Shannon Jackson

Cyrus and Michele Hadidi Chair in the Humanities

Theater, Dance and Performance Studies

PhD (Performance Studies), Northwestern

Image of Shannon Jackson


215 Dwinelle Annex

Wednesday 2:00-4:00 PM, Make an appointment here

Research Interests

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

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 broad, 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 the Social (Northwestern University Press, 2022), and The Human Condition: Media Art from the Kramlich Collection (Thames & Hudson, forthcoming). 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 recent projects include the guest-edited Valuing Labor in the Arts with Art Practical, a special issue of Representations on time-based art, and a new online platform of keywords in experimental art and performance, created in collaboration with the Pew Center for Art and Heritage, In Terms of Performance ( Jackson’s writing has also appeared in dozens of museum catalogues, journals, blogs, and edited collections.

Jackson has received numerous awards, 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 Arts and Humanities Outstanding Service Award. She has received fellowships from the Spencer Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as several collaborative project grants from the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, UCIRA, the Creative Work Fund, the San Francisco Foundation, and the LEF Foundation.

Jackson is currently the Program Director for the Kramlich Collection and Kramlich Art Foundation. She serves on the boards of the UC Berkeley Foundation, the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, the Berkeley Center for New Media, and the Oakland Museum of California, as well as on advisory boards for The Crucible and the Headlands Center for the Arts. She has been a plenary speaker at a variety of distinguished venues, including most recently the Venice Biennial, the Goteburg 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, Harvard’s Spencer Lecture in Drama, and many other universities and art organizations. She has organized dozens of conferences, symposia, 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, UCB’s Center for Community Innovation, and with the civic governments of Berkeley, San Francisco, and Richmond, California.

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), and served as an assistant professor of English and Literature at Harvard University from 1995 to 1998.


Chapters in Edited Collections
“Life Politics/Life Aesthetics: Environmental Performance in red, black, & GREEN: a blues,” Politics of Space: Theatre and Topology. Edited by Erika Fischer-Lichte and Benjamin Wihstutz (London and New York: Routledge, 2012). [peer-reviewed]
“Kleenex Citizens and the Politics of Disposability in France,” Scales of Production: Performance and Internationalism , Ed. John Rouse (London: Palgrave, forthcoming). [peer-reviewed]
“When ‘Everything Counts’: Experimental Performance and Performance Historiography,” Representing the Past: Essays in Performance and Historiography , Eds. Canning and Postlewait, (Iowa UP, 2010) [peer reviewed]
“When Is Art Research?,” Scholarly Acts , eds. Lynette Hunter and Shannon Riley, (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).[peer-reviewed] [pdf]
“Rhetoric in Ruins,” Contesting Performance , eds. Jon McKenzie and Heike Roms, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) [peer-reviewed] [pdf]
“Toward a Queer Social Welfare Studies,” Ed. Carol Nackenoff, et al, Jane Addams and the Practice of Democracy: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Theory and Practice , (Urbana: University of Illinois P, January 2009); reprinted in Jane Addams: Re-Reading the Canon , Ed. Maurice Hamington (Penn State University Press, 2010). [both peer reviewed] [pdf
“What is the “social” in Social Practice: Comparing Experiments in Performance,” Cambridge Handbook of Performance Studies , Ed. Tracy Davis (Cambridge UP 2008). [peer-reviewed] [pdf]
“Settling: Die Pädagogik der Performance in Hull-House,” Persistenz und Verschwinden ed. by Michael Göhlich, Caroline Hopf, Daniel Tröhler, Wiesbaden (VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2008).[pdf]
“Institutional Genealogies of Performance Studies,” Sage Handbook of Performance Studie s Ed. Madison et al (New York: Sage, December 2005).
“Touchable Stories and the Infrastructural Imagination,” Rememberings: Performance and Oral History , Ed. Della Pollock (St. Martin’s Press, October 2005).
“Professing Performance: Disciplinary Genealogies,” reprinted in The Performance Studies Reader , Ed. Henry Bial (London: Routledge, 2004).
“Why Modern Drama is Not Culture: Disciplinary Blind Spots,” reprinted in Performance: Critical Concepts , ed. Philip Auslander (New York: Routledge, 2003) and in Modern Drama: Defining the Field , Eds. Richard Knowles, Joanne Tompkins, W.B. Worthen (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2003)
“Theatricality’s Proper Objects: Genealogies of Performance and Gender,” Theatricality , Eds. Tracy Davis and Tom Postlewait (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003).
“Performance at Hull-House: Museum, Micro-fiche, Historiography,” Exceptional Spaces: Essays in Performance and History , ed. Della Pollock (Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1998), 261-93.

