As faculty director of the Humanities Program at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Shigehisa “Hisa” Kuriyama organized “Beyond Words: Gender and the Aesthetics of Communication,” the institute’s flagship conference on gender, held this week at the Knafel Center.
But he also embraced the role of experimental specimen live on stage as part of the upbeat, often poignant opening program on drag culture.
“Harvard professors in drag — who’d have thought it?” he asked the audience during “Communication Can Be a … Drag,” which kicked off the two-day conference. “And then, why not?”
Kuriyama, who is the Reischauer Institute Professor of Culture History, was joined by Robin Bernstein, Joy Foundation Fellow at Radcliffe and Dillon Professor of American History, who was transformed with the assistance of drag king Jayden Jameson KA St. James (Quyen Tran). Bernstein, who is also professor of African and African American Studies and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, prepared for the role by getting a haircut and finely chopping her shorn locks to be used as facial hair.
“This is definitely the most makeup I’ve ever had on my face,” said Bernstein, as Jameson shaded more masculine brows and a more pronounced nose. Midway through the application, Jameson was asked about creating facial hair.
“It’s coming,” said Jameson, as he got set to affix a mustache.