My research centers upon the theoretical, historical and literary dynamics of 20th century American Theatre and Cinema, essentially the give and take, tension and crosspollination across the forms. My research, located on these fault lines of Theatre and Cinema, has produced original theories and perspectives on the properties of these differing media.
The Late Work of Sam Shepard was published by Methuen-Bloomsbury. In the book, I argue that to fully analyze an artist, one must not only consider the works that are produced following their presumed artistic ‘peak.’ It also claims that one must deconstruct the artist’s public identity and how it circulates through various media to truly analyze the work. From this publication, I have continued to contribute to the scholarship on Sam Shepard, contributing a chapter on Shepard to the collection Visions of Tragedy of Modern American Tragedy and an essay in New Perspectives in Edward Albee Studies. I have also served as a book and peer reviewer for other works associated with Shepard and American Drama.
The follow-up project is a volume for which I have edited and contributed. Entitled Wes Craven: Interviews, published in late 2019 from The University Press of Mississippi, the book collects more than three decades worth of interviews with the filmmaker Wes Craven. The book, centering on Craven, known as the master of horror and suspense behind A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, will serve as a valuable resource for scholars. It also argues for Craven’s inclusion as one of the major film directors of post-World War II American cinema. It not only features an original introduction by myself, it includes numerous unpublished interviews.
Potential future projects include an analysis of Theatre/Film director Robert Altman’s productions, both on screen and the stage and a book on the male playwrights who emerged in the generation following Sam Shepard and David Mamet.
Though I am actively engaged in publishing, I also never stray too far from archival work. For my first book, I visited a variety of archives across the nation. At the same time, I was conducting other archival work at The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theatre Research. Indeed, for the WCFT I helped to create an online archive of 19th century film posters. This digital archive, which can be accessed by scholars from around the world, serves as a storehouse of visual ephemera that is key for historians researching popular performance in the 1800s. I have been gifted a large collection of Playbills from the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans. Dating from the 1970s to the 1990s, this private collection is an important gathering of materials documenting performances in New Orleans and is given even more significance by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina which devastated the building and its holdings. Currently, I am researching funding to scan these valuable materials. I also recently received USRG funding for archival work at The University of Chicago to research theatre performances staged by labor unions.
Beyond publications and archival work, I have been an active participant in scholarly conferences. Since the late 1990s, I have steadily presented at academic conferences, yet many of my ambitions have been hampered by funding. That said, I have chaired and presented at international and national conferences, such as ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education), PCA/ACA (Popular Culture Association/American Culture association) and ASTR (American Society for Theatre Research). Conferences serve as a unique locus of perspectives and new research, so scholars must attend and participate as creators of knowledge and research to participate in the necessary discourse.
Teaching, in my perspective, cannot be separated from research. As a result, my research is integrated into my teaching, while I challenge my students to do their own original research in classes. A stereotype of a professor is one who ‘professes’ to students in a cloistered setting. I consciously work against that stereotype as a researcher. Indeed, my research is to contribute to knowledge in the field, yet it is my ethical responsibility to share my research with my students as well as the university community and the public. I have been able to do this as an invited speaker to McCain Conversations, pre-show talks at the Manhattan Arts Center and as a university dramaturg, coordinating not only pre-show presentations, but also post-show discussions. Research must not be relegated to books and obscure journals, but must be integrated into one’s teaching and shared with the broader public. In all, my research ideally serves my peer scholars, my students and the local community.