Essays in Peer-Reviewed Journals
“Just-in-Time: Precarity, Affect, and the Labor of Performance,” The Drama Review (Spring 2012)
“Working Publics,” Performance Research (Spring 2011).
“Concentrating Creativity: An Exploration of Informal and Formal Arts Districts,” Karen Chapple, Shannon Jackson, Ann Martin, City, Culture and Society , (Spring 2011).
“Toward an Integrated Epistemology,” co-authored with Karen Chapple, Journal of Environment and Space Planning (Spring 2010) [pdf]
“Performing Literature and Performance Studies,” Performance Research (March 2009)
“Theatre…Again,” Art Lies: Special Issue on Theatre , 60 (Winter 2008) [pdf]
“Social Practice,” Lexicons: Special issue of Performance Research (January 2007). Reprinted in documenta 12 magazines , 2007 [pdf]
“Caravans Continued: Remembering Dwight Conquergood,” The Drama Review: 50 th Anniversary Issue (Spring 2006). [pdf]
“Performing Show and Tell: On the Disciplinary Problems of Mixed-Media Practice,” The Journal of Visual Culture , Special Issue: “Show and Tell: The State of Visual Culture Studies,” edited by Martin Jay, August, 2005.
“Resist Singularity,” Theatre Survey , Special Issue: “What is the single most important thing we can do to bring theatre history into the new millenium?,” edited by Jody Enders, Fall 2004.
“Partial Publicities and Gendered Remembering” Cultural Studies (Fall 2003).
“Why Modern Drama is Not Culture: Disciplinary Blind Spots” Modern Drama (Spring 2002).
“Professing Performance: Disciplinary Genealogies,” The Drama Review (Spring 2001) [pdf]
“White Noises: On Performing White, On Writing Performance,” The Drama Review (March 1998): 49-65. [pdf]
“Pedagogy and White Privilege: Nadine Gordimer in Performance” Theatre Topics: Special Issue “Pedagogy/Performance” (Fall 1997): 117-38. [link]
“Civic Play-Housekeeping: Gender, Theatre, and American Reform,” Theatre Journal: Special Issue “Enacting American” (Fall 1996): 337-61. [pdf]
“Representing Rape: Model Mugging’s Discursive and Embodied Performances,” The Drama Review (Fall 1993): 110-41. [pdf]
“Rooms of Re-collection: Adrienne Kennedy’s Post-Modern Art of Memory,” Theatre Annual (Spring 1993): 73-83.
“Audition and Ethnography: Performance as Ideological Critique,” Text and Performance Quarterly (Winter 1993): 21-43.
“Performing the Performance of Power in Beckett’s Catastrophe,” The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism (Spring 1992): 23-41.
“Context as Critique: On Experiences that May or May Not Be Theater,” Forum Modernes Theater (forthcoming).
“Sur la diversité de la performance du genre” (“The Varieties of Gendered Performance”), Horizons/Théâtre 7 (2018).  
“Time Based Art in a Global Context: Special Issue Introduction,” International Journal of Aesthetics and Philosophy of Culture 2, no. 2 (2017).
“Durational Art and Its Contexts: Introduction,” with Julia Bryan-Wilson, Representations 136 (Fall 2016): 1-20.
“Visual Activism in Visual Culture,” The Journal of Visual Culture Studies 15 no. 1, ed. by Jennifer Gonzalez, Julia Bryan-Wilson, and Dominic Willsdon (April 2016): 173-176.
“The Way We Perform Now,” Dialog 7-8 (July-August 2015): 39-53. Reprint and translation into Polish.
“The Way We Perform Now,” Dance Research Journal 46 no. 3 (December 2014): 53-61. Reprint and translation into Polish.
“Introduction” and “Common Measure in Kind,” Special Issue: Valuing Labor in the Arts, Art Practical (April/May 2014). Editor of Special Issue.


