Hana Worthen

Hana Worthen

Interweaving Performance Cultures

Fellow 2013/14

Hana Worthen is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre at Barnard College, Columbia University in New York. She serves on the faculty of the Ph.D. Program in Theatre, and as affiliated faculty of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (Columbia). Her publications include the monograph Playing “Nordic”: The Women of Niskavuori, Agri/Culture, and Imagining Finland on the Third Reich Stage (Helsinki University Print, 2007) and the co-edited anthology Finland’s Holocaust: Silences of History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Her articles on ideologies and performance have appeared in Theatre Journal, Modern Drama, GRAMMA: Journal of Theory and Criticism, Contemporary Theatre Review  and TDR: The Drama Review. Her review articles, “Tip of the Iceberg? Finland and the Holocaust” (2009) and “Israel-Jakob Schur and the Finnish Scholarly Community” (2010), were published in East European Jewish Affairs.

Research Project:

Theatre of Humanisms

As part of my work on the project to date, I have studied a series of postwar European cultural productions—theatre, performance, film, travelogue - that directly engage with or are motivated by the idea of a “humanist Europe”; I hope that my research and work at the Center will translate into the two final chapters of my monograph, provisionally entitled Theatre of Humanisms. In twentieth and twenty-first-century Europe, the performance of “humanism” has been conditioned by secular desires instrumentally applied to shift or re-shift the ideological disposition of “the human.” In historical terms, then, “humanism” is performed through the tissue of European cultural politics, as a way of qualifying, displacing and erasing the meanings and uses it gained as an instrument of the wartime “New Europe” and of the different acts of in/exclusion emerging in the post-wall “new Europe.” Fusing contradictory concepts in one utterance, postwar “humanism” has claimed to restore a ‘humane’ rational, moral and ethical agency in both Eastern and Western Europe. Most recently, in the “human centered” interweaving of the contemporary EU - “promoting unity while preserving diversity” - “humanism” tends to articulate with notions of geopolitical difference, as ‘Europe’ is divorced from the normative nation-state concept of civilian power and perceived rather as a process under transnationalized regulation. Focusing on political notions and aesthetic performances, I inquire into the contact between a processual, critical self-imagining, a “performative” EU identity, and the practices of European stages from the immediate postwar period to the present.

Recommended Publications

  • Worthen, H., “‘Finland is Dead, Dead, Dead’: Ethics and National Identity in Kristian Smeds’s ‘The Unknown Soldier’.” TDR: The Drama Review 56:2, 2012, pp. 34-55.
  • Beck, U./Grande, E., Cosmopolitan Europe, Cambridge: Polity, 2007.
  • Nancy, J.-L., The Inoperative Community, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1991.

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung