James Harding

Job title: 
Head of History/Theory; Head of MA/PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies
Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies
Academic Rank: 

James M. Harding is an internationally known scholar whose work focuses on political activism and the arts, the history of experimental theatre, theatre in the 1960s, post 9/11 theatre and performance, the intersection of surveillance and performance, and on performance studies more generally. His most recent monograph is entitled Performance, Transparency and the Cultures of Surveillance (Michigan, 2018). He is the author of three previous monographs: The Ghosts of the Avant-Garde(s)Exorcising Experimental Theatre and Performance (Michigan, 2013), Cutting Performances: Collage Events, Feminist Artists and the American Avant-Garde (Michigan, 2010), and Adorno and "A Writing of the Ruins": Essays on Modern Aesthetics and Anglo-American Literature and Culture (SUNY, 1997).  He has co-edited five anthologies, the most recent of which is entitled The Sixties, Center Stage: Mainstream and Popular Performances in a Turbulent Decade (Michigan, 2017).  His articles have appeared in Performing Arts Journal, TDRPerformance InternationalTheatre JournalTheatre SurveyModern Drama, and PMLA as well as in numerous anthologies. In 2017, Harding received the year’s “Outstand Article Award” from American Theatre in Higher Education for his article “Incendiary Acts and Apocryphal Avant-Gardes: Thích Quảng Ðức, Self-Immolation, and Buddhist Spiritual Vanguardism” (PAJ, 2017). During the 2016-2017 academic year, he was a research fellow at the Freie Universität, Berlin’s International Research Center / “Interweaving Performance Cultures” working on a new monograph tentatively entitled, Performance Beyond the Pale: Radical Acts and Bodies in Extremis.

Harding is proud to be a Maryland alumnus, having completed his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature in 1991 at College Park. Before joining the faculty at Maryland, he was Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Warwick, UK, was twice a Visiting Professor at the Insitut für Theaterwissenschaft at the Freie Universität, Berlin, and was Professor of English at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA.

Education / Training:

  • Ph.D., Comparative Literature, University of Maryland, 1991
  • M.A., English / Comparative Literature, San Diego State University, 1987
  • B.A., German Literature, University of Texas, 1982

Areas of Specialization:

Modern and Contemporary Performance, Experimental Theatre and Performance, History of the Theatrical Avant-Garde, Theatre of the 1960s, Post-9/11 Theatre and Performance, Critical Theory, Performance Studies, and Surveillance Studies.

Professional Affiliations:

  • American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR)
  • Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
  • Performance Studies International (PSi)
  • International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR)
  • Modern Language Association (MLA)

Representative Publications/Research Activities:
Research Grants and Fellowships:
Creative Activities















Performance Beyond the Pale: Radical Acts and Bodies in Extremis (authored). In progress.

Performance, Transparency and the Cultures of Surveillance (authored). Michigan, 2018.

The Ghosts of the Avant-Garde(s): Exorcizing Experimental Theatre and Performance (authored). Michigan, 2013.

Cutting Performances: Collage Events, Feminist Artists and the American Avant-Garde (authored). Michigan, 2010.

Adorno and a Writing of the Ruins: Essays on Modern Aesthetics & Anglo-American Literature and Culture (authored). State University of New York, 1997.













Center-Staging the Sixties: Mainstream and Popular Performances in a Turbulent Decade (co-edited with Cindy Rosenthal). Michigan, 2017.

The Rise of Performance Studies: Rethinking Richard Schechner’s Broad Spectrum (co-edited with Cindy Rosenthal). MacMillan, 2011.

Restaging the Sixties: Radical Theaters and their Legacies (co-edited with Cindy Rosenthal). Michigan, 2006.

Not the Other Avant-Garde: The Transnational Foundations of Avant-Garde Performance (co-edited with John Rouse). Michigan, 2006.



Journal Editor:  Senior Editor of Theatre Survey (2002-2005); Associate Editor of Theatre Survey (2000-2002).

Fellowships: DAAD Guest Professor Fellowship, Freie Universität, Berlin (2010-2011);

Fulbright Research/Teaching Fellowship, Freie Universität, Berlin (2001-2002)