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Fulbright Scholar Lenora Champagne Teaching in Japan

Professor and Coordinator of Theatre and Performance Lenora Champagne works in a realm encompassing many genres—she's a playwright, performance artist, and director who often collaborates with sculptors, composers, and media artists.

This fall, she is teaching three classes in Japan as a core Fulbright scholar. In one graduate and two undergraduate level courses at Tokyo's Tsuda College and Shirayuri University, her students will consider identity politics as a theme in several American plays of the 20th century and analyze several plays by American feminist playwrights (Naomi Iizuka, Phyllis Nagy, Susan-Lori Parks and Naomi Wallace) who have written revisions of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter for the stage.

Champagne chose Japan as a result of her longtime interest in Asian theatre forms. "I am particularly interested how Asian theatre and art have influenced and informed developments in Western theatre and art, from the Impressionists on to present day art forms," she explains.

Champagne has taught at Purchase full-time since 1999, and believes, "teaching is a great place to pass on what you've spent a lifetime learning. It also keeps you connected to a younger generation. It can help you stay fresh."

Hoping to return to Purchase with a greater understanding of Asian performance and theatre forms that she can share with students, she asked rhetorically, "Did you know that there is a form of novel here that is written through Twitter? There are thousands of them, and some are best sellers."

The core Fulbright Scholar Program sends 800 U.S. faculty and professionals abroad each year. Grantees lecture and conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's flagship international exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world.

For her personal work, Champagne's been recording both visual and verbal images and impressions and looks forward to what emerges. "In terms of my own work, it is too early to say," she remarks. 

When asked what she loves about Purchase, she described a revealing comparison: "What I love about Purchase is the students. They are not wallflowers. Here in Japan, it is exceedingly difficult to get students to talk or express an opinion."

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