All students of theater must learn to read plays as living texts, continuously reinvented through historically and culturally specific practices of theatrical performance. As a teacher, I endeavor not only to help my students grow as scholars and artists but also to broaden their vision of what theater can be. I design my courses to probe the boundaries of theater as an art form, and I select readings that emphasize race, gender, class, and sexual identity as vital themes in the study of theater and performance.
Theater has a paradoxical capacity to highlight human differences while also exposing those differences as constructed and artificial, and this paradox animates my teaching interests in theater history, dramatic literature and criticism, and performance studies.
By using a range of pedagogical techniques—including group projects, student presentations, course blogs, performance exercises, and excursions to see live theater—I strive to foster an inclusive learning environment in which students of all backgrounds and learning styles are encouraged to participate.
Department of English/Theater Program, Colgate University
Department of English/Writing Program, Haverford College
- FSEM 163 - Carnival in Performance from the Acropolis to Mardi Gras
- ENGL 266 - Introduction to Drama
- ENGL 267 - Modern Drama
- ENGL 349 - Global Theater
- ENGL 351 - Boiling Over: Theater and Performance in the American Melting Pot
Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, Brown University
PhD, Theatre and Performance Studies, Brown University, 2012
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
DuComb, Christian. “Staging Violence in Pig Iron Theatre Company’s Anodyne.” Theatre Journal 64.2 (May 2012): 197-211.
DuComb, Christian. “Present-Day Kutiyattam: G. Venu’s Radical and Reactionary Sanskrit Theatre.” TDR: The Drama Review 51.3 (Fall 2007): 98-117. Winning entry, 2006 TDR Student Essay Contest.
Invited Book Chapters
DuComb, Christian. “The Minstrel Wench and the Mummers Wench: A Performance Genealogy.” Festive Performance: Staging Community and Utopia in the Americas. Ed. Rachel Bowditch and Pegge Vissicaro. Chicago: Seagull Books/University of Chicago Press. Forthcoming.
DuComb, Christian. “The Politics of Fetal Display.” The Anatomy of Body Worlds: Critical Essays on the Plastinated Cadavers of Gunther von Hagens. Ed. T. Christine Jespersen, Alicita Rodríguez, and Joseph Star. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009. 176-188.
DuComb, Christian. Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights, by Robin Bernstein. Theatre Journal 65.2 (May 2013): 295-296.
Haunted City: Three Centuries of Racial Impersonation in Philadelphia
Haunted City explores the history of blackface masking and other forms of racial impersonation in Philadelphia—as realized in street performance, festivity, theater, and graphic art—from the late eighteenth century through the present day. The book focuses on select historical moments, such as the advent of the minstrel show in 1842-1843 and the ban on blackface in the Philadelphia Mummers Parade in 1964, when local performances of racial impersonation inflected regional, national, transnational, and global formations of race, gender, class, and ethnicity. Through detailed analyses of performances of racial impersonation at key geographic sites in Philadelphia, such as Walnut Grove and City Hall, Haunted City argues that ghosts can and do appear through performance, materializing and re-presenting aspects of the past that remain stubbornly situated in place. Haunted City treats the performing body as an affective theater of history and memory that makes the multiple times accumulated in a given place simultaneously present, moving across the body as the body moves through the historically saturated fabric of one of the oldest cities in the U.S.
Theater history, dramatic literature, performance studies, parades and street performance
It or Her, devised by Dead Genius Productions, 2006-2007
A Theatrical Rendering of the Modern Life of Karen B, devised by Dead Genius Productions, 2005
Substitution Chart, devised by Dead Genius Productions, 2004
The Lacy Project (staged reading), by Alena Smith, 2012
The Blind, by Maurice Maeterlinck (assistant director), 2007
Apple of Discord, by Alena Smith, 2003
Cipher, by Cory Hinkle, directed by Donya Washington, 2005
Accumulation Process, devised by Rick Henderson, 2005
- American Society for Theatre Research-Cambridge University Press Prize, 2012
- Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Award, Brown University, 2012
- Dissertation Research Fellowship, American Society for Theatre Research, 2010
Short-Term Research Fellowship, Winterthur Museum and Library, 2010
Dissertation Fellowship, Brown University, 2009-2010
Andrew W. Mellon Research Fellowship, Library Company of Philadelphia/Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2009
Graduate Student Essay Award, Theory and Criticism Focus Group, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, 2009
Student Essay Contest Winner, TDR: The Drama Review, 2006
First-Year Graduate Fellowship, Brown University, 2005-2006
Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, Thomas J. Watson Foundation, 2001-2002