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date: 14 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on the costume designer Willa Kim as a case study of costume history in American theater and situates her historiographically in the study of Asian American theater and performance. A brief examination of Kim’s career unsettles how theater historians have understood race, representation, and body politics. The current assumptions about the body and how it should be understood as a theoretical concept are mostly performer based. Much attention is given to an actor’s or a dancer’s body, but little has been written about the costume that is usually inseparable from the performer onstage. Using Willa Kim as a touchstone, this chapter examines the absence and presence of costume design in theater and performance scholarship and argues for more integration of design studies in the discourse of the body and performance.

Keywords: Willa Kim, costume design, Asian American theater, race, representation, body politics, Korean American

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