Theater Historiography

Critical Interventions
Henry Bial and Scott Magelssen, editors
Fresh approaches to theater historiography and performance studies that bring the two fields productively together


How should theater history be practiced? Some scholars have argued that the emerging discipline of performance studies should replace theater history altogether, while traditional theater historians have sometimes rejected performance studies analyses as unsatisfactorily diffuse and less than rigorous. Theater Historiography: Critical Interventions draws freely on the methods and terminologies of both disciplines, showing that the critical intersection between theater history and performance studies is both desirable and inevitable. The book's original essays, based on innovative and compelling research by 23 contributors, probe key methodological questions about interdisciplinarity, postcolonialism, the archive, and digital technology.

"Theater Historiography: Critical Interventions is an important collection. The essays on theater history are models of meticulous research engaged through rigorous theorizing and analysis; they often yield striking new insights into subjects we might think we already know well. Other essays provide new perspectives on how to approach theater and performance, and are passionate calls to reconsider how we engage objects of study. The larger cultural contexts and analyses in the section 'Theatre History's Discipline' should prove invaluable for furthering important conversations about the field."
—Rhonda Blair, Southern Methodist University

"In this exciting collection, theater historiography becomes a veritable hotbed in which theater history and performance studies productively, even seamlessly, intertwine. These richly diverse yet cogently edited essays incisively address the dynamic methodological, political, and pedagogical challenges of reading past performances in the present. Contributors honor their teachers with fresh interventions and a critically engaged passion for doing theater history that will inspire both established and emerging generations of scholars."
—Kim Marra, University of Iowa

Henry Bial is Associate Professor of Theater at the University of Kansas.

Scott Magelssen is Associate Professor of Theater and Film at Bowling Green State University.

Praise / Awards

  • "A major collection that brings together new voices in the field in provocative ways . . . its range and breadth is impressive, and its usefulness in the classroom undeniable."
    —Ric Knowles, University of Guelph

  • "Redraws 'theater history' in fiercely imaginative, inspired, and provocative ways."
    —Harley Erdman, University of Massachusetts

  • "Theater Historiography, Critical Interventions is a brilliant, inspiring, and methodologically indispensable achievement."
    —Aneta Bialecka, e-Journal fur Wissenschaftliche Rezensionen

Look Inside

Copyright © 2010, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 312pp.
  • 8 B&W Illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2010
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07133-3

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  • $94.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2010
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05133-5

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  • $29.95 U.S.


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  • theatre historiography, theater history, theatre history, performance studies, methodology, discipline, pedagogy, archive