Elsa Bean

B.A. '20

Elsa Bean

Elsa Bean is a Senior in both Performance Studies and Drama at Tisch School of the Arts. Most recently, her paper "Crossing the Plane of Immanence: Epistemological Mirrors and Machines in Heiner Müller’s 'Hamletmachine'" won the NYU Berlin Award for Excellence in Essay Writing. Two other papers, "Transient Nature: Onnagata Body Politics From the Pre-Modern Through the Modern Era" and "A World of Dreams, A Paradox of Fantasy: The Rose of Versailles and Lesbian Desire In Takarazuka and Its Fandom", were presented at the 2019 Festival of Voices conference. Bean has also studied for four years at the Experimental Theater Wing and has written, composed, and performed her own work there numerous times. Her most recent piece, The Indiscreet Toys, was due to go up this April but has been delayed due to COVID-19. Her work across all genres tends to deal with exploring the interplay between queerness, gender, archive, and death.

TItle of Capstone Project

"The Most Dissolute Licentiousness of the Fables of the Past": Lesbian Pornography and Identity in the Enlightenment Eurosphere

Description of Capstone Project

"It seems rather superfluous to write an introduction to a piece of pornography. Why not just get down to it?"- Andrew Brown, Venus in the Cloister 

Why indeed? Pornography certainly invites us to get down to it and to get down with it but its role in pleasurable escapism must not be used as a reason to discount pornography's agency in distorting and creating flows between identities powers, and bodies. This paper explores pornography's role in the formation and function of European Enlightenment identity through the lens of texts about some of the figures to whom access to this form of subjecthood would have been foreclosed: women and the women they loved. These writings reveal how sapphic bodies and erotics were instrumental in affirming new forms of masculinity at a time when male identity was undergoing a radical cultural transformation.

"Venus and Adonis" by Giorgio Ghisi c. 1570, Italy.

"Venus and Adonis" by Giorgio Ghisi c. 1570, Italy.


New York University

Bachelor of Arts - Performance Studies

Bachelor of Fine Arts - Drama

New York, New York