Current Session

Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research Summer 2018: Public Humanities

June 11-22, 2018


In an intense two-week course of study, faculty members and graduate students from around the world will convene at Harvard University to explore drama, theater, and performance from various historical and theoretical perspectives. Participants will work with an international faculty of distinguished scholars in one of two daily seminars on overarching theoretical and methodological topics related to the theme. In addition to the daily seminars, the program will include discussions, research workshops, performances, and evening lectures taught by visiting faculty members. Graduate student participants will take part in a writing workshop devoted to their dissertation research, while junior faculty will participate in a workshop focused on turning their dissertations into books. We will also introduce you to the Harvard Theater Collection, the oldest theater collection in the country, and the librarians here are eager to help you research your dissertation or book project while you are at Harvard.

With generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the English Department's Spencer Fund, and Theater, Dance & Media, this summer school and all of its offerings are entirely free to participants. Economical on-campus housing is available for participants. You will also get to explore Boston’s lively theater scene, from the American Repertory Theater to the revived downtown Theater District.


Following up on our 2017 focus on activism, the 2018 Mellon School will explore the public humanities in relation to theater, dance, and performance. Live performance has long been an occasion for thinking about the public: what does it mean to assemble, address, inform, entertain, challenge, and transform the public, as represented by the audience?

The discussion about the public humanities has proceeded by and large without drawing on theater and performance studies. During the 2018 session, we want to ask whether the public nature of our object of study—live performance—should inform our scholarship (and vice versa), and if so, how? Topics will include theater journalism, performance reviews, press releases, and op-eds; social media, publicity, communications, and podcasts; dramaturgy, talk-backs, and practice-as-research; academic "performances" such as books and lectures; theater pamphlets, manifestos, and more.

Our distinguished summer 2018 faculty include:

Sarah Bay-Cheng (Bowdoin College)
D. Graham Burnett (Princeton University)
P. Carl (Emerson College & ArtsEmerson)
Stephen Greenblatt (Harvard University)
Ju Yon Kim (Harvard University)
Luke Menand (Harvard University)
Carrie Preston (Boston University)
Martin Puchner (Harvard University)
Andrew Sofer (Boston College)
Alexis Soloski (The New York Times)


Applications for the 2018 session of the Mellon School are closed. Applications for the 2019 session of the Mellon School will open in late Fall and due March 1, 2019. Please see our Applications page for more information for details about the application process.