To nominate an outstanding LSU faculty member for the Flagship Faculty honor, please e-mail the LSU Today.
The deadline to submit news items for the LSU Today e-mail newsletter is noon on the day prior to publication. Please enter calendar items on the LSU Master Calendar.
LSU is an equal
LSU Today Flagship Faculty
What was your previous position and where?I've been at LSU since 1996. Before that, I was an instructor at DePaul University in Chicago. Iíve also taught at Northwestern University in Evanston while I finished my Ph.D. there, in 1995.
What brought you to LSU?I came to LSU to join the Performance Studies program in the Department of Communication Studies. It was an opportunity to be among some of the best scholars in my field in one of the best programs in a communication department with a rich and long history, with people whom I admire and respect — and they have been the finest colleagues on the planet. It meant a big move and some culture shock, but I loved southern Louisiana from the moment I arrived.
What are your research interests?My research concerns the ways texts perform cultural work — both literary texts and films, fictional and non-fictional. For example, I've done two big projects about the legacies of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" and of the Robert Flaherty documentary, "Louisiana Story." Much of my research is informed by the essays of the philosopher and cultural critic Mikhail Bakhtin, who has given me a vocabulary and methods to understand how texts work in culture, and how culture works in texts. In performance studies, performance is both the thing we study and the way we study, so my research is often realized in live performances, videos and multimedia installations. I've also been working on multimedia publication in electronic journals as a set of potentials to represent performance studies scholarship in more of its visual and acoustic dimensions.
What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?I hope to continue to cultivate enthusiasm in my students, and for myself in my own research.
What do you enjoy most about LSU?I enjoy working with creative students and colleagues in the HopKins Black Box theatre and in projects like the Fellini Project, a collaboration with Kevin Bongiorni (Foreign Languages and Literatures) where we taught two linked courses that featured a spring break trip to Italy to work on video projects inspired by Fellini. It was such a rich experience that we did it two years in a row. Iíve been able to collaborate on several projects with biologist-playwright Vince LiCata (Biological Sciences) that express our shared interest in how performance might best communicate scientific concepts and how we might balance art and science in performance without compromising either. I'm also mindful of the everyday things that make LSU a singular place to work — the Quad when the azaleas come out and the peach ice cream at the Dairy Store.
What are your major accomplishments?My colleagues and I have built a vibrant and strong Performance Studies program, and together we've accomplished the ideal balance among theory, history and practice. I'm also very proud of my work directing the Film and Media Arts, or FMA, program for five years — building curricula and landing grants to facilitate digital video practice in the program, working with fine colleagues like the programís current director, Jim Catano (English) and our students to make project-based learning a unique feature of the program. We've gone from having only a handful of students in the program to close to 100, and weíve just had a new FMA concentration approved for the Bachelor of Liberal Arts in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, so more growth is sure to come. Itís been thrilling to see FMA alums achieve success in graduate schools and in the film and media industries that are thriving in Louisiana.
Lastly, I've been appointed to the research board of the National Communication Association and, as part of that position, I travel to Washington to visit with my congressional representatives to ask them to support funding for the humanities, which is heady and important and fun work. Last fall, I wrote and directed "Beyond the Utmost Bound," a performance about Antarctic exploration that was metaphorically about what it means to do collaborative research. My greatest accomplishments have been made shoulder to shoulder with fine colleagues and students.