Katherine Brewer Ball

Book Launch and Reading: Katherine Brewer Ball

Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 5:30pm
Smith Reading Room, Olin Memorial Library, 252 Church Street, Middletown


The Theater Department presents a gathering in celebration of Assistant Professor of Theater and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Katherine Brewer Ball’s new book The Only Way Out: The Racial and Sexual Performance of Escape (Duke University Press).

The gathering will begin at 5:30pm, with the reading starting at 6pm. Refreshments will be served. 

In The Only Way Out, Brewer Ball explores the American fascination with the escape story. Brewer Ball argues that escape is a key site for exploring American conceptions of freedom and constraint. Stories of escape are never told just once, but become mythic in their episodic iterations, revealing the fantasies and desires of society, the storyteller, and the listener. While white escape narratives have typically been laden with Enlightenment fantasies of redemption where freedom is available to any individual willing to seize it, Brewer Ball explores how Black and queer escape offer forms of radical possibility. Drawing on Black studies, queer theory, and performance studies, Brewer Ball examines a range of works, from nineteenth-century American literature to contemporary queer of color art and writing by contemporary American artists, including Wilmer Wilson IV, Tourmaline, Tony Kushner, Junot Díaz, Glenn Ligon '82, Hon. '12, Toshi Reagon, and Sharon Hayes. Throughout, escape emerges as a story not of individuality but of collectivity and entanglement.