“There is a power to looking at hierarchical systems and seeing that they are ultimately harmful to everyone,” said Jean O’Hara, professor of theater, gender studies, and environmental studies. Last spring, Jean co-taught a class with anthropology professor Nelli Sargsyan about the history, politics, and performance of drag (see page 18). “Our class was an opportunity to examine the ways different forms of oppression intersect with gender.”
This issue of Potash Hill touches on that complexity of gender expression from several points of view, from professor Kristin Horrigan’s exploration of gender identity through contact improvisation (page 8) to the pioneering documentaries of trans culture by alumnus André Pérez (page 44). Jean and Nelli’s class provides a valuable opportunity for Marlboro students to reimagine a world where all expressions of gender are allowed, and what that would look like on stage.
Marlboro is a bastion of freedom of expression, gendered or otherwise, so it is timely during this period of political uncertainty and fear that we share alumna Olivia Palermo’s study of free speech on campus (page 14). Although Olivia concedes that upholding freedom of speech is easy when people share a common set of values, she argues that views of intolerant liberalism on college campuses are too simplistic. A shining example of the typical complexity of thoughtful speech can be found in student Fiona Craig’s essay about the dangers of criminal proceedings in cases of intimate partner violence (page 23).
All that and more, of course. This issue is packed with new partnerships, programs, events, and activities of our esteemed faculty members and far-flung alumni. This includes a heartfelt nod to OP director Randy Knaggs (pictured above with yours truly), who is stepping back from most of his responsibilities at the college for health reasons (page 43).
As always, I welcome your news, your views, your reactions to this treasure trove known as Potash Hill. Where do you draw the line between fear and freedom? Between gender identity and gender expression? Share your perspective with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.