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Tracy C. Davis

Ethel M. Barber Professor of Performing Arts; Professor of English and Theatre

Ph.D. University of Warwick
Curriculum Vitae
  • 847-491-3138
  • 70 Arts Circle Dr, 5-173
  • Office Hours: By appointment; please email to set up a meeting


Tracy C. Davis, Barber Professor of Performing Arts and Professor of Theatre and English specializes in 19th-century British theatre history, gender and theatre, and performance theory. She regularly teaches courses on 19th-century culture, theatre history, and historiography. Her current work is on mid-19th-century liberalism.

view Mentorship Philosophy

Teaching and Research posts held at:

University of Cologne, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (Munich) Centre for Advanced Studies, John Rylands Research Institute at the University of Manchester, University of Malta, Harvard University, University of Glasgow, Bristol University, Queen's University (Kingston), University of Calgary, Queen Mary University London.

Series Editor:

  • Theatre and Performance Theory - General Editor, Cambridge University Press.
  • Transnational Theatre Histories - Co-Editor, Palgrave
  • Cultural History of Theatre - General Editor, Bloomsbury UK

Editorial Boards:

  • Associate Editor, Theatre Journal
  • Editorial Board, Theatre Research in Canada
  • Editorial Board, Theatre Survey
  • Contributing Editor, TDR: The Drama Review
  • Honorary Advisory Editor, New Theatre Quarterly

Selected Academic Awards, Honors, and Research Grants:

  • 1990-91
    • Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellowship, Harvard University
  • 1994-95
    • American Philosophical Society Research Grant
  • 1995
    • National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship
  • 2000
    • George Freedley Memorial Award (Theatre Library Association) representing excellence in writing on live theatre
  • 2004
    • Clarence Ver Steeg Graduate Faculty Award (Northwestern University)
  • 2005
    • Distinguished Scholar's Prize (American Society for Theatre Research)
  • 2007
    • Lane Humanities Institute Teaching Professor
  • 2007-08
    • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow, Huntington Library
  • 2008-09
    • Stanley J. Kahrl Fellowship in Theatre History, Houghton Library
  • 2016-18
    • Alexander von Humboldt Research Award, University of Cologne
  • 2020-21
    • Kaplan Institute for the Humanities Faculty Fellowship
    • Virtual Global Research Connection Grant, Buffett Institute
  • 2021-22
    • National Science Foundation (GEOPATHS pilot grant)

Works in Progress

  • The Cambridge Guide to Mixed Methods Research for Theatre and Performance Studies (co-edited with Paul Rae). In theatre and performance studies, while what is researched and why are widely understood, much less critical attention has been paid to how research in this broad field is or could be done. This volume will rectify the paucity of methodological reflection by offering a conceptual basis on which methods can be selected, combined, and the resulting materials interpreted. It is organised organically according to the stages of research: planning, doing, and reflecting on findings.
  • Activist Repertoire: Liberal Lives, Victorian Performances. Two generations of the scrappily educated Thompson-Chesson family demonstrate how utilizing the levers of democracy—the right to gather, free speech, petitions, and lobbying—deployed performance acumen to improve oratory, manage meetings, and incrementally impress the populace in order to create, promulgate, and communicate the stakes of successful mass movements. Their work from the 1830s-1880s put them at the hub of every transnational and national cause in these formative years of conceiving human rights.

Areas of Teaching and Research

19th-C British theatre history; historiography; Liberalism; economics and business history of theatre; performance theory; gender and theatre; research methodology, museum studies; Cold War studies; decolonizing theatre repertoires; theories of comedy


Victorian, Gender Studies, Theatre & Drama


Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance Historiography
Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance Historiography (co-edited with Peter W. Marx, Routledge, 2021)
Uncle Tom's Cabins: The Transnational History of America's Most Mutable Book
Uncle Tom's Cabins: The Transnational History of America's Most Mutable Book (co-edited with Stefka Mihaylova, U. Michigan Press, 2018)
A Cultural History of Theatre, 6 vols.
A Cultural History of Theatre, 6 vols. (co-edited with C. B. Balme, Bloomsbury, 2017)
The Cambridge Companion to Performance Studies
The Cambridge Companion to Performance Studies (Cambridge University Press, 2008)
The Performing Century: Nineteenth-Century Theatres History
The Performing Century: Nineteenth-Century Theatres History (co-edited with Peter Holland, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)
Considering Calamity: Methods for Performance Research
Considering Calamity: Methods for Performance Research (with Linda Ben-Zvi, Tel Aviv: Assaph Books, 2007)
Theatricality (co-edited with Thomas Postlewait, Cambridge University Press, 2004)
The Economics of the British Stage, 1800-1914
The Economics of the British Stage, 1800-1914 (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
Women and Playwriting in Nineteenth-Century Britain
Women and Playwriting in Nineteenth-Century Britain (co-edited with Ellen Donkin, Cambridge University Press, 1999)

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