Shannon Jackson

Professor, Cyrus and Michele Hadidi Chair in the Humanities

Shannon Jackson is the Cyrus and Michelle Hadidi Professor of Rhetoric and of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies, and former Associate Vice Chancellor for the Arts + Design. Jackson’s research focuses on two overlapping domains: 1) collaborations across visual, performing, and media art forms and 2) the role of the arts in social institutions and in social change. Her most recent books are Back Stages: Essays Across Art, Performance, and Public Life (Northwestern University Press, 2022), and The Human Condition: Media Art from the Kramlich Collection (Thames & Hudson, 2022). Her previous books include The Builders Association: Performance and Media in Contemporary Theater (M.I.T. Press, 2015), Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good, co-edited with Johanna Burton and Dominic Willsdon (M.I.T. Press, 2016), Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics (Routledge, 2011), Lines of Activity: Performance, Historiography, and Hull-House Domesticity (2000) and Professing Performance: Theatre in the Academy from Philology to Performativity (2004). Other collaborative projects include the guest-edited Valuing Labor in the Arts with Art Practical; a special issue of Representations on time-based art (with Julia Bryan-Wilson); In Terms of Performance an online platform of keywords in experimental art and performance created with the Pew Center for Art & Heritage (; and Media Art 21, an online database and exhibition platform, co-edited with Zhang Ga and Rudolf Frieling (

Jackson’s writing has appeared in dozens of museum catalogues, journals, blogs, and edited collections. She has been a plenary speaker at a variety of distinguished venues, most recently the Universität der Künste in Berlin, Art as Forum in Copenhagen, the Malmo Community Biennial, the Environment Forum at Harvard University, the Venice Biennial, the Gotenburg International Biennial, ArtCOP21, the Chicago Humanities Festival, the PUBLIC Theater, Tate Modern, Creative Time, the Sorbonne, the Museum of Modern Art, SFMOMA, Open Engagement, the Ibsen International Festival in Oslo, the Blaffer Museum, The Kitchen, Cooper Union, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Nord, the Yale School of Drama, and many other universities and art organizations. She has organized dozens of conferences, symposia, public lecture series, and artist residencies with Berkeley Arts + Design Initiative, the Arts Research Center, the Global Urban Humanities Initiative, Art Practical, Cal Performances, BAMPFA, Open Engagement, The Builders Association, Touchable Stories, American Society of Theatre Research, the American Studies Association, the Women and Theatre Project, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Multi-campus Research Group on International Performance, UC Berkeley’s Center for Community Innovation, and with the civic governments of Berkeley, San Francisco, and Richmond, California.

Jackson has received numerous awards and grants, including a 2015 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lilla Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Performance Studies (NCA), the ATHE Best Book Award, Honorable Mention for the John Hope Franklin Prize, the Kahan Scholar’s Prize in Theatre History (ASTR), and the Berkeley Arts and Humanities Outstanding Service Award. She has received fellowships from the Spencer Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as collaborative project grants from the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, UCIRA, the Creative Work Fund, the San Francisco Foundation, and the LEF Foundation.

In the domain of campus and public service, Jackson has held several roles, including founding head of the PhD in Performance Studies (1999-2006), Department Chair of TDPS (2006-2010), Director of the Arts Research Center (2010-2016), Member and Chair of the campus Budget Committee (2010-2014), and Associate Vice Chancellor for the Arts + Design (2015-2021). She is currently the Program Director for the Kramlich Collection and Kramlich Art Foundation and Program Advisor for the Tippet Rise Art Center. She has served on the boards of the UC Berkeley Foundation, the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, the Berkeley Center for New Media, Cal Performances, the Oakland Museum of California, the UC Institute for Research in the Arts, as a Cultural Commissioner for the city of Berkeley, as well as on advisory boards for The Crucible and the Headlands Center for the Arts.

Before moving to UC Berkeley in 1998, she received a B.A. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University (1989), a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University (1995). Jackson served as an Assistant Professor of English and Literature at Harvard University from 1995 to 1998.

Education: PhD (Performance Studies), Northwestern

Research interests: 

Performance theory
Contemporary visual and performance art
American studies
Sex/gender/race studies
History of disciplines
Solo performance
New media theatre



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