Lucy Kerr’s undergraduate thesis, Recognizing Possibility: Intersections of Disability, Contemporary Dance, and Social Philosophy garnered her the grand prize of the 2014 George H. Mitchell/University Co-op Awards at The University of Texas at Austin. She wrote this thesis over the span of two years working both with Dr. Kathleen Higgins in the Philosophy Department and with Dr. Rebecca Rossen of the Theater and Dance Department. Most recently, Recognizing Possibility was used as assigned reading material in an undergraduate course taught by Doran George on Disability as Spectacle in the World Art and Culture department at UCLA. The abstract for her thesis is as follows:
In this project I examine mixed-ability dance artists through the lens of social theory and existential philosophy. I interrogate disability oppressions in society and on stage and explain how the abnormal/normal binary Others and fixates the “deviant” body, marginalizing certain groups from the norm in the every day and in performance based on race, gender, sexuality, and ability. By means of contemporary dance performances which challenge and dissolve these trends, disability assumptions, prejudices, and expectations can be dismantled and the differently-abled body can be recognized as a body with possibility, freedom, expression, and humanity. The dance artists I focus on include street dance, hip hop and performance artist Bill Shannon, contemporary dance choreographer Heidi Latsky, and Austin’s own mixed-ability contact improvisation workshop series Body Shift. In examining these dance artists I apply the philosophies of Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Martin Heidegger as well as the analysis of Petra Kuppers and Josephine Seguna.
If you are interested in reading Lucy’s thesis or would like to make inquiries regarding publication of the work, you may contact Lucy at email@example.com