PhD Theatre and Performance Studies

The fields of Theatre and Performance Studies require teachers and scholars who can bring substantive research skills to bear on contemporary issues of theatre and performance. The University of Maryland Ph.D. program trains students to cross disciplinary boundaries, pose challenging questions, and combine incisive analytical skills with original research.

The Ph.D. is an interdisciplinary degree that prepares teachers and scholars of theatre and performance studies. The program offers students two interrelated areas of concentration:

  1. History & Theory of Theatre and Drama
  2. Theatre and Performance Studies

Areas in the doctoral program are distinguished by focus. Area studies in the history and theory of drama and theatre focus primarily on developments in Western theatre practice and dramatic literature. Area studies in theatre and performance studies focus on a broad spectrum of international and American performance traditions as seen through a flexible framework of interdisciplinary methodologies. Although points of intersection are inevitable between traditional study of theatre and drama and the evolving field of Performance Studies, the latter is distinguished by its expanded definitions of performance.

Philosophically, theatre history and production are fundamentally interdisciplinary activities that cannot be divorced from literature, art, music, dance, nor fully understood apart from social context and historical moment. Performance Studies is an auxiliary framework that extends this fundamental inter-connectedness to the cutting edge of current scholarship about performance. In essence, Performance Studies defines "performance" more broadly than traditional theatre studies and has, therefore, allowed scholars to use methodologies from fields such as anthropology, ethnomusicology, critical theory, sociology, cultural studies, American Studies, and critical studies race and gender. Using these methodologies, scholars have developed new theories and perspectives about theatrical representation and practice, as well as performance in everyday life. The success of the Ph.D. program rests on its inter-connectedness with related disciplines. The purpose of this Ph.D. program is to educate scholars who can excel in the challenging and increasingly interdisciplinary academic world, bringing substantive research skills to bear on contemporary questions of theatre and performance.

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