Completed Dissertations (1990-2012)

Dissertation Titles [pdf]

IPTD Doctoral Students

Lauren Beck received her BA in Theatre from the University of California, San Diego and her MA from San Diego State University. Her dissertation explores how mobile sound works - such as audio tours, augmented sound games, and soundwalks - blur the boundaries between performance and spectatorship and between real and fictional space by using a theatrical frame of sound. She is the Assistant Master at Ayers Residential College of Commerce and Industry.

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 is focused on the intersection of performance and historical memory, with projects examining the work of Anna Deavere Smith, the theatrical life of George Washington, and is currently focused on museums and archives. 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 interests include theatrical adaptation and aesthetic conceits, particularly as they incorporate sound and music. 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). She is affiliated with the Gender and Sexuality Cluster and is the recipient of a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship. Her current research interests focus on the performance of gender and race on the American popular theatre stage between the 1880s and the 1930s.

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 a BA in English and Theatre at Rice University and an MA in Theatre History and Dramaturgy at the University of Houston. Originally from Barcelona, she considers constructions of Catalan identity through theatre, spectacle, and public protest after the end of the Franco dictatorship in her dissertation. Other research interests include sports and spectacles – including the Olympic Games and Formula 1.

Jessica Hinds-Bond received her BFA in Theatre Design and Technology from Auburn University and her MA in Theatre from Villanova University. Her dissertation focuses on post-Soviet Russian drama and its engagement with the Russian literary canon.

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. She is affiliated with Northwestern's British Studies Graduate Cluster and her research interests include the influence of sudden political systemic shifts upon formal developments in British playwriting across a range of periods, mid-20th-century British commercial theatre, queer theatre and, as a practitioner, bicultural theatre practices.

Bethany Hughes holds a BA in Musical Theatre and English/Drama (Friends University) and an MA in Drama (University of Oklahoma). Her research on Native American representation in theatrical performance and the performance of federal Indian law is supported by a Ford Foundation Fellowship and Northwestern’s Presidential Fellowship. As co-founder of the Colloquium on Indigeneity and Native American Studies, Hughes has advocated for the inclusion of and investment in Native American Studies and Native American student recruitment at Northwestern. Her research interests include race, performance, law, musical theatre, and Native American/First Nations plays and playwrights.

E. B. Hunter’s research synthesizes theatre studies and new media studies to examine how cultural institutions engage digital-age live audiences in canonical cultural texts and the arts. Her dissertation analyzes four contemporary immersive Shakespeare productions in order to map a new critical model of spectatorship. She is also the founder of Fabula(b), a theatre and computational research lab at Northwestern, where her projects include Bitter Wind, a mixed reality hologram adaptation of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon for Microsoft’s HoloLens and Something Wicked, a 2D side-scroller combat version of Macbeth. She holds an MFA in dramaturgy from Columbia University and a BA in English from the University of Michigan.

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 Interdisciplinary Theatre and Drama from Northwestern University. Her research on twentieth-century Argentine Yiddish theatre traces border-crossing performances of Jewish prostitution on stage, in the auditorium, and in the courtroom. Tova holds a Mellon Cluster Fellowship in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and is also affiliated with the Jewish Studies Cluster. As a teacher, director, and dramaturg, building community through performance motivates her work.

Elliot Gordon Mercer is a Marilyn Yarbrough Dissertation Fellow in the department of Dance, Drama, and Film at Kenyon College. He received his B.A. in Performing Arts from the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals (LEAP) Program at St. Mary's College of California and an M.A. in Performance Studies from NYU. Elliot is a dance notator, trained in both Labanotation and Benesh Movement Notation. His research focuses on documentary practices in dance, choreographic legacy plans, and the acquisition of dance works by museums.

Rachel Merrill Moss holds a BA in Theatre from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MA in Theatre History and Criticism from Brooklyn College, City University of New York. Her dissertation research examines Yiddish and Polish performances of Jewishness and cultural permeation on Polish stages and streets from interwar to post-Soviet periods.  Rachel is affiliated with the Jewish Studies cluster and the Buffett Institute Russian and Eastern European Studies working group.

Ira S. Murfin holds a BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU and an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His dissertation examines talk as a performance strategy employed by key artists in the post-1960s American avant-garde. Ira is a Chicago Shakespeare Theater Pre-Amble Scholar and the Performance Editor for the literary journal Requited. He makes solo and collaborative performance work as a theatre artist and writer in Chicago.


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:

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 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and her M.A. in Performance Studies from Queens University, Belfast (Northern Ireland) as a Rotary Scholar.  Her proposed dissertation project uses puppetry theory, and adjacent object oriented ontologies, to examine the role of design and performing objects in devising processes for spectacular performance.  When she is not on campus, she can often be found building magical things or hanging upside down at the circus.

Elizabeth Stromsness received her B.S. from Columbia International University, studied musical theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and received her MFA in Theatre Performance and Pedagogy from Texas Tech University. Her dissertation explores the effective and affective potential of small group theatrical collaborations across lines of identity and power difference. She is currently spending her fellowship in New Orleans doing fieldwork with local theatre companies.

Amy Swanson holds a B.F.A. in dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her dissertation research explores the intersection of twenty-first-century cultural production in postcolonies and continued Western material and intellectual dominance through the lens of contemporary dance in Senegal. Amy is a recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship.

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 research interests include collective memory and trauma, modern German language theatre, post-Katrina New Orleans theatre and performance, and musical theatre. He has worked professionally as an actor and director, and has taught and extensively directed children’s theatre. He especially enjoys directing and dramaturging new plays.

Keary Watts is a second-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. He maintains a firm curiosity with theatrical strategies deployed to stage or perform history. His academic interests are primarily related to the history of modern American theatre and performance, race and performance, cultural memory and embodiment, queer performance aesthetics and corporate citizenship, and Marxist studies.

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.