Interview with Daphne Brooks, 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.
Daphne A. Brooks is professor of English and African-American Studies at Princeton University where she teaches courses on African-American literature and culture, performance studies, critical gender studies, and popular music culture. She is the author of two books: Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Duke University Press 2006), winner of The Errol Hill Award for Outstanding Scholarship on African American Performance from ASTR, and Jeff Buckley's Grace (Continuum 2005). Brooks is currently working on a new book entitled Subterranean Blues: Black Women and Sound Subcultures--from Minstrelsy through the New Millennium (Harvard University Press, forthcoming). Brooks is the author of numerous articles on race, gender, performance and popular music culture such as “This Voice Which Is Not One: Amy Winehouse Sings the Ballad of Sonic Blue(s)face Culture” in Women and Performance; “The Write to Rock: Racial Mythologies, Feminist Theory, and the Pleasures of Rock Music Criticism” in Women and Music; and “‘All That You Can't Leave Behind’: Surrogation & Black Female Soul Singing in the Age of Catastrophe” in Meridians. She is also the editor of The Great Escapes: The Narratives of William Wells Brown, Henry Box Brown, and William Craft (Barnes & Noble Classics 2007) and The Performing Arts volume of The Black Experience in the Western Hemisphere Series, eds. Howard Dodson and Colin Palmer (Pro-Quest Information & Learning 2006).
Professor Brooks is the recipient of 2010-2011 Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship. She is also the past recipient of fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship Program, and the University of California Humanities Research Institute. She has also held residence at U.C. Berkeley as a President's Postdoctoral Fellow and at Harvard University as a W.E.B. DuBois Research Institute Fellow.