2019 Honors Theses

Tributary Tales: Using Rasa as a Lens to Decolonize Yoruba Masquerade

By Karishma Bhagani
Thesis directed by Assistant Arts Professor Erin B. Mee with Assistant Professor Joshua Williams

Karishma Bhagani uses rasa, the Sanskrit aesthetic theory of spectatorship, to de-colonize Yoruba masquerade in order to reveal its distinctive dramaturgical structure and performer and participant preparation for mutual interactive exchange during the masquerade. Rasa theory sheds light on the ways in which Yoruba masquerade has been viewed and written about by enabling us to understand the genre in the same way as its participants.

Archives and Their Performances

By Cati Kalinowski
Thesis directed by Assistant Arts Professor Erin B. Mee

Cati Kalinowski explores the ways both the archives and the materials in them are embedded in ways of thinking and histories of categorization that are deeply political. Analyzing the archive as a genre of performance, Kalinowski looks at how the materiality of text, object, the body, and the digital, perform the power structures that lie beneath their surfaces and proposes a way forward that redresses this power structure. 

Holocaust Drama: A Negotiation of Absence in Embodied and Linguistic Representations of Trauma

By Karma Masselli
Thesis directed by NYU Berlin Arts Coordinator and faculty member Dr. Katrin Dettmer

Karma Masselli examines the structural and historical trauma of the Holocaust on the stage. Engaging the fields of trauma studies, memory studies, and performance studies, Masselli argues that Holocaust theatre transforms personal experiences into collective memory and also problematizes the ways the body and language are staged. Through attentive and critical readings of Charlotte Delbo’s Who Will Carry the Word? and Harold Pinter’s Ashes to Ashes, Masselli has written an important assessment of the complications of inscribing trauma in dramatic texts and the ethics of representation. 

Masculine Women and the Possibility of Transformation

By Meagan Grace Sisler
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Laura Levine

Meagan Sisler’s thesis begins with a question which arises from a contradiction in a 1620 pamphlet called "Hic Mulier" which rails against female cross-dressers, those who the pamphleteer says adopt the “garments of shame.” The pamphlet by turns insists that “mannishness” in certain masculine women is something innate and embedded and also is an adopted behavior. What, Sisler asks, accounts for this contradiction between manishness being an inate and an adopted behavior? Pursuing this question through The Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice, Sisler's thesis examines contradictory strands of misogyny in cornerstone texts of Renaissance drama. She asks key philosophical questions and provides fresh answers.