November 21: The Eros of Oral History


Thursday, November 21

509 Knox Hall, 606 W. 122nd St.

6:30-8:30 PM

Co-sponsored by the Columbia School of the Arts and the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series.

Praxis requires integration of theory with practice; even better, the erasure of theory bracketed as “theory” and practice bracketed separately as “practice.” Rather, each is intertwined with the other like a moebius strip upon which one slides precariously but joyously ‘round and ‘round. Embodied practices, not limited to virtuoso artistic expression such as dance, but play, prayer, grating carrots; birthing, caring for the sick, dying; fixing an engine, riding a bicycle, and juggling can enter into the historical record as valid expressions of living and as another form of historical agency.  I suggest that movement quickens theory; theory is carried, balanced and enacted by bodies throughout our lifetimes. Movement is the erotics of life, enacted through theory.  How does recording a dialog, in the form of oral history interviews, reflect, refract and enact these erotics? Where can one find movement in the core of interviewing practice?  Can this exploration of movement emerge into a philosophy, a poetics, an aesthetic of oral history?

Jeff Friedman (Ph.D., University of California-Riverside) is Associate Professor of Dance Studies at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.  Jeff is also the founder and senior editor for Legacy Oral History Program at the San Francisco Museum of Performance & Design, now celebrating its 25th year of service to the Bay Area performing arts communities. He has recorded, edited, and mentored the production of over 100 oral histories of artists, educators, and administrators in dance, music and theater. His publications include book chapters in Sounds and Gestures of Recollection (Routledge); Bodies of Evidence: The Practice of Queer Oral History (Oxford), The Oral History Handbook (Altamira), Are A Hundred Objects Enough to Document the Dance? (University of Leipzig), and History, Memory, Performance (forthcoming, Palgrave). Jeff has been a working dancer and choreographer since 1977, touring nationally and internationally with the Oberlin Dance Collective and as LOCUS Solo Dance, with a particular interest in oral history-based performance works.