Keynote, “How Are We Performing Today?,” Annual Symposium, Museum of Modern Art, New York, November 2012

Keynote, “Rimini Protokoll’s Parallel Cities Symposium,” University of Zurich, October 2012

Keynote, “Upsetting the Relations: The Politics of the Social in Contemporary Art,” Tate Modern, London, July 2012

“Why the Public Sector Makes Me Cry,” Opening Keynote, BIARI Series on Civic Arts, Brown University, June 2012

“Performance and the Museum,” Keynote, Whitney Biennial and Artists Space, May 2012

“Art Works/Social Works,” Keynote,” Open Engagement: Annual Conference on Socially-Engaged Art,” Portland, Oregon, May 2012

Recent Lectures, Seminars and Interviews

“Theaters and Galleries,” School of Humanities Spring Lecture, Texas Tech University (April 2012)

“Reality’s Referents: Forms of the Real Across the Arts,” Keynote, Monsters of Reality: An International Symposium on New Documentary Theatre, University of Oslo (March 2011)

“Arts and Infrastructures in Public Practice,” Keynote, Light It Up: Optimizing Public Practice, Arizona State University (October 2011)

The Creative Time Summit: Living as Form at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts , NYU (September 23, 2011)

Social Art Works: Social Turns and Reciprocal Systems ,” The Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium, UC Berkeley’s Center for New Media (September 19, 2011, 7:30-9 p.m., Sutardja Dai Hall, Banatao Auditorium)

Performance: The Body Politic ,” An interview with Shannon Jackson by Christina Linden, Art Practical, 2011

“Social Works and the Legacy of Critical Pedagogy in Brazil and Beyond,” Organized by Pable Helguera, Museum of Modern Art, New York (July 2011)

“Theaters and Galleries: Medium-Specificity and Cross-Media Performance,” The Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research at Harvard University (June 2011)

“Social Aesthetic Questions in Contemporary Arts Research,” a seminar in Performance and Media Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg Universitat, Mainz (May 2011)

“Acting In/Stalled,” Performance Studies International, Utrecht, Netherlands (May 2011)

“Social Works and Interdisciplinary Arts Research,” University of Mainz, Germany, Organized by Michael Bachmann (May 2011); Freie Universitat, Berlin, Organized by Erika Fischer-Lichte (May 2011)

“The Performative Turn in Socially Engaged Art,” Freie Universitat, Berlin, Organized by Doris Kolesch (May 2011); University of Oslo, Organized by Ragnhild Tronstad (April 2011)

“Re-skilling: Performance Across Artistic and Social Sectors,” Trondheim University, Norway, Organized by Elena Perez (April 2011)

“The Performance Turn: Disciplined Interdisciplinarity,” International PerFormativity Seminar at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU Trondheim, organized by Elena Perez (April 2011)

“Performative Turns in Socially-Engaged Art,” The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (April 2011)

Symposium: Reciprocal Aesthetics, Performing Idea, 2009-2010 [video ]

Invited Speaker, “Relative Autonomy in the Age of Climate Politics,” Artistic Practice Between Autonomy and Functionalization, Universitat der Kunste, Berlin, Germany (November 2019)

Keynote, “Public (Re) Assembly: Performance and Social Institutions,” International Fjord Summer School, Exploring artistic, pedagogic, and therapeutic practices: Interdisciplinary knowledges for responsive research and innovation, Bergen, Norway (June 2019)

Keynote, “Choreographing Infrastructure,” If I Can’t Dance: Social Movement, Amsterdam, (November 2018)

Keynote, “Art Effects/Neoliberal Affects,” Art and Social Communities, House of Nordic Ministers, Copenhagen, (October 2018)

Keynote, “Public (Re) Assembly and Crisis Dramaturgy,” Systemic Crisis in European Theatre, London   

    (April 2018). 

