The Theatre Studies Program in Theatre is administered by a Chair with the advice of the core faculty members.

Core Faculty

VALLERI ROBINSON, Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies and Theatre Studies Chair, Department of Theatre (PhD, Ohio State University): Twentieth-century American theatre, Russian theatre, modern European theatre, and dramaturgy.

PETER A. DAVIS, Associate Professor, Department of Theatre (PhD, University of Southern California): American theatre history, eighteenth and nineteenth-century theatre, theatre and economics, theatre and cultural history.

KATHERINE SYER, Associate Professor, Department of Theatre (PhD, University of Victoria): Opera production, European cultural history from the mid-eighteenth century to the present.

ROBERT B. GRAVES, Professor and Dean Emeritus, Department of Theatre and College of Fine and Applied Arts (PhD, Northwestern University): Renaissance theatre and drama, Asian theatre, intercultural theatre, and dramatic literature.


ROBERT W. BARRETT, Associate Professor, English and Medieval Studies

Dr. Barrett’s research interests include: Medieval British literature (especially Middle English literature); early English drama (up to 1642); ecocriticism (especially plants); region and locality (especially Cheshire and Chester).

JEFFREY MAGEE, Professor and Director, School of Music

Jeffrey Magee teaches and writes about music in the United States, especially jazz, musical theater, and popular song. His interests include a variety of African-American traditions, issues of Jewish-American musical identity, and black-Jewish intersections. He is he author of The Uncrowned King of Swing: Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz (Oxford, 2005), which on the Irving Lowens Award for Best Book in American Music from the Society for American Music, as well as an award for excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. His second book, Irving Berlin’s American Musical Theater (Oxford, 2012), was supported as a We the People Project of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Professor Magee has published articles in the Studies in Musical Theatre, Journal of the American Musicological Society, American Music, Black Music Research Journal, Current Musicology, and Musical Quarterly, and book chapters in The Cambridge History of American Music and The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington. He was given public lectures at the Library of Congress, Harvard University, 92Y in New York, and several other colleges and universities. His voice may be heard on the documentary series “Leonard Bernstein: An American Life,” narrated by Susan Sarandon and widely aired on public radio.

Before joining the Illinois faculty, he taught at Indiana University (1997-2006), and served as executive editor of the score series Music of the United States of America at the University of Michigan (1993-1997). He has been an editorial board member of The Journal of the American Musicological Society, the Journal of Musicology, Jazz Perspectives, and the Center for Black Music Research, and is co-editor of the book series Profiles in Popular Music for Indiana University Press. He currently serves as a Director-at-large on the American Musicological Society’s Board of Directors. Professor Magee became the Director of the School of Music in 2013 after serving for a year as interim Director.

Interview on The Uncrowned King of Swing: Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz

Interview on Irving Berlin’s American Musical Theater

How White Christmas Rose from Blah to Blockbuster

ANNA W. STENPORT, Professor of Scandinavian Studies and of Germanic Languages and Literature
Professor Anna W. Stenport’s research interests include modern European drama, gender and performance studies, environmental humanities, and crossovers and affinities between stage, screen, and multimedia forms of representation, ranging from silent cinema to digitality cultures. She is the author of more than fifty articles and book chapters and an expert on Nordic drama, film, and media. Her theatre-related books include Locating August Strindberg's Prose: Modernism, Transnationalism, Setting ( University of Toronto Press, 2010), The International Strindberg. New Critical Essays (Northwestern University Press, 2012), and Det gäckande könet: Strindberg och genusteori [The Elusive Gender: Strindberg and Gender Theory] (Symposion, 2006).

ANDREA STEVENS, Associate Professor, English, Theatre and Medieval Studies

Specializing in the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, Andrea Stevens is Associate Professor of English, Theatre, and Medieval Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her published research appears in such journals as English Literary Renaissance, Theatre Notebook, and Shakespeare Bulletin and in the essay collections Thunder at a Playhouse, The Effects of Performance in the Theatres of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, and Shakespeare on the University Stage. Her book Inventions of the Skin: The Painted Body in Early English Drama 1400-1642 examines a crucial aspect of the visual field of the early modern stage: the painted body of the actor. Future planned monographs include Shakespeare and the Performance of the Commonplace and Caroline Metadrama: Insider Theatre in England, 1625-1642; she is also editing the tragedy The Fatal Contract (1639) for inclusion in a forthcoming New Anthology of Renaissance Drama (Routledge, 2019). For her undergraduate teaching, Stevens recently received the LAS Lynn M. Martin award for Distinguished Women Teachers (2014-2015) and the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2014-2015).

