South African playwright and critic Jane Taylor examines sincerity, drawing on her work with visual artist William Kentridge and her writings on the proceedings of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
According to Taylor, "Anywhere that 'sincerity' names itself, it ceases to exist. It is a value that is vouched for through a circuit of social consensus, in which it cannot itself trade. Given this, my investigation of the concept 'sincerity' is an attempt to determine how it was established as a valorized ideal within Western Protestant culture."
Taylor's inquiry has a dual focus: the history of the idea, beginning with the religious wars of the Reformation, in which conversions, both forced and voluntary, took place; and its implications for global justice in today's media-saturated environment.
Professor Jane Taylor holds the Skye Chair of Dramatic Art at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She has a Ph.D in English from Northwestern University, Chicago, on Restoration theatre and the new commodity markets.
In 1996 she curated "Fault Lines," an exhibition about issues of truth and reconciliation. In 1998, she curated "Holdings" Rethinking the Archive" (David Philip publishers, 2002). In 1996 she wrote the play Ubu and the Truth Commission for Handspring Puppet Company. She has, with composer Kevin Volans, written a new piece of music theatre based on the work of Italo Svevo. Directed by the artist William Kentridge, the production was commissioned by DOKUMENTA, 2002. This piece opened at the KunstenFest in Brussels in 2001. In 1999, Taylor directed Puccini's La Boheme for the Spier Theatre Festival in Cape Town. She has won Rockefeller and Mellon Fellowships. She has written on contemporary South African culture, and in 1987 she co-edited From South Africa with David Bunn (University of Chicago Press).
Taylor teaches film studies, with a particular emphasis on the thriller and psychoanalytic theory.She is working on a book on sincerity. This work arises from an intersection of several interests: theatre arts, portraiture, legal studies, philosophy, and history.