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William B. Worthen

William B. Worthen

Interweaving Performance Cultures

Fellow 2008/09, 2010/11, 2012/13

William B. Worthen is the Alice Brady Pels Professor in the Arts, Chair of the Department of Theatre at Barnard College, Columbia University, and Co-Chair of the PhD Program in Theatre at Columbia. His work ranges across the history and theory of modern performance, modern drama, and contemporary Shakespeare performance. He is the author of six books, most recently Print and the Poetics of Modern Drama (2005) and Drama: Between Poetry and Performance (2010); Shakespeare / Performance / Studies, written as a Fellow, is forthcoming. He is the editor or coeditor of several influential critical anthologies, as well as of widely-used collections of drama; he is past editor of Theatre Journal and Modern Drama, and currently serves on the advisory board of Global Shakespeares.

Research Project

Retrotech: Cultures of Liveness in the Digital Era

As Philip Auslander noted over a decade ago, rather than erasing theatre, film, audio, and television created "liveness" as the essential principle distinguishing theatre from recorded media. Theatre is, of course, not one technology but several, and marks the ongoing interplay between technological temporalities. While it's conventional to speak of dramatic performance as a "text to performance" operation, most dramatic performance today involves the interplay not only of a wide variety of texts, but of a wide variety of textual technologies as well: manuscript, print, photocopy, and digital texts represented on a host of media (paper, digital screens) and on a host of platforms (notebooks, printed scripts, laptops, iPads, cellphones). The modern theatre is a site of technological innovation (an environment increasingly controlled and operated through digital communications), and a site for the negotiation of technological cultures and temporalities.

Recommended Publications

  • Hayles, N. K., How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

  • Kirschenbaum, M. G., Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008.

  • Liu, A., The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung