Interview with Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, conducted by Diana Taylor, founding director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. This interview is a part of a series curated by the Hemispheric Institute, articulated around the question 'What is Performance Studies?' The series aims to provide a multifaceted approach to the often difficult task of defining the coordinates of both a field of academic study as well as a lens through which to assess and document cultural practice and embodied behavior. The contingent definitions documented in this series are based on the groundbreaking experiences and the scholarly endeavors of renowned figures in contemporary performance studies and practice.
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is Professor of Performance Studies at New York University, where she is also Affiliated Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. She is the author of Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage (University of California Press 1998), a key book for understanding techniques of display and the performativity of objects – and persons – in exhibitions. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett researches performance practice and has published on klezmer music and other topics of Jewish culture, as well as general American culture, aesthetics of everyday life, cookery and performance, ethnography, world's fairs, museum, theater and tourist productions. Her many awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship, Getty Research Institute fellowship, Winston Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University, and resident research fellowship at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She was designated Distinguished Humanist for 2003 by the Melton Center for Jewish Studies at Ohio State University.
Professor Kirshenblatt-Gimblett coordinated the Working Group on Jews, Religion, and Media at New York University's Center for Religion and Media, New York University, with Jeffrey Shandler. She also organized the Jews and Performance colloquium, jointly sponsored by the Jewish Theological Seminary and New York University, with Edna Nahshon.