Elizabeth W. Son

Dr. Elizabeth Son is an interdisciplinary scholar of contemporary performance in South Korea and the United States. She teaches courses on theatre and social change; race, gender, and performance; and performance, memory, and violence in U.S. and global contexts. Her first book Embodied Reckonings: “Comfort Women,” Performance, and Transpacific Redress (University of Michigan Press, 2018) examines the political and cultural aspects of contemporary performances in South Korea, Japan, and the United States that have grappled with the history of the “comfort women,” the Japanese military’s euphemism for the sexual enslavement of girls and young women—mostly Korean—in the years before and during World War II. Based on extensive archival and ethnographic research, Embodied Reckonings illuminates how Korean survivors and their supporters have redressed the histories—and erasures—of this sexual violence through protests, tribunals, theatre, and memorial-building projects. Son’s current book project titled Possessing History explores how Korean and Korean American women artists and activists engage with histories of political unrest, militarism, and displacement on the Korean peninsula through site-specific methods. Her articles have appeared in Asian Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, Theater, and e-misférica.

Son’s work has been recognized with national fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fulbright Program, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. She recently received the Florence Howe Award for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship from the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages, an allied organization of the MLA.

She also serves on the executive committee of the American Society for Theatre Research and co-coordinates the Gender & Sexuality Studies Seminar at The Newberry Library. Son is also the program director for the Critical Studies in Theatre and Performance Graduate Cluster and holds courtesy appointments in the Department of Performance Studies, Asian American Studies Program, and the Program in American Studies at Northwestern University.


PhD American Studies, Yale University
MPhil American Literature, University of Cambridge
BA English, Wellesley College

Select Awards and Fellowships

  • Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages, Florence Howe Award for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship (Foreign Language), 2016
  • Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty, 2015
  • URAP Grant, Northwestern University, 2013
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies, Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2010
  • American Society for Theatre Research, Dissertation Research Fellowship, 2008
  • Fulbright Full Grant to Korea, 2000

Undergraduate Courses

  • Performance and Politics in Asia 
  • Performing Asian America
  • War, Gender, and Memory in Asian American Performance 
  • Asian/Black Connections in U.S. Theatre and Performance 
  • Theatre and Social Change 
  • Theatre and Violence 
  • Contemporary Women Playwrights

Graduate courses

  • Performance and Politics in Asia
  • Violence, Memory, and Performance
  • Research Design and Prospectus Writing

Elizabeth W. Son

Associate Professor




70 Arts Circle Drive
Room 5-174
Evanston, IL 60208



Graduate Programs:

IPTD; Performance Studies

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