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Students

Matthew Bent received his BA in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick and his MA in Theatre and Performance from Queen Mary, University of London before coming to Northwestern. His research interests include: intersections between theatre/film/visual art aesthetics, formal innovations in modern theatre, the dynamics of cultural diplomacy, and Marxist theory. At Northwestern Matt participates in the Middle East and North African Studies Cluster as the recipient of a Mellon Interdisciplinary Fellowship, reflecting an ongoing interest in cultural production in Iran, including the Shiraz Arts Festival and the ‘New Wave’ in cinema.

Rebekah Bryer received her BA in History/Theatre and Dance Studies from Wheaton College (MA) and her MA in History from Northeastern University. Her research interests are focused on the various intersections of performance and public memory, particularly in American culture. Previous projects examined the work of Anna Deavere Smith and the theatrical life of George Washington, and she is currently researching how representations of the body perform in commemorative spaces. She is affiliated with the Rhetoric and Public Culture Cluster and is the recipient of a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship. 

Janine Chow received her BA in English from Yale University, where she wrote her thesis on Matilda the Musical. Her research examines how children and childhoods are performed in American musical theatre, with attention to adaptive shifts between source text and production. As a sound designer, she enjoys examining technical theatre and how visceral elements shape one’s cerebral experience of a show.

Maria De Simone holds a BA in English and Spanish and an MA in American Literature from Cà Foscari University in Venice (Italy). Her dissertation retraces the off-stage and on-stage lives and personas of immigrant vaudeville performers in the United States between 1880 and 1924. She is interested in immigrant artists’ deployments of racial impersonation as a stage device and as a tool to grapple with questions of identity, assimilation, and foreignness in early-twentieth-century America. At Northwestern, she is affiliated with the Gender and Sexuality Cluster and is the recipient of a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship.

Ana Diaz Barriga received a BA in Drama from the University of Glamorgan (UK) and an MA in Advanced Theatre Practice from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (UK). She is the recipient of a Mellon Cluster Fellowship in Science Studies.  Her research is focused on the links between cognitive science and puppetry; in particular how the activation of kinesthetic empathy in puppet theatre affects the ontological status of the puppet, and what this means in terms of the audience reception of the performance.

Laura Ferdinand Feldmeyer received her BA and MA in Theatre from Miami University where she served as adjunct instructor of theatre. Her research interests include performances of femininity in the American South, constructions of boyhood in WWI-era Great Britain, and pedagogical development using the techniques of improv comedy. Her current research project “Act Like a Lady: New Southern Women and the Performative Power of Femininity” explores the relationship between performances of “ladyhood” and historical memory in Jim Crow-era Atlanta. Her article “Preparing Boys for War: J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan Enlists in World War I’s ‘Great Adventure'” appears in the September 2017 issue of Theatre History Studies. She continues as the president of SPG – Northwestern’s Graduate Improv Club and as an affiliate of the British Studies Cluster.

Alícia Hernàndez Grande earned her BA in English and Theatre from Rice University and her MA in Theatre History and Dramaturgy at the University of Houston. Her dissertation project considers the development of Catalan cultural identity and independence politics through theatre, spectacle, and public protest. Her project and research interests also intersect with historical memory, trauma, and public spectacle. Other research interests include sports, including the Olympic Games, the World Cup, and Formula 1. She is affiliated with the British Studies cluster and with Northwestern’s The Writing Place.

Heather Grimm received her B.A. in Theatre and Economics from Denison University, and her M.A. in Theatre and Performance from Queen Mary University of London. Her research interests include the history of theatre in corporate and industrial contexts, heterodox political economy, and the performance of regional American cultures (specifically Appalachian and Midwestern) within a mass cultural context.

Megan Housley received her BA in Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic (!) from the University of Cambridge, UK; her DipGrad in Theatre Studies from the University of Otago, NZ; and her MA in English Literature from the University of Warwick, UK. Broadly speaking, her research focuses on networks of cultural production and different popular performances of national identity during the protracted formation of the Kingdom of Great Britain. She is additionally interested in performances of Renaissance and Enlightenment political thought, both on and off the stage. Megan is affiliated with Northwestern’s British Studies Graduate Cluster and is the recipient of a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship.

Lisa Kelly received a BA in Theatre Arts from UNC- Chapel Hill, and an MFA in Theatre Pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her dissertation explores how nineteenth-century British actresses engaged in reputation management and the rise of celebrity culture through participation in philanthropy, advertisement, and autobiographical presentation of self. She is currently the Associate Director of the Center for Teaching at the University of Iowa.

Hayana Kim received BAs (English and Political Science) and an MA (English) from Ewha Womans University (Seoul, Korea). Her MA thesis treated dramaturgies of staging memory in Tennessee Williams’ and Arthur Miller’s works. Her current research includes memory studies, spatial practices, performance of social justice, and the intersection of aesthetics and politics in the context of modern and contemporary history of South Korea.

Liz Laurie holds a BA in Classical Civilization from New York University and an MA in Theatre from Hunter College. Her research interests center on the intersection of gender, sound, and popular culture. She is currently working on a soundwalks project that explores street harassment, and she writes a regular column about television and representation for The Clyde Fitch Report.

