Matthew Bent received his BA in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick, and an MA from Queen Mary, University of London, before coming to Northwestern in 2016. In addition to being a Candidate in IPTD, he is also a Fellow in Middle East and North African studies. His research looks at international performing arts festivals during the 1960s and 1970s, as loci in which myriad forms of modern theatre emerged, as well as being significant nodes in a network of performance-based knowledge production, dissent, and Cold War internationalism. Key among these sites was the Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis, in Iran, which is the main focus of the dissertation. Matthew also writes on contemporary performance, focusing on the politics of theatrical spectatorship, labor, and the place of theatre among contemporary media.
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 Jeanne Ferdinand is a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on the intersections of gender, history, and performance in the creation of cultural narrative and identity. Her current research project explores the influence of performances of southern femininity on historical memory and public policy in the Jim-Crow-era South. Past projects include the effects of Peter Pan on constructions of boyhood in WWI-era Great Britain. 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 holds an MA in Theatre and Drama from Northwestern and a BA and MA in Theatre from Miami University where she also served as adjunct instructor. At Northwestern, she serves as the graduate fellow at Northwestern University Press, a graduate writing fellow at the Graduate Writing Place, an improvisation pedagogy workshop leader for the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching, and an affiliate member of the British Studies Cluster. Laura has presented her research at ASTR, ATHE, and MATC, and she is the recipient of research fellowships from Northwestern University, Emory University, and the University of Georgia.
Jessica Friedman received a BA in Ethnic and Racial Studies from Columbia University and has completed graduate studies in Theatre and Dance at UC San Diego. Her research interrogates the intersection of dancing Blackness, dancing Jewishness, and counter-hegemonic virtuosity in mid-twentieth century American modern dance. She is the recipient of a Dance Studies Association Selma Jeanne Cohen award for excellence in research and writing, as well as research fellowships from the New York Public Library and the 92nd Street YM-YWHA.
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 examines contemporary South Korean artistic and activist performances in service of democracy. Her dissertation, titled “Embodying Democracies: The Gwangju Uprising and the Politics of Mourning, 1980 – 2020,” explores the role of performance in dismantling oppressive politics. It argues that a society becomes more democratic when more deaths are grieved in public rather than jettisoned from social and cultural memories. Her work has been recognized by the Buffett Institute of Global Studies. She is also the recipient of the Social Science Research Council’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2019). Her book chapter, titled “Reckoning with Historical Conflicts in East Asian Theatre Festivals: The BeSeTo Theatre Festival and the Gwangju Media Arts Festival,” is forthcoming in Cambridge Companion to International Theatre Festivals (2021). Her teaching experience includes Asian American Theatre (primary instructor, 2018).
Claudia Kinahan holds a BA in Drama and Theatre Studies from Trinity College- the University of Dublin, where she was awarded a gold medal upon graduation. Her doctoral research examines artificial intelligence through the lens of performance studies; particularly the performative aspects of artificially intelligent humanoids. She maintains an artistic practice and has performed and directed across numerous Irish stages. As a playwright, her second play has been commissioned by a leading Irish theatre and will be produced in December 2019. You can find out more about her work here: claudiakinahantheatre.com
Liz Laurie received her BA in Classical Civilization from New York University and an MA in Theatre from Hunter College. Her dissertation project explores representations of gender and sexuality in cosplay at fan conventions in the United States. Her research interests include popular culture, digital humanities, and fan practice as performance. She is affiliated with the Gender and Sexuality Cluster and is a fellow at Northwestern’s The Writing Place.
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.
C. Tova Markenson received a BA in English from Carleton College and an MA in Theatre and Drama from Northwestern University. Her dissertation on Argentinean 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 Sexualities Project at Northwestern, and Northwestern’s Buffet Institute for Global Studies. Tova currently holds dissertation fellowships from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and Northwestern’s Crown Center for Jewish and Israel Studies, and is a member of the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project. As a teacher, dramaturg, and director, she is passionate about performance’s power to cultivate embodied presence.
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. 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, ASEEES, BASEES, and the Polish-Jewish Studies Working Group and has been published in the Journal of American Drama and Theatre.
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 looks at post-Katrina New Orleans and the ways in which performance serves as a critical site for navigating community and civic identity in the wake of mass trauma. 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.