Review Comment

[THTR 3150 UN] Western Theatre Traditions: Classic to Romantic

May 16, 2018

Worthen, William Gold_nugget
[THTR 3150 UN] Western Theatre Traditions: Classic to Romantic

I don't think there is a worse professor in the theatre department than W.B. Worthen. It is astounding that at a college like Barnard that an intensely problematic straight white male is allowed to teach a course let alone head the department. If you are looking to be a theatre major you don't really have a choice but to suffer through this theatre trivia fascist's survey course where you may experience repeated instances of racism, homophobia, or just hours of worthless information. This worthless lecturing is not presented because it is valuable to your education but because it will stroke the extremely large ego of such a small man who loves to remind you of how much irrelevant information he stores in his brain. It is unclear whether or not W.B. has realized that the internet has made memorizing these factoids irrelevant and should instead focus the course on teaching practical ideas about the western theatrical canon relevant to our practices or if he chooses to waste our time and money on purpose.

Now to describe the specific instances of racism I witnessed while taking his course. The first instance involved a theatrical use of blackface in which blackness was said to represent evil, ugliness and badness. Worthen went on to describe these ideas and then commented saying "isn't that kinda funny" as he chuckled much like the imp he is. He did not deconstruct the performance along the lines of how blackface affects perceptions of the black body as an image or about the racial violence committed through the performance and even the description of it to us without acknowledging that the ideas presented were wrong. According to Worthen blackface is kinda funny. Another instance involved him getting behind on his Hamlet lectures. Because he talked too much he got behind in material and decided that rather than reading a theoretical piece that analyzed how western canon can demonize the non-western body and create negative perceptions of the colonized subject and having a day in class talking about the intersection between race and canonical material–the one day in the semester to do so since everything else was eurocentric white work–that he would finish talking about Hamlet and not talk about race. The extra day of hamlet was spent entirely discussing the meaning of the word "enseamed" that Hamlet uses as an insult to Gertrude. He talked about how most people think it means semen but actually historically it refers to a process about getting your falcons to shit out everything they have in their stomach. So here I am left without a theoretical means to deconstruct this western canon in such a way that I can break down how these texts racialize and destroy the non white body, but thanks to good ol W.B. i know the difference between cum and falcon shit. As a columbia student I have had to take a lot of courses that explore the western canon and I have never had a professor who is so insistent on upholding white male hegemony. Almost every other core professor has at the very least spent 3-4 class days if not all in examining how we can break down western canon in terms of it's negative impacts on non white bodies, but good Old William over here only allotted one class which he skipped in order to give us factoids about falcon shit versus cum.

In addition the class overall is completely worthless. His measures of knowledge are whether you can memorize dates/ names of things rather than learn anything. While I did well along these grading standards because of my strong memory, I do not feel that I learned a thing and lost the information through a data dump in the break after the class. I have taken a lot of classes within the department and it baffles me how I hear that people like him as a professor–albeit all these people who profess their love for him are white and did not care about him being racist in class. Avoid this man at all costs unless you have to take his course–ignore that gold nugget is a representation of white students upholding this awful white man upon a pedestal of greatness regardless of the POC and LGBTQ+ people he is hurting. Don't base your desire to complete the theatre major off of him. Take every other professor you can and you'll see he's just a piece of trash among diamonds of strong intelligent women who actually know how to teach.


2 papers. One is 5 page, the second is 8-12 pages. Final exam that is a trivia quiz-tested entirely on your memorization of short facts. Feels like I've been on jeopardy now except instead of winning any money I just got through an exam.

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