeply committed ideas about the importance of the arts in helping us engage with our personal and private lives in the most productive, egalitarian ways.
I’m interested in how culture shapes, as well as reflects our lives. I’m interested in how the arts can participate in a civic conversation about what democracy means and what it might mean. I’m interested in the arts as a vehicle for social change. I’m interested in the arts as a platform for entertainment and pleasure, as well as deep critical thinking. I don’t think pleasure and thought are mutually exclusive.
I am a teacher, a scholar, and a writer with a long history of publishing about theatre and performance (see my bio, below). While The Feminist Spectator is informed by my own scholarship and that of colleagues I read and respect, this blog is meant to be widely accessible to any reader/spectator/practitioner—or what we, in the graduate program I run at the University of Texas at Austin call “citizen/scholar/artists”—with a commitment to the arts and a sensitivity to their political meanings.
We need more forums for the public exchange of ideas about the arts and what they do in American culture. I hope in a small way, The Feminist Spectator will provide such a place.
August 25, 2005
Jill Dolan holds the Zachary T. Scott Family Chair in Drama in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of The Feminist Spectator as Critic (1989), Presence and Desire: Essays on Gender, Sexuality, Performance (1993), and Geographies of Learning: Theory and Practice, Activism and Performance (2001). Her latest book, Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theatre, is available from University of Michigan Press at www.press.umich.edu. Her new project is a critical memoir of lesbian feminism in the United States, called From Flannel to Fleece: A Lesbian of a Certain Age. She is the past president of the Women and Theatre Program of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), and a past president of ATHE itself. She is former Executive Director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her articles have been published in Theatre Journal, The Drama Review, Modern Drama, and Theatre Topics, among other publications. She now heads the Performance as Public Practice MA/PhD Program at UT-Austin.