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Humans of the U: Lynn Deboeck

“My doctorate is in theatre, but I have a graduate certificate in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. A perfect example of how my fields merge is an honors course I teach called Intellectual Traditions: Gender, Performance & Performativity. In this course, I have my students look at history through the lens of gender—how gender roles are constructed socially and how we are affected by them. I do this examination in terms of scripts. We read actual play scripts and think about them contextually in the time period and how they serve to reinforce and resist roles. But we also look at lived social scripts and see how they operate in the same way the play scripts do. 

In our world, there are different writers and players of those scripts, and the way theatre looks at performance helps me to situate it for a lot of students. This helps me teach them that they were cast in a role, whether they knew it or not, and however they choose to perform their role, they are part of the cycle from which we continue to construct meaning.

Students are my favorite part of the work I do. No matter what course I teach, whether it’s gender studies or theatre or my honors course, I know the students are going to bring amazing ideas into the classroom. I don’t think people give undergraduate students enough credit for their thirst for knowledge.

When we have exercises in class, I can’t predict where they will go, but I know they will go somewhere and that’s what I love. I think that’s part of my theatre training. When you do a live performance, that live element is something you can’t replicate. And this also translates to class. The live element of being in the room with students creates things that will never happen again. I will leave that classroom. I will teach the same course the next semester. I will have the same exercise—and something completely different will happen in that course. I love that and it energizes me. 

Students feel it as well. They say they can’t wait for what is going to happen next and that it’s just like watching a play. If it’s a really good play and is performed well, you’re on the edge of your seat and you can’t wait for what’s going to come next. I just love seeing that in the students. I enjoy watching them become invested.”

— Lynn Deboeck, an associate professor in theatre and the Honors College, associate professor (lecturer) in Gender Studies