Performance Studies



Jennifer Linde



Jennifer Linde, MA,  is a senior lecturer in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and the artistic director of The Empty Space. She has designed and taught performance studies courses relating to communication and creativity, oral interpretation of literature, performance of sexuality, performance theory, civil communication, and methods for adapting traditional scholarship to the stage. In her position as artistic director, Linde serves as an advisor, script consultant, and director of a variety of laboratory performances presented by faculty, undergraduate and graduate students at The Empty Space. She has participated in the design and development of Civil Dialogue, a format designed to foster civil communication when discussing controversial topics. Linde has engaged Civil Dialogue as a pedagogical tool in performance studies classes and facilitated Civil Dialogue events at the Empty Space since 2004.


Olga Idriss Davis



Olga Idriss Davis, a professor, received her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is an alumna of The Juilliard School in drama. She made her television debut in a recurring role as Student Nurse on the ABC daytime drama, “General Hospital.” Her stage debut occurred with the late Rock Hudson, Claire Trevor, and Leif Erickson in the bi-centennial production of “John Brown’s Body” directed by John Houseman. As a Rockefeller fellow, she conducted research on the performative and liberatory nature of black female slave narratives. Her current scholarship extends the role of narrative in the lives of African American survivors of the Tulsa, Oklahoma Race Riot of 1921. Davis’ research interests include ritual and identity in the African Diaspora, womanist theory, and the performance of African American women’s rhetorical and performative traditions.

Amira de la Garza



Amira de la Garza, associate professor, uses performance, embodied methods and creative writing in (auto) ethnographic research and studies of culture, spirituality, and narrative identity. The most powerful way that De la Garza engages the issues is to perform what she calls "paradoxically (un)certain stories" that emerge in her work and reflection. Her relationship with the audiences and her own embodied experience of performance allows for her to get deeper insights into the nature of what she is researching, which she calls "Questioning the Body." She also teaches a graduate seminar/studio class that works with the body as a site of knowledge capable of profoundly performing the study of human communication.


Benny LeMaster


Benny LeMaster is a critical/cultural communication scholar. In particular, they identify as an intersectionality scholar and pedagogue who studies the performative, discursive, and material constitution of cultural difference as it manifests at both individual and systemic levels. With an intersectional focus on difference, they are interested in the performance of identity, non-normative modes of relationality, and mundane performances of self and/as culture. The methods that they most regularly utilize include both text-centered methods as well as performative and critical field methods such as autoethnography, critical and performance ethnography, critical rhetorical field methods, and arts-based approaches. The critical rhetorics that help shape their intersectional lens include: critical (mixed-)race, queer and queer of color, transfeminist, and critical disability/crip theories. Their teaching and service are co-constitutive of their research, and similarly reflect critical/cultural interests and approaches. For instance, they created Trans Empowerment Groups (TEG) that meld feminist approaches to consciousness raising with a queer interrogation of normativity leading to a unique pedagogical space in which transgender and gender non-conforming students can explore their genders while envisioning and realizing a transformed culture.

Their pronouns are they/them/their