Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. Disability Studies. Mad Studies.

Mad Memory :

Disability and Performance After Institutionalization

My book project, Mad Memory: Performance and Disability After Institutionalization, analyzes performances mounted on the grounds of Oregon State Hospital as an embodied record of mad and disability cultural memory. Through a combination of historical research and performance analysis, I investigate a range of practices mounted from 1883 to the present: vaudeville theater, social dances, documentary photography, film performance, museum curation, and memorial design. Taken together, the corporeal counter-archive I assemble transforms psychiatric institutionalization from discrete event to contiguous process—one inextricably intertwined with the operations of colonialism and empire. By bringing its chosen fields into closer methodological conversation, Mad Memory’s use of performance research methods opens new avenues for historians grappling with the limits of mad and disability archives, all while uncovering minoritarian performance cultures underrepresented in theatre, dance, and performance studies.

Research for Mad Memory was conducted through generous support from The American Theatre and Drama Society, the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation/Institute for Citizens and Scholars, and the University of Michigan President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

Recent Publications

I believe that scholarship should be available to everyone.
If you are interested in any of my publications but are unable to access them online, I invite you to contact me.

Cover for Identity, Culture, and the Science Performance
Cover for The International Review of Qualitative Research
Cover for Theatre Topics

“Staging the Mad Past: Performance, Criticism, and Historiography in
Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
In in Identity Culture and the Science Performance Volume 2: From the Curious to the Quantum
edited by Vivian Appler and Meredith Conti. Bloomsbury (2023): 36-54.

“Contesting the Clinic: Shifting Performatives on the Bipolar Spectrum.”
International Review of Qualitative Research 12.2 (2019): 132-46.

“Loving Cohorts: Tending to the Graduate Student Body,”
Theatre Topics 29.2 (2019): 169-76.
Co-authored with Michael Love, siri gurudev, Kristin Perkins, and Mason Rosenthal.

A scan of archival material reading "Keeping Records on Patients a 'Must'"

Recent and Upcoming Presentations

Disability/Performance: Beyond Catastrophic Embodiment, a working session for the American Society for Theatre Research’s 2022 annual meeting. Co-convened with Lindsey Barr and Caitlin Marshall, this working session brings together scholars who approach disability performance as a site for creative worldmaking. In addition to offering participants time and resources in support of their projects, Disability/Performance is also interested in querying who we understand to be within the reach of disability politics–and to what end. Responding to feminist-of-color disability studies calls to reimagine our scholarly genealogies, we aim to trace a more capacious lineage for disability performance scholarship, one that merges disability studies with Black studies, Indigenous studies, Latinx studies, Asian studies, postcolonial theory, queer and trans theory, and feminist theory, among others, to consider manifestations of physical and mental precarity in a range of settings.

In addition to co-convening the working session, I’ll also share “Mad Embodiment, Mad Memory: Performance Interventions in Psychiatric Archives,” a paper that uses performance research methods to unearth mad and disability ancestors from the material remains of state hospitals.

[Performed Anatopias]: Ecological + Archaeological Im/possibilities in Contemporary Performance, a panel for the Mid-America Theatre Conference Theatre History Symposium, with Angenette Spalink and kt shorb. I’ll present “Recovery in Ruins: Unearthing Mad-Crip Ancestors from the Archives of State Hospital Performance,” a paper that explores the way people held in state hospitals in the postwar era used performance to resist medical incarceration. I developed my argument for this presentation through my work on access/embodiment, a Practice as Research project developed in partnership with choreographer Molly Roy.