Depressive Realism is Why No One Came to My 6th Birthday

Desireé Rowe, Ph.D.

Towson University


Thursday, March 10 at 7:00 pm | Eldon Black Recital Hall, Carr 149


This solo performance piece is composed in two acts that revolve around the desire to reinvent and rediscover our understandings of failure and optimism. Depressive intersplices performative ethnographic writings with an incisive understanding how critical theory is enacted in our everyday experiences. Using the work of Berlant, Halberstam, and Ahmed (among others), Rowe works to match the nuanced discussions of cultural theory with performative engagement of her own experiences. Through discussions of miscarriage, tattoo misspellings, and the birthday party where no one came we find that failure can be (re)constructed as a queer understanding of a life worth living. And, rather than work to redeem our failures, they become significant milestones in our rearticulation of what the imaginary “good life” can be. Because really, how does the good life get constructed? And how can we pull it apart? In this 45 minute show, Rowe hopes to work with the audience to understand that optimism is overrated and that a more nuanced, depressive realism –is where we can all really have fun.



Dr. Desiree Rowe: (Ph.D. 2009, Arizona State University) grew up with the crashing waves of the Jersey Shore and the busy intersections of New York City. This duality has shaped her epistemology and, well, her life. Her work lives at the intersections of queer performance ethnography, feminist perspectives on popular culture, and digital discourses. She is currently an assistant professor of Communication Studies at Towson University. Her work includes articles in Women and Language, Text and Performance Quarterly, Cultural Studies Critical Methodologies, Rethinking History: A Journal of Theory and Practice, Qualitative Inquiry, and many book chapters. She also co-hosted/founded the popular academic podcast The Critical Lede. She is currently touring her solo performance Depressive Realism is Why No One Showed Up to My 6th Birthday.