Dance Department

Dance/Performance in Interdisciplinary Perspective Symposium

Mar 9, 10|'62 Center|

This symposium, hosted by the Williams College Dance Department, approaches dance and performance as an interdisciplinary method, site of inquiry, and medium of learning. It will bring together scholars and practitioners from Williams College and beyond who utilize movement-oriented performances to engage with disciplines as diverse as sports and martial arts, theater, music, sciences, arts, and anthropology. In framing “dance/performance” broadly as both staged and everyday acts of representation, as a lens for contextual analysis and a technique of bodily practice, the symposium will emphasize how embodied practices can provide insightful perspectives into issues relevant to the humanities and sciences. It will also highlight the various ways that “dance/performance” can enable collaborations that may be thought of as non-traditional or non-normative. The keynote lecture will be delivered by Janet O’Shea, Professor of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA.



Strange Bedfellows? Academic Disciplines in an Age of Right-Wing Populism
Janet O’Shea

The science wars of the 1990s pitted the sciences and the humanities against one another in a battle over objectivity versus the social construction of knowledge. The rise of science denial among right-wing populists seems to continue an opposition to science via recourse to social context. Right-wing populist terms such as “alternative facts” and “fake news” suggest an enthusiastic, if muddled, use of the postmodern critique of knowledge production. At the same time, right-wing populism’s anti-intellectualism has led to a rejection of science and the humanities, whose social analysis is dismissed as political correctness under intellectual guise. Among the greatest threats we now face are those that are physical and environmental in nature, including climate change, food oppression, and environmental racism. These problems do not exist solely because of a gap in scientific understanding, but also because of conditions that are social, political, economic, and historical. This talk opens up a dialogue about the role that the arts and the humanities generally, and dance studies in particular, can play as we face large-scale crises that are both physical and political in nature.