CAROL SYMES, Associate Professor, History and Medieval Studies

Dr. Symes received her Ph.D from Harvard and became a member of Actors’ Equity in the same year.  She also holds a B.A. from Yale, an M.Litt from Oxford, and a Certificate in Stage Combat from the Society of British Fight Directors, earned during professional training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.  Her first book,A Common Stage: Theater and Public Life in Medieval Arras(Cornell University Press, 2007), has been awarded the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize of the American Historical Association, the John Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America, the David Pinkney Prize of the Society for French Historical Studies, and the Bevington Prize of the Medieval and Renaissance Drama SocietyShe is the editor, with Caroline Goodson and Anne Lester, ofCities, Texts and Social Networks, 400-1500(2010); and co-author, with Joshua Cole, of W.W. Norton's bestselling Western Civilizations textbook. 

At Illinois, Symes holds joint appointments in Theatre, Global Studies, andMedieval Studies, as well as in History. She is also affiliated with the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. In the past two years, she has begun to create stageworthy translations of several important medieval dramas, including the Anglo-NormanOrdo representacionis Ade (the so-called Jeu d'Adam),the Latin comedyBabio, and the monumental Ludus de Antichristo. All have been staged in productions directed by one of her current Ph.D students,Kyle A. Thomas.

Carol Symes is the recipient of the Queen Teaching Prize for Instruction in History (2007) and the Dean's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (2008).  She was named Helen Corley Petit Scholar for 2008-09.  In 2011, she was appointed Lynn M. Martin Professorial Scholar, an appointment that was renewed in 2014. To date, her work has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois, and the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York.  She has also been Visiting Associate Professor of History at Harvard.

ARIANA TRAILL, Associate Professor and Head of Classics

Ariana Traill (B.A. University of Toronto 1991, Ph.D. Harvard 1997) is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Classics, as well as the Latin Program Coordinator. Her research interests include Greek and Roman comedy, women in antiquity, and the reception of ancient comedy. She is the author of Women and the Comic Plot in Menander (Cambridge, 2008) and co-editor of A Companion to Terence (Wiley- Blackwell, 2013, with Anthony Augoustakis). Current book projects include commentaries on Plautus’ Cistellaria and Terence’s Adelphoe.

DEKE WEAVER, Associate Professor, New Media: Video and Performance

Deke Weaver is a writer-performer and media artist. His performances and videos have been presented throughout the U.S. and abroad in experimental theater, film/video, dance, solo performance, and broadcast venues such as PBS, Channel 4/U.K., the New York Video Festival at Lincoln Center, the Sundance Film Festival, the Chicago Humanities Festival, the Berlin Video Festival, the Museum of Contemporary Art/LA, the Moth, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and many others including livestock pavilions, national parks, night clubs, backyard sheds and living rooms. Recent work on his life-long project, The Unreliable Bestiary - a performance for each letter of the alphabet, each letter represented by an endangered species - includes creating and touring a live-cinema solo version of the original sprawling site-specific WOLF performance, editing the multi-camera video documentaries for WOLF and ELEPHANT, designing the artist books for MONKEY and ELEPHANT, research for BEAR and TIGER, an early workshop for TIGER (part of Perform Midwest: Incubating Collaborative Research, a project funded by the Humanities Without Walls consortium), conference presentations, and the performance-lecture Choose Your Grizzly (MacDowell Downtown in Peterborough, NH, and Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery, Chicago). The texts for MONKEY and ELEPHANT are included in Animal Acts: Performing Species Today (edited by Holly Hughes and Una Chaudhuri, 2014, University of Michigan Press).   A Guggenheim Fellow and Creative Capital grantee, a resident artist at Yaddo, Isle Royale National Park, a three-time resident at Ucross, and a five-time fellow at the MacDowell Colony, he has been awarded commissions and grants from the city of San Francisco, the states of New York and Illinois, and other public and private foundations. He is currently an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with appointments in the Department of Theater and the School of Art & Designs New Media Program. For more information visit his website: unreliablebestiary.org.