Jasmine Johnson
Courtesy Jasmine Johnson
Jasmine Johnson

Dance and performance scholar Jasmine Johnson has joined Brandeis as an assistant professor in the African and Afro-American studies department and the women’s, gender and sexuality studies program. Her scholarship examines what dance and performance reveal about history, culture, race and class. She’s currently working on a book titled “Rhythm Nation: West African Dance and the Politics of Diaspora.” Johnson’s appointment is one of several that expand the university’s strengths in African diaspora research.

The personal papers of comedian Lenny Bruce, known for his biting commentaries on American society, are headed to Brandeis, where they will become part of the Robert D. Farber University Archives and Special Collections. A generous gift from the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation made the acquisition possible. Archives officials call the materials “a great fit” at Brandeis because of the light they shed on issues related to freedom of speech, censorship, social justice and Jewish humor. In 2016, 50 years after Bruce’s death, the university will host a retrospective on his life and work.

Enter, stage right: In fall 2014, Theresa Rebeck, MA’83, MFA’86, PhD’89, joined the University of Houston’s School of Theatre and Dance as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Playwriting. Rebeck has written extensively for theater, film and television. She also served as creator and executive producer of the TV series “Smash.”

The Lydian String Quartet has welcomed violist Mark Berger, PhD’12, as its newest member, filling the chair left vacant by the death of Mary Ruth Ray. Berger also serves as an associate professor of the practice in the music department. In addition to the Lydians, he frequently performs with the Boston Symphony, the Boston Pops, Emmanuel Music and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. When Berger was a Brandeis student, the Lydians performed one of his earliest compositions, “Notturno.”

Marc Brettler ’78, MA’78, PhD’87, the Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies at Brandeis, earned a gold medal in the religion category at the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Brettler won as a contributor to the book “Three Testaments: Torah, Gospel and Quran.” In 2004, he won a National Jewish Book Award for “The Jewish Study Bible,” which he co-edited.

It was all in the family during a fall production of “Hedda Gabler” at the Gamm Theatre, in Pawtucket, R.I. The title role was played by Marianna Bassham, MFA’02. And Marya Lowry, associate professor of theater arts at Brandeis, played Aunt Juliana.

The Rose Art Museum has received two $100,000 grants. One, from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, will support “Lisa Yuskavage: The Brood,” opening at the Rose in September 2015. The exhibition, Yuskavage’s first solo U.S. museum show in more than 15 years, will survey two and a half decades of figurative painting by the American artist. The other grant, from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will support three years of programming triggered by the hiring of a curator of academic projects, who will help integrate Rose collections and programs into teaching and learning at Brandeis. This is the first time the Rose has received a grant from either foundation.