Teacher-Scholar Legacies: Lynn Book

Lynn Book sits crossed legged and suspended in the air with a collage of art in the background.

By Steve Morrison, Communications Strategist for Wake the Arts

If you’ve been lucky enough to witness Lynn Book bringing people together to create, you likely haven’t forgotten the experience. 

“Lynn has always been a colleague who continually has shattered our expectations of what performance is,” said Christina Soriano, Associate Provost for the Arts and Interdisciplinary Initiatives and Associate Professor of Dance. “In many ways, Lynn has been the embodiment of radical collaboration. She invigorated performance in spaces that have not been traditionally thought of as places where one performs and enthusiastically received the buy-in of colleagues from all over the College: from the Department of English to STEM fields.”

An adventurous transmedia artist, Lynn Book deploys extended voice, material practices, and technologies from every discipline she can reach. She has been a Teaching Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the intersection of the Arts and Humanities at Wake Forest University and a Faculty Associate with Transart Institute since its inception in 2004. Her performances, videos, texts, music, exhibitions, and collaborative culture projects have taken shape in every imaginable location: galleries, libraries, clubs, fields, streets, online, and in concert halls. Any place, real or virtual, is a potential performance space.

“Lynn brought to the Department of Theatre and Dance her unique experience as a performance artist,” says colleague Sharon Andrews, Professor of Acting/Directing in the Department of Theatre and Dance. “Through her combined talents as a creative artist and entrepreneur, she taught courses that had a lasting impact on the future pursuits of several of our students.”

Lynn Book dressed in a grey shirt waves in front of a dark grey background

One highlight among many was her performance of Ursonate, a notoriously difficult Dada-ist text composed in a nonsense language by fellow maverick artist Kurt Schwitters.

“My favorite memory of Lynn is her performance of Ursonate in the Hanes gallery,” says colleague Cindy Gendrich, Professor of Acting/Directing in the Department of Theatre and Dance. “She handled this complex, difficult vocal piece with such ease and joy. And she brought students into the performance to make it an even more acoustically 3D experience.”

Dada 100: Wake Forest featured outlandish costumes and bizarre instruments proliferating throughout the ZSR Library in a centenary celebration of the original punk art movement. Creativity: Worlds in the Making was a national symposium at Wake Forest University, where Book led the way toward advancing the national discourse on creativity as a core literacy in today’s global environment. Book’s First Year Seminars challenged students to think beyond the grid and place themselves in the mixes and margins (literally). She has encouraged risk taking for all of her students in attainable ways, and pushed students to be fearless and courageous artists and entrepreneurs.

“Lynn has modeled when and how to push the work of performance into academia whether academia is ready for it or not,” says Soriano. “For that, I will be eternally grateful.”

Book is currently digitizing and preserving the Lynn Book Projects Archive, a corpus that spans 40 years and has received support from the Humanities Institute, the Digital Scholarship Initiative at Wake Forest, and the Interdisciplinary Arts Center. The archive was publicly launched on March 22 in the Scales Fine Arts Center.

“She has brought originality and a spirit of exploration to the department, as well as being a genuinely kind and friendly presence,” says Gendrich. “I will miss her!”

“Lynn invigorated performance in spaces that have not been traditionally thought of as places where one performs and enthusiastically received the buy-in of colleagues from all over the College: from the Department of English to STEM fields.” Christina Soriano