Keynote, “Vocabularies of Assembly, Assembling Vocabulary,” Platform for Artistic Research Sweden   

   (PARSE) Annual Conference, University of Gothenburg (November 2017). 

Keynote, “Exclusive Access: On the dynamics and vocabularies of art and care,” Platform for Artistic Research Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale (June 2017).

Invited Plenary, “Envisioning Equity in the Arts,” Oakland Book Festival (May 2017).

Featured Speaker, “Public (Re)Assembly,” Social Practice Lab Lecture Series, Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University (April 2017).

Featured Speaker, “Civic (Re) Enactment,” The Future of Reenactment Symposium, Duke University (April 2017).

Theorist-in-Residence, “Keyword Exchange: Contemporary Art and Performance: Workshop, Symposium, Pop-Up Pedagogy,” TateEx Platform, Tate Modern Museum, London (October 2016).

Speaker and Curator, “Collaborative Research Platforms in Socially-Engaged Art,” Open Engagement, Oakland Museum of California (April 2016).

Keynote, “Context as Critique: On Experiences that May or May Not be Theater,” “Theatre as Critique,” Goethe University Frankfurt (March 2016).

Invited Plenary, “Assembly Required: New Media, New Dramaturgies,” Under the Radar/Culturebot Roundtable, The Public Theatre (January 2016).

Keynote, “Performing Together,” “Ensemble/Togetherness in the Performing Arts Symposium,” Paris VII (December 2015).

Featured Speaker, “Performance and its Allies,” Rutgers University (October 2015).

Keynote, “Art and Social Turns: X Apartments,” Onassis Cultural Center/Goethe Institute, Athens, Greece, May 2015.

Plenary Keynote, “The Public University as Public Art,” The Future of the Humanities in the Public University, SUNY-Buffalo, April 2015.

Keynote, “Performance…in Time,” Arts, Temps, et Performance, Sorbonne, Paris (December 2014).

Keynote, “Rules of Engagement,” Unruly Engagements: Social Practice in Contemporary Art, Cleveland Institute of Art (November 2014).

Keynote, “Drama and Other Time-Based Arts,” Annual meeting: Theatre and Performance Research Association, London (September 2014).

Keynote, “The Way We Perform Now,” Annual Meeting: Consortium of the Humanities Centers and Institutes, Hong Kong (June 2014).

Featured Speaker, “Performance and the Social,” Around Performance Series, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (March 2014).

Keynote, “Rhetoric as/of Art,” Bay Area Art Graduate Student Conference, sponsored by Stanford’s Art History Department and the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum (November 2013).

Annual Spencer Lecture in Drama, “Curating People: Drama and Other Time-Based Arts,” Harvard University (April 2013).

Keynote, “The Politics of the Social in Contemporary Art,” Tate Modern Museum (February 2013).

Invited Plenary, “The Social Turn in Art,” Contemporary Art Historians Annual Plenary, College Art Association (February 2013).


  • 2007, Author of the Year, Comparative Drama Association
  • 2005, Best Book, National Communications Association
  • 2005, Best Book, Association for Theatre in Higher Education
  • 2001, Honorable Mention, Best Book, American Studies Association
  • 1997/98, Radicliffe Institute of Advanced Study
  • 1995, Michigan Society of Fellows (declined)
  • 1994/95, National Endowment of the Humanities (declined)
  • 1994/95, Spencer Foundation Fellowship
  • 2015 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship Award
  • 2012 ATHE Notable Book Award (for Social Works)
  • 2011 Distinguished Service Award, Division of Arts and Humanities, UCB