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.
Dawn Tracey Brandes received her BA in Theatre from the University of King's College/Dalhousie University, and her MA in Drama from the University of Alberta. Her dissertation explores the perceived “life” of the puppet in contemporary theatre through the lens of the phenomenology of consciousness. Dawn is the recipient of a Doctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada. She is currently a Teaching Fellow in the Foundation Year Programme at the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Shannon Fitzsimons received her BA in Theatre from Hamilton College. Her dissertation chronicles the new play development practices of Chicago ensemble-based theatres. Shannon is currently the Campus Engagement Specialist at University Musical Society, the arts presenting organization at the University of Michigan; she is also a professional dramaturg and has worked with theatres around the country.
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. 
Bethany Hughes earned a BA in Musical Theatre and English/Drama from Friends University in Wichita, Kansas and an MA in Drama from the University of Oklahoma. Her research interests include the ethics of performance and theatrical process, Native American performance, and musical theatre.
Elizabeth Bradley Hunter earned a BA in English and Psychology at the University of Michigan,and an MFA in Dramaturgy from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Her dissertation analyzes immersivity and interactivity in contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare in the US. Elizabeth is a Northwestern Leadership Fellow, a Segal Design Fellow, a Classics Cluster Mellon Fellow, and the Assistant Chair of Jones Fine and Performing Arts Residential College. She is also leading a development team to build a video game adaptation of Macbeth:
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.
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.
Lizzie Leopold received her BFA in Dance from the University of Michigan and her MA in Performance Studies from New York University. Her dissertation project looks at the buying and selling of concert dance in order to describe a global marketplace for dance repertoire. She is the Artistic Director of the modern dance company the Leopold Group.
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.
Elliot Gordon Mercer received his BA in Performing Arts from the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals (LEAP) Program at St. Mary's College of California and his MA 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.
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 Overbeke received her BA in Theatre and English at Wesleyan University. She is affiliated with the Jewish Studies cluster, and her current research interests include female Jewish comedians and autobiographical performance among marginalized populations.

  Tara Rodman received her BA in Theatre and English from Yale University. Her dissertation focuses on the circulation of modernist performance between Japan, Europe, and the U.S.

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.

Matthew Bent received his BA in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick (UK), and his MA from Queen Mary, University of London. Recent research topics include the Shiraz Arts Festival, theories of the avant-garde, and landscape aesthetics. Matt will be participating in the Middle East and North African Studies 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Feldmeyer received her BA and MA in Theatre from Miami University where she served as adjunct instructor of theatre. Her research interests in the relationship between constructions of childhood, wartime propaganda, and imaginative play were sparked by her time as Resident Stage Manager at Town Hall Children’s Theatre. Her adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan explores the creation and evolution of the iconic myth through the words of its famous author - derived from his journals, letters, and archive. She is the president of Northwestern’s Graduate Improv Team, SPG.

Skye Geerts-Strauss earned her B.A. in Theatre through the Honors Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and her M.A. in Performance Studies from Queens University, Belfast (Northern Ireland) as a Rotary Scholar. She came into the program after working in costume design and technology in Chicago, and she developed an adjacent interest in puppetry while on campus. Her current research focuses on how costume is designed and built for modern spectacle performance, drawing on materiality, puppet & object theory, and design theory to help translate artistic work and practice into thoughtful scholarship. When she is not on campus, she can often be found upside down at the circus.

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.

Rachel Merrill Moss holds a BA in Theatre from University of California, Santa Cruz and an MA in Theatre History and Criticism from Brooklyn College, City University of New York. Her research is an examination of the relationship between interwar Jewish and Polish culture in Poland, via theatrical performance, and the post-Communist re-materialization of Jewish cultural performance that is ongoing throughout contemporary Poland. Rachel is affiliated with the Jewish Studies cluster and the Buffett Institute Russian and Eastern European Studies working group.

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.

Tova Markenson received a BA in English from Carleton College. Her dissertation traces performances of Jewish prostitution in early twentieth century Buenos Aires and clarifes the Argentine Yiddish theatre’s role in intra-ethnic conflict surrounding the transnational sex trade. As a director and a dramaturg, connecting theatre and community motivates her work.

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:

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.

Keary Watts received his B.A. in History from Auburn University (‘14) and his A.M. in Theatre and Performance Studies from Washington University in St. Louis (‘16). He also completed a graduate certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at WUSTL. As a director, he is interested in staging performances that interrogate accepted historical narratives. As a historian, his interests foreground the long, brutal, and subsisting legacy of American chattel slavery. He looks to the methodological possibilities within the critical concept of “performance” to imagine ways to rethink hotly debated historiographic trends within slavery studies, both how to define “American slavery” and to interrogate its boundaries. He hopes to contribute to a body of scholarship that imagines historical persons and contemporary playwrights and performers as historiographers, using dramatic literature and performance to represent American history in ways that forge an awareness of the living relationship that we share in our collective histories.