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Dr Catherine Silverstone, BA, MA (Waikato) DPhil (Sussex)

Senior Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies



Catherine Silverstone

I grew up in Hamilton, New Zealand and attended a local state secondary school. I studied for a BA in English with Philosophy and MA in English at the University of Waikato. Having spent most of my life in one place, I decided that it was time for a change and I moved to the UK to undertake my doctoral research at the University of Sussex; this project focussed on late twentieth and early twenty-first-century performances of Shakespeare. After graduating, I was appointed as a lecturer in English and Drama at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge before joining Queen Mary in 2007 as a lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies.


Undergraduate teaching:

In the 2014-15 academic year, I teach on:

Postgraduate teaching:

In the current academic year, I contribute to postgraduate teaching on:


Research interests:

  • Sexuality, especially in relation to queer performance practices;
  • Early modern drama in performance on stage and screen, especially in relation to gender, sexual and racial politics and Shakespeare cultural politics;
  • Trauma studies and its relation to performance practice and criticism;
  • Tragedy and the performance of death;
  • Performance histories and historiography.

Recent and On-Going Research:

My research is concerned with the cultural politics of contemporary performance. I’m particularly interested in what performance is asked to do (and for whom) and what’s at stake in the representations that it offers, especially for thinking about identity, community, and spectatorship. One of the key ways I’ve explored these concerns is through an investigation of early modern drama in performance on stage and screen; more recently I’ve considered other types of performance, including queer performance and filmmaking, and live art. My monograph, Shakespeare, Trauma and Contemporary Performance (2011) explores relationships between performances of Shakespeare and various traumatic events and histories including apartheid, colonisation, homophobia, and war. I’ve recently edited a special issue -- ‘On Affirmation’ -- for Performance Research with Fintan Walsh and a special issue of Shakespeare Bulletin to commemorate the 20th anniversary in 2014 of the death of the filmmaker, writer, painter, activist, and gardener, Derek Jarman. My current research builds on my work for the Jarman special issue to consider queer legacies. I’ve also published articles on theatrical reconstruction, cross-dressing, post-apartheid performance, Shakespeare in Aotearoa New Zealand, festival performance, queer club performance, and coming out films. I am co-editor with Sarah Annes Brown of Tragedy in Transition (2007). I am a member of the AHRC's Peer Review College and the editorial board of Shakespeare Bulletin.


Selected Publications:

'Shakespeare, Cinema and Queer Adolescents: Unhappy Endings and Heartfelt Conclusions', Shakespeare (2013), 1-19: doi:10.1080/17450918.2013.807297

‘Duckie’s Gay Shame: Critiquing Pride and Selling Shame in Club Performance’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 22 (2012), 62-78 doi:10.1080/10486801.2011.645234

Shakespeare, Trauma and Contemporary Performance (New York: Routledge, 2011)

‘Fatal Attraction: Desire, Anatomy and Death in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore’, in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore: A Critical Guide, ed. L. Hopkins (London: Continuum, 2010), pp. 77-93

‘“Honour the real thing”: Shakespeare, Trauma and Titus Andronicus in South Africa’, Shakespeare Survey, ed. P. Holland, 62 (2009), 46-57

with S. Brown, eds, Tragedy in Transition (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007)

‘Speaking Maori Shakespeare: The Maori Merchant of Venice and the Legacy of Colonisation’, in Screening Shakespeare in the Twenty-First Century, ed. M. T. Burnett and R. Wray (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006), pp. 127-145

‘Shakespeare Live: Reproducing Shakespeare at the 'New' Globe Theatre’, Textual Practice, 19 (2005), 31-50 doi:10.1080/0950236042000329636

‘Othello's Travels in New Zealand: Shakespeare, Race and National Identity’, in Remaking Shakespeare: Performance Across Media, Genres and Cultures, ed. P. Aebischer, E. J. Esche, N. Wheale (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2003), pp. 74-92

See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile


PhD Supervision

I am currently supervising projects on lesbian performance, black queer theatre, new writing at the Globe and the RSC, and anti-social performance and queerness.

I have supervised the following PhD projects to completion:

  • Brian Lobel, ‘Playing the Cancer Card: Illness, Spectatorship and Performance’ (co-supervised with Lois Weaver).
  • Cecilia Sosa, ‘Performance, Kinship and Archives: Queering Acts of Mourning in the Aftermath of Argentina’s 1976-1983 Dictatorship’ (co-supervised with Maria Delgado).

I would welcome applications from prospective research students, especially those interested in working on Shakespeare and early modern drama in performance; queer performance practices; and trauma studies.

Public engagement

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