Public Lectures

Every Mellon School program, evening public lectures presented by guest speakers are free and open to the public. Public lectures are generously supported by the English Department's Spencer Fund.

Please email thschool[at] for more info.

2021 Mellon School  Virtual Lectures
"The State of the Field"

Tuesday, June 1: Derek Miller (Harvard University), "Big Theater"
Thursday, June 3: Namwali Serpell (Harvard University), "Notes on Reading"
Tuesday, June 8: Rita Felski (University of Virginia), "Hooked: Art and Attachment"
Thursday, June 10: Carrie Preston (Boston University), "Performing Borders, Policing Borders"
Tuesday, June 15: Monica Miller (Barnard College), "'On paper, we are parentheses into which someone else has placed us': Black Swedish Childhood and Performances of Race"
Thursday, June 17: Shamell Bell (Harvard University), "Collective Freedom Dreaming"

2019 Mellon School Public Lectures

Monday, June 24: Martin Puchner, Opening Address, "Migrations"
Tuesday, June 25: Patricia Ybarra (Brown University), "Reconsidering Reza Abdoh's Father was a Peculiar Man in the age of Gore Capitalism: A transnational perspective"
Wednesday, June 26: Gabriela Soto Laveaga (Harvard University), "Border Histories: Creation Myths and On-going Tensions Along the U.S.-Mexico Border"
Thursday, June 27: Lizzy Cooper Davis (Emerson College), "Culture and Struggle:” The Organizing History of the Songs of the Civil Rights Movement"
Monday, July 1: Debra Caplan (Baruch College, CUNY), "The Art of Itinerancy: Yiddish Theater as a Prototype for Contemporary Migratory Performers"
Tuesday, July 2: Ju Yon Kim (Harvard University), "Documents of Passage: Migration, Suspicion, and Asian American Performance"
Wednesday, July 3: Helena de Bres (Wellesley University), "The Ethics of Immigration"

2018 Mellon School Public Lectures
"Public Humanities"

Monday, June 11: Martin Puchner (Harvard University), Opening Address: "Public Humanities"
Tuesday, June 12: P. Carl (Emerson College): "Watching Angels in America as a White Man"
Wednesday, June 13: Sarah Bay-Cheng (Bowdoin College): "The Performance is Public: Social Media, Audiences, and the Ethics of Digital Space"
Thursday, June 14: Stephen Greenblatt (Harvard University): "Janus-Faced Shakespeare"
Monday, June 18: Alexis Soloski (New York Times): "'You Must Change Your Life': On Mediocrity, Excellence, and Cats"
Tuesday, June 19: Luke Menand (Harvard University): "Writers and Their Publics"
Wednesday, June 20: D. Graham Burnett (Princeton University): "Reading, Looking, Making: Experiments in Sustained Eludication*"

2017 Mellon School Public Lectures
"Research, Pedagogy, Activism"

Martin Puchner (Harvard University), Opening Address: "Research, Pedagogy, Activism"
Elaine Scarry (Harvard University), "Consent and the Body in Theatre"
Harvey Young (Northwestern University), "Black Death and the ‘Undeadness' of Blackness in Performance"
Carrie Preston (Boston University), “Blackfaced at The Blacks: Audience Participation in Jean Genet’s Lessons on Race and Gender
Doris Sommer (Harvard University), "Ethics of Aesthetics"
Una Chaudhuri (New York University), "CLIMATE LENS"
Bonnie Honig (Brown University), "Greek Tragedy and the Contemporary Politics of Refusal"

2016 Mellon School Public Lectures
Theaters Sacred and Profane"

Martin Puchner (Harvard University), Opening Address: "Theaters Sacred and Profane"
Ann Pellegrini (New York University), "Shadows of Loss: Performing Witness Between the Religious and the Secular" 
Henry Bial (University of Kansas), "Broadway and Blasphemy" 
Marvin Carlson (CUNY Graduate Center), "The Iranian Ta’zieh—Islam’s Major Religious Drama"
Emily Wilson (University of Pennsylvania), "How Religious was Greek Tragedy?" 
Julia Lupton (UC Irvine), "Shakespearean Theaters of Post-Secularism" 
Sarah Beckwith (Duke University), "King Lear and the Avoidance of Charity" 

