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PCA Faculty at the 2015 Mellon Summer School for Theatre and Performance Research

Visiting PCA faculty member Sebastian Trainor was one of thirty emerging theatre researchers invited to participate this past June in the 2015 Mellon Summer School for Theatre and Performance Research at Harvard University.

The Mellon School was founded at Harvard in 2010 to create an extended forum in which theatre and performance studies scholars can gather to exchange ideas and collectively investigate a selected theme. The program is designed for junior faculty who study theatre and performance, offering them the opportunity to learn from leading scholars in the field in an intensive two-week seminar. Thanks to a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, tuition is free for all accepted participants.

The program theme for 2015 was “What Gets Performed? The Life of the Dramatic Repertoire.” At the Mellon School, participants are divided into multiple seminar groups, with each group investigating the theme according to its own inclinations. Trainor joined the class led by senior theatre scholar Martin Puchner (Harvard University). In its daily meetings, this class examined the rise and fall of dramatic literature traditions, and the changing function of theater as an institution. While pursuing these topics, class members theorized about how global canons emerge, evolve, and function — and they examined the ways in which newer theatrical institutions such as galleries and museums influence what gets performed.
Every evening the Mellon School sponsored a lecture related to the topic “What Gets Performed?” given by an international faculty of distinguished theatre and performance scholars. Speakers for 2015 included Sharon Marcus (Columbia), Claire Conceison (Duke), Marc Robinson (Yale), Heather Nathans (Tufts), Derek Miller (Harvard), Magda Romanska (Emerson College), Matthew Wilson Smith (Stanford), Andrew Sofer (Boston College), and Diana Taylor (NYU).

In addition to the seminars and the evening lectures, Mellon School participants also take part in daily writing workshops focused on turning their dissertations into books. Here, Trainor began the process of transforming his earlier work on  “secret histories” of the Parisian avant-garde theatre of the 1890s into a new historiographical study that challenges a number of persistent myths concerning this era of our theatrical past.