Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Theater and Performance Studies, Stanford University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2012
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Drama/Theater and Performance Studies, Northwestern University
Technological Wonder: The Theatrical Fashioning of Modern Scientific Knowledge, 1838-1905

What was the impact of social and cultural modes of transmission upon the creation of modern scientific knowledge? My dissertation investigates the influence of nineteenth-century public performance on the communication and utilization of scientific and technological knowledge. The popular performance culture of Victorian Britain was a vital center of communication, disseminating ideas, theories, and critiques while creating a vital sphere of social, cultural, and political discussion (Newey and Richards 2008; Davis 2009). While theatre historians have theorized widely about the relevance and vitality of popular theatre practice upon culture, the relationship between theatrical performance and science and technology remain under-researched. What are the implications of scientific lectures, mechanical magic shows, and spectacular technological pantomimes? Bringing together theatre history and the history of science and technology, I contend that from mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, 1838-1905, public performances of science and technologies, ranging from presentations to theatrical performances, were vital arenas for the fashioning of scientific discourses, the shaping of technological utilization, and the dissemination of scientific credibility and legibility. Analyzing institutional and periodical archives through semiotic, phenomenological, and constructivist lenses, my research addresses how public performances created modern scientific knowledge, fashioning a legacy still resonant through the TED talks and public programming today.