Lily Mengesha is honored and enthusiastic to be a visiting scholar in the Literature Section for the 2016-2017 academic year. She is a PhD Candidate in performance studies at Brown University completing a dissertation on the relationship between violence, representation and performance art. Her dissertation, tentatively titled Hard to See: Disappearance, Indigeneity and Performance, examines traces of missing women, communities and histories in the form of performances made by, and/or for, Latinx and Indigenous artists from 1990 to the present. Through five case studies, this project explores the longer genealogy of how performance artists have used their abject body art aesthetics to address topics related to dispossession and the impacts of settler and colonial violence. These select artists ask audiences to consider the unseen—including the survivors and victims of genocide, colonized lands, and displaced persons—through the surrogate of the performer(s) in anxiety-producing or extremely vulnerable scenarios. This project integrates Indigenous and Third World feminisms, affect theory, new materialism, and performance theories in their shared concern with presence, liveness and dispossession. Her work unfolds at the intersection of women, gender and sexuality studies, performance studies, and ethnic studies.
Lily has taught courses on research methods, social justice performance, black gay/lesbian theater, contemporary Indigenous performance, and persuasive communication. For the last three years, she has been the graduate student mentor for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, a program that supports and develops the research projects of racially underrepresented students. She believes in the power of mentorship in both guiding and challenging student research, and looks forward to this role as a future professor. When not working on her dissertation, she loves to see, write and direct performances whenever possible. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Gender and Sexuality Studies from Bryn Mawr College and her Masters of Science in Education from Hunter College’s Graduate School of Education.