People often associate undergraduate research with the sciences, but there are opportunities for every field and discipline. Rose Mackenzie (’17) is pursuing a double major in Theater Studies and Philosophy, and a minor in Women’s Studies and she spent the summer researching with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity’s SURF program.
The prestigious Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship gives undergraduate students the opportunity to pursue research and creative activity under the guidance of full-time faculty mentors during the summer. Accepted applicants are paid to work for ten weeks with their mentor and alongside students of similar ambition and varied disciplines as they attend professional workshops and faculty seminars.
Rose spent the summer of 2016 working closely with her mentor Dr. Jocelyn Buckner on the project, “Performing Queer Femininities.” Rose created the project as, “an exploration of sexuality positioning women and femmes in theater.” The process was essentially a vast literature review, where she dug through theory texts, plays, the work of individual artists and queer women collectives to analyze “themes and potential for empowerment rather than just representation,” and “how interior/exterior sexuality affects performers, writers, and directors on and offstage.” Her SURF project and continued work will lead to “creating a Queer dramaturgy… a kind of How To/How To Not guide” in producing successful queer theater.
Her ultimate goal is “to bring a play to Chapman University that will be effective and affecting to as many audience slices as possible.” She strives to find the balance of ensuring “the core focus is making this work safe and humanizing for Queer bodies” while making “it affecting to straight audiences while being unapologetically Queer and femme.” Ultimately, Rose says, “I need to find a way to defend my community” and she’s taken to research and art to do so.
Interested in Rose’s work? You can see Unsung Sirens: A Feminist Theatre Festival this weekend. The festival is being produced by three SURF alums, including Rose, Shannon Corenthin, and Lena Romano. Rose is directing Femmes: A Tragedy, Shannon is directing Poof!, and Lena is directing Trifles. Show times are Thursday, October 27 7:00 PM (talk back to follow), Friday, October 28 7:00 PM, and Saturday, October 29 3:00 PM in Moulton Center 230.
If you’re a student and would like to learn more about SURF, or other ways to fund your own research or creative project, head over to OURCA’s website to see funding opportunities!