Dwayne Keith Mann is a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University. He holds a graduate degree in Performance Studies from New York University, where he delivered a Master’s thesis on aesthetics, figuration, labor, and black things. His dissertation project, part of the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama program, studies late-nineteenth century parade and drill performance on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, disclosing intersectional spaces of national and state military defense strategies, musical theatre performance, and black male figuration. Dwayne is also the Artistic Director of kei•aesthetic production &design, an arts and leisure warehouse specializing in intellectual gameplays.

Tova Markenson received a BA in English from Carleton College and an MA in Theatre and Drama from Northwestern University. Her dissertation on Latin American Yiddish theatre and Jewish women’s migration during the early twentieth century has received support from the American Society for Theatre Research, the American Academy of Jewish Research, the Buffet Institute for Global Studies, and The Graduate School. Tova currently holds dissertation fellowships from the Sexualities Project at Northwestern and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. At Northwestern, she is a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellow in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and a Jewish Studies Cluster affiliate. Performance’s power to cultivate embodied presence inspires her teaching, dramaturgy, and directing.

Rachel Merrill Moss is a doctoral candidate in the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama at Northwestern University and a 2018-2019 Fulbright grantee to Poland. She holds a BA in Theatre from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MA in Theatre History and Criticism from CUNY Brooklyn College. Rachel’s dissertation examines a variety of stage and public performances in Poland, specifically exploring shifting representations of Jewishness from the interwar period to post-soviet era, in conversation with changing modes of national identity formation and memory work. At Northwestern, she is a member of the Jewish Studies cluster and the Buffett Institute Russian and Eastern European Studies working group. Rachel has presented work at ASTR, ATHE, and the Polish-Jewish Studies Working Group and she is the 2017-2018 Vice President of the Graduate Student Caucus of ASTR.

Grace Kessler Overbeke received her BA in Theatre and English at Wesleyan University, and her MA through Northwestern’s IPTD program. She is affiliated with the Jewish Studies cluster, the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies, and the Searle Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning. Her current research interests include female Jewish comedians and autobiographical performance among marginalized populations. She is also a practicing dramaturg.

Gabrielle Randle received a BA in Drama and Sociology from Stanford University and an MA in Performance as Public Practice from The University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include conscious dramaturgical interventions in the staging of protest and survival. Her research currently centers on the acts of testimony and witness in the performance of Black Women Revolutionaries. Gabrielle is affiliated with the Comparative Race and Diaspora Cluster and is the recipient of a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship.

Eleanor Russell received a BA in Religious Studies from Grinnell College and an MA in Theatre History and Criticism from CUNY Brooklyn College. Her dissertation explores mid-twentieth century stand-up comedy on record and its relationship to avant-garde performance practices. She is affiliated with the Critical Theory Cluster. She hosts a podcast on sound and performance: http://www.noisyghost.com.

Rachel Russell, from Baltimore, MD, holds a BFA in Dance Pedagogy from Columbia College Chicago and a MA in Performance Studies from New York University. Her research includes understanding, documenting, and conceptualizing the present day history of Black Women dancers, choreographers and their predecessors. Rachel is affiliated with the Interdisciplinary Cluster in Gender & Sexuality and is the recipient of a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship.

Skye Strauss earned her B.A. in Theatre with University Honors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and her M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from Queen’s University Belfast (Northern Ireland) as a Rotary Scholar. Her dissertation explores how the material world tells stories. Her writing uses puppetry theory and new materialism to explore how design and performing objects participate in the collective creation process and how that fosters intense affective experiences for the audience. She has presented her writing in working groups at ASTR and in a panel presentation at ATHE. She has published a performance review in Puppetry International, a book review in Theatre Topics, and has an interview chapter in the forthcoming Allied Artists book from Focal Press. When she is not on campus, she can be found building magical things or hanging upside down at the circus.

Amy Swanson holds a BFA in dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her dissertation, supported by a Fulbright-Hays fellowship, examines representations of gender and sexuality in contemporary dance in Senegal vis-à-vis the increasingly heterosexist public sphere. Her research interests include transnational circulation, postcolonial theories, African gender and sexuality studies, and critical race theory.

Chelsea Taylor holds a BA in Theatre and English from Trinity University and an MA in Theatre Studies and Dramaturgy from the University of Houston. Her MA thesis explored impossible stage directions in modern and postmodern plays through the lenses of semiotics and affect theory. Her research interests include production and audience reception theories, postmodern German theatre, and the performance of religion in megachurches and televangelism. She is affiliated with the Global Avant-Garde and Modernism Cluster.

Weston Twardowski holds dual BAs in History and Theatre from Louisiana State University, and an MA in Theatre Studies from the University of Houston. His current research focuses on performance and civic identity after cultural trauma, primarily in the context of post-Katrina New Orleans. He has worked professionally as an actor and director, and is currently the literary manager of Third Culture Theatre in Los Angeles where he is also a resident director.

Keary Watts is a third-year graduate student and an affiliate of the Critical Theory Cluster. He studied History and Theatre at Auburn University, and completed an A.M. in Theatre and Performance Studies (along with a certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies) at Washington University in St. Louis. His dissertation research explores contemporary performances that mobilize anti-racist politics through the tactical deployment of blackface minstrel traditions. 

Elena Weber received her BA and MA in Media Studies, Theater Studies and Art History from the University of Cologne. Her research interests include ethnographic methods, urban studies, spatial practices, and the performative reproduction and reenactment of history.