The Theatrical Professoriate
Contemporary Higher Education and Its Academic Dramas
This book argues that today’s professoriate has become increasingly theatrical, largely as a result of neoliberal policies in higher education, but also in response to an anti-intellectual scrutiny that has become pervasive throughout the Western world.
The Theatrical Professoriate: Contemporary Higher Education and Its Academic Dramas examines how the Western professoriate increasingly finds itself enacting command performances that utilize scripting, characterization, surrogation, and spectacle—the hallmarks of theatricality—toward neoliberal ends. Roxworthy explores how the theatrical nature of today’s professoriate and the resultant glut of performances about academia on stage and screen have contributed to a highly ambivalent public fascination with academia. She further documents the "theatrical turn" witnessed in American higher education, as academic institutions use performance to intervene in the diversity issues and disciplinary disparities fueled by neoliberalism. By analyzing academic dramas and their audience reception alongside theoretical approaches, the author reveals how contemporary academia drives the professoriate to perform in what seem like increasingly artificial ways.
Ideal for practitioners and students of education, ethnic, and science studies, The Theatrical Professoriate deftly intervenes in Performance Studies’ still-unsettled debates over the differential impact of live versus mediated performances.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Introduction: Introducing…the Theatrical Professoriate 1. A Crisis of Representation 2. The Spectacle-Archive of the Public’s Professoriate 3. The Theatrical Turn of Academia’s Diversity Crisis 4. The STEM Takeover and Academia’s Makeover 5. Professorial Performance in the Neoliberal Academy 6. Chapter Breakdown Chapter 1: #Oscars So White and Historically White Universities 1. The Spectacle-Archive of the 2015 Academy Awards 2. Hollywood’s and Academia’s Myths of Meritocracy 3. Whiplash, Boyhood, and The Stanford Prison Experiment 4. "A Long and Terrifying Fall" in Still Alice and The Theory of Everything 5. Personalized Epiphanies, or "Eureka" Moments 6. A Failure to "Only connect!" 7. The Theatrical Façade of an Uncaring Academy Chapter 2: Academic Drama on Stage and Screen 1. Staging the Professor’s Body: Canonical Academic Plays Turned Screenplays 2. David Mamet’s Oleanna and Teaching Against the Machine 3. Margaret Edson’s Wit and the Maternal Wall 4. David Auburn’s Proof and the Violence of Mind-Body Dualism 5. Rebecca Gilman’s Spinning into Butter and the Diversity Charade Chapter 3: Behind the Scenes of Academia’s Diversity Charades 1. The Spectacle of "Microaggressions" and the Racial Crisis Facing Academia 2. The Mediated Versions of Dear White People 3. The Stage Origins of I, Too, Am Harvard 4. Eleanor Burgess’s The Niceties 5. Rachel Lynett’s Well-Intentioned White People 6. Lydia Diamond’s Smart People 7. "Diversity Theatre" as Critical Theory Chapter 4: Framing Science for the Death of the Humanities 1. The Interdisciplinary Pitfalls of "STE(A)M" 2. Amateurism as Antidote for the Theatrical Professoriate 3. Staging Physics’ Toxic Masculinity in Losing the Nobel Prize 4. Framing Computer Science in Purely Academic 5. A Backstage Tour of the Nobel Prize in Margin of Error 6. STEM as Theatre’s New Patron Conclusion: Diagnosing Academia’s Theatrical Turn 1. The Humane Interventions of Karen Zacarias’s Just Like Us 2. The Ambivalent Spotlight of the Theatrical Turn 3. Academic Drama as Pharmakon 4. Confessions of an Academic Theatre Interventionist 5. Framing Computer Science in Purely Academic 6. A Backstage Tour of the Nobel Prize in Margin of Error 7. STEM as Theatre’s New Patron Index
Emily Roxworthy is Associate Professor (Theatre and Dance) and Provost of Earl Warren College at the University of California, San Diego. She is the founder and artistic director of Workplace Interactive Theatre, and the author of The Spectacle of Japanese American Trauma: Racial Performativity and World War II, which received the Barnard Hewitt Award Honorable Mention from the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR).