Nassim W. Balestrini
Intermedial Hip-Hop Life Writing
Autobiographies, rap lyrics, visuals, and other elements of hip-hoppers’ artistic and public personae have been misconstrued by authenticity-oriented reading practices that disregard the fact that any of these representations are aesthetic constructs. Hip-hop life writing published since the 1990s reveals a hitherto overlooked richness of artistic vision that not only redefines the purview of hip-hop self-expression but also stretches and modifies generic conventions and hallmarks prominent in American autobiographical traditions. This project focuses on how hip-hop artists employ intermedial features to subtly (re-)define hip hop and, at the same time, to help re-invent well-known traditions of combining prose and photographs in autobiographies and memoirs.
Contemporary Musical Theater in San Francisco and New York City
This project contributes to the “Cultural Performance” network project sponsored by the German Research Foundation. By focusing on the performance and reception of an opera and a musical, this case study highlights interfaces between transnational American Studies and performance studies–oriented research on American theater. The opera Heart of a Soldier (librettist: Donna Di Novelli, composer: Christopher Theofanidis), which premiered in San Francisco on 10 September 2011, and the award-winning musicals In the Heights (first New York production in 2007) and Hamilton (world premiere in 2015) by Lin-Manuel Miranda, will be studied comparatively. Of specific interest are the contexts in which these works were commissioned, created, and premiered.