2015 Mellon School Public Lectures
"What Gets Performed? The Life of the Dramatic Repertoire"

Martin Puchner (Harvard University), "What Gets Performed"
Sharon Marcus (Columbia University), "Repertory and Merit"
Claire Conceison (Duke University and MIT), "U.S. and/vs China: Canon and Repertoire"
Marc Robinson (Yale University), "Pieces: Excavating American Experimental Theater"
Matthew Wilson Smith (Stanford University), "Not I: In Praise of the Repertoire"
Diana Taylor (New York University), "Archiving the Live"

2014 Mellon School Public Lectures
"Locations of Theater"

Martin Puchner (Harvard University), "Locations of Theater"
Sarah Bay-Cheng (SUNY-Buffalo), "(Dis) Locative Media: Performance and Mobile Technologies"
Seth Harrison & Ariane Lourie Harrison (Harrison Atelier, Yale School of Architecture), "Why the Posthuman is Performed"
David Levine (Bard College Berlin), "Vanishing"
Mike Pearson (Aberystwyth University), "Reciprocity, Conflict, Indifference: Relationships Between Performance and Its Sites"
Heike Roms (Aberystwyth University), "In Search of Lost Place: Location the History of Performance"
Elinor Fuchs (Yale University), "Places of Theatrical Imagination"

2013 Mellon School Public Lectures
"World Theater"

Martin Puchner (Harvard University), "World Theater"
David Savran (CUNY Graduate Center), "Trafficking in National Brands: Notes on the Political Economy of Theatre"
Tore Rem (University of Oslo), "'The Provincial of Provincials': Ibsen and World Theatre"
Aparna Dharwadker (University of Wisconsin - Madison), "The Strains of Modernity: Recursiveness, Multilingual Literacy, and the End of Commerce"
Christopher Balme (Ludwig Maximilian University), "Conceptualizing Global Theater History"
Elin Diamond (Rutgers University), "World Theater and the Question of Tragedy"
Jon McKenzie (University of Wisconsin - Madison), "DesignLab, Smart Media, and Performative Scholarship"

2012 Mellon School Public Lectures
"Theater, Theory, Philosophy"

Martin Puchner (Harvard University), "Theater and Philosophy"
David J. Levin (University of Chicago), "Choreographer's Opera? Bodies, Voices, and Meaning in Pina Bausch's Production of Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice"
Tracy C. Davis (Northwestern University), "Spectatorship's Sexual Differentiation: From Liberal Individualism to Relationalist Subjecthood"
Henry S. Turner (Rutgers University), "Shakespeare and Company: Theatricality, Corporations, Political Philosophy"
Freddie Rokem (Tel Aviv University), "The Truth is Concrete: Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin's Summer in Svendborn, 1934"
Dieter Thomä (St. Gallen University), "The Dangerous Actor: Diderot & Company"
David Herskovits (Target Margin Theater), "I Wasn't There: Plato's Extraordinary, Legendary, Stupendous Dinner Party" and David Greenspan (Performer), The Argument, a play by David Greenspan, Lecture and Performance

2011-2012 Academic Year

David Levine, The 2012 Spencer Lecture on Drama (co-sponsored with Harvard University Department of English)

2011 Mellon School Public Lectures
"Theater Among the Other Arts"

Martin Puchner (Harvard University), "Theater Among the Other Arts"
Nicholas Ridout (Queen Mary, University of London), "'I am an actor. I am sincere': amateur theater and amateur politics in Jean-Luc Godard's La Chinoise"
Shannon Jackson (UC Berkeley), "Theaters and Galleries: Medium-Specificity and Cross-Media Performance"
Joseph Roach (Yale University), "A New Poetics: Performance Studies and the Research University"
Toril Moi (Duke University), "19th Century Theater and Painting: The Case of Ibsen" (No video available)
Laurence Senelick (Tufts University), "The Offenbach Century"
Lydia Goehr (Columbia University), "Contesting Art(s) at the Opera, or Painting the Red Sea Red" (No video available)