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The Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy

Performing Democracy: Private Citizens on the Public Stage

bronze theater mask

Thursday, September 10, 2015
6:00 p.m.
Devlin Hall, Room 101


  • Edward Hirsch
  • Bryan Doerries
  • Frank Garcia (presenting on behalf of James Boyd White)
  • Rebekah Maggor

Part of "The Arts and the Culture of Democracy" Series.

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about the event


The public performance of democracy and theater grew up together in ancient Greece, and their roots are still fruitfully intertwined. As legal scholar James Boyd White reminds us, we want to affirm publicly the justice or injustice of what has happened to us, and of what we see around us, across both time and geography. The need for democracy to be performed in order to thrive remains as true today as in classical Athens. This conversation will explore how we are expressing our creative possibilities as citizens when we engage with theater in the 21st century.


about the speakers


Ed Hirsch. Photo by Julie Dermansky.

Edward Hirsch is an American poet and critic. Hirsch is the recipient of an Academy of Arts and Letters Award, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, and the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. In 2008, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. His most recent book of poetry is Gabriel: A Poem (2014), which was long-listed for the 2014 National Book Award. He currently serves as the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Edward Hirsch’s first collection of poems, For the Sleepwalkers (1981), received the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University and the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets. His second collection, Wild Gratitude (1986), won the National Book Critics Award. Since then, he has published six additional books of poems: The Night Parade (1989), Earthly Measures (1994), On Love (1998), Lay Back the Darkness (2003), Special Orders (2008), and The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (2010), which brings together thirty-five years of poems. Hirsch is also the author of five prose books, including A Poet’s Glossary (2014), Poet’s Choice (2006), How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (1999), and is the editor of Theodore Roethke’s Selected Poems (2005) and co-editor of The Making of a Sonnet: A Norton Anthology (2008).

Hirsch has been was awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hirsch taught for six years in the English department at Wayne State University and seventeen years in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. Hirsch was educated at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Ph.D. in Folklore.


Bryan Doerries

Bryan Doerries is a writer, director, translator, and the founder of Theater of War, a project that presents readings of ancient Greek plays to service members, veterans, caregivers, and families to help them initiate conversations about the visible and invisible wounds of war. Doerries' forthcoming book, The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today, will be published by Alfred A. Knopf in September 2015, along with a volume of his translations of ancient Greek tragedies, entitled All That You’ve Seen Here is God.

Doerries is also the co-founder of Outside the Wire, a social impact company that uses theater and a variety of other media to address pressing public health and social issues, such as combat-related psychological injury, end-of-life care, prison reform, domestic violence, political violence, recovery from natural and man-made disasters, and the de-stigmatization of addiction. He is a self-described “evangelist” of classical literature and emphasizes its relevance to our lives today, especially in helping individuals and communities heal from suffering and loss.

Doerries previously served as the director of programs at the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, an organization in New York that administers the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. In addition to his work in theater, Bryan lectures on his work at colleges and universities. Doerries received his B.A. from Kenyon College and received a master's degree in theater directing from the University of California, Irvine.


Frank Garcia

Frank J. Garcia is Professor of Law and Dean’s Global Fund Scholar at the Boston College Law School.  Professor Garcia studied law, literature and the humanities at the Michigan Law School under Professor Joseph Vining, a colleague and collaborator of James Boyd White, and is part of an international group of scholars interested in contemporary applications of White’s work to a range of legal subjects including international economic law, Garcia’s research area. This group includes Professor Fiona Smith of Warwick University, who spoke on White’s work in the Clough Series last year.

A Fulbright Scholar, Garcia has lectured widely on globalization and international economic law in Europe, South America and the Asia/Pacific region.  Professor Garcia has held various leadership positions within the American Society of International Law, and currently sits on the editorial board of the Journal of International Economic Law, where he is Book Review Editor.  He is the author, most recently, of “Between Cosmopolis and Community: Globalization and the Emerging Basis for Global Justice,” published in the NYU Journal of International Law and Politics, and Global Justice and International Economic Law: Three Takes, a monograph published by Cambridge University Press.

Professor Garcia will be discussing the work of James Boyd White at this event.



Rebekah Maggor

Rebekah Maggor is a director, translator, and theatre scholar. She creates and writes about theatre that challenges entrenched power structures and makes room for alternative visions of the future. Recently she has focused in particular on contemporary Egyptian and Palestinian playwriting and the grassroots and unmediated perspectives these dramatic texts provide. As a 2014 Fulbright scholar in the Middle East and North Africa Regional Research Program she studied Palestinian theatre and performance in the West Bank and Israel. She is co-organizer of the 2015 ReOrient Festival forum “Theatre Between Home and Exile: New Palestinian Voices,” funded by the Doris Duke Foundation. She co-edited, co-translated and wrote the introduction to the forthcoming anthology Tahrir Plays and Performance Texts from the Egyptian Revolution (Seagull  Books/University of Chicago Press), which was recognized with a Literature in Translation Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She received a B.A. from Columbia University, an M.F.A. in theatre from the Moscow Art Theatre School, and a certificate in advanced theatre training from the American Repertory Theater Institute at Harvard University. She has taught at Harvard, Vanderbilt, and is currently an affiliated scholar at the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University.


James Boyd White

James Boyd White is an American law professor, literary critic, scholar, and philosopher who is credited for founding the “Law and Literature” movement. White is a graduate of Amherst College, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Graduate School, where he obtained an M.A. in English. After graduation from law school, White spent a year as a Sheldon Fellow in Europe and practiced law in Boston for two years. He began his teaching career at the University of Colorado Law School and also was a professor at both the Law School and College of the University of Chicago.

He has published numerous books: The Legal Imagination (1973), Constitutional Criminal Procedure (1976), When Words Lose Their Meaning: Constitutions and Reconstitutions of Language, Character, and Community (1984), Heracles' Bow: Essays in the Rhetoric and Poetics of the Law (1985), Justice as Translation: An Essay in Cultural and Legal Criticism (1990), "This Book of Starres": Learning to Read George Herbert (1994), Acts of Hope: The Creation of Authority in Literature, Law, and Politics (1994), From Expectation to Experience: Essays on Law and Legal Education (2000), The Edge of Meaning (2001); and in 2006, both Living Speech: Resisting the Empire of Force and an edited volume, How Should We Talk About Religion?

White has served as a governor of the Chicago Council of Lawyers and is a member of the American Law Institute and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar in 1997-98. He is currently a professor of English emeritus and the L. Hart Wright Collegiate Professor.