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Marla Carlson

Blurred image of the arch used as background for stylistic purposes.
Emeritus Faculty
Caroline Reid Ridlehuber Professor of Theatre Arts
History and Theory Area Head

Marla Carlson’s Affect, Animals, and Autists: Feeling Around the Edges of the Human in Performance (University of Michigan Press, 2018) brings animal studies and disability studies into conversation with performance studies to consider what it means to be human in the twenty-first century and how we might move toward a more equitable, reciprocal relationship with other creatures and with those previously relegated to the fringes of humanity. Performing Bodies in Pain: Medieval and Post-Modern Martyrs, Mystics, and Artists (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) examines spectator response to performances of physical suffering in twenty-first century New York and fifteenth-century France. Her most recent article analyzes a violent entertainment featuring four blind men and a pig staged in Paris, 1425, and a book chapter about pigs and women in Ann Liv Young's Elektra and Jean-François Peyret’s Tournant Autour de Galilée is in process. Marla's work in physical theatre and dance continues to inform her scholarship as well as her directing at UGA. Dr. Carlson completed a three-year term as President of ASTR in November 2021.

Courses offered Spring 2022:

Women in Performance (THEA 4280/6280), T/R 3:55-5:10, 201 Fine Arts Bldg. Examines different approaches by women's performance art and theatre to pressing questions of contemporary U.S. and global culture, such as sexuality, climate change, interspecies relations, aging, work, and violence. For each issue, we compare diverse work by conceptual and body artists, solo performance artists, and group theatre pieces scripted by playwrights and through collaboration. Students experiment with performance in this class, but no previous experience is required.

Seminar in Theory and Criticism: Disability and Performance (THEA 8400), T/R 12:45-2:00 p.m., 310 Fine Arts Building. Theatre and related arts have a long and deep history of using disability as a metaphor, of excluding people perceived to have non-normate bodyminds, and of rewarding non-disabled actors for performing disability. The ground has been shifting, though, and performance can set off seismic disruptions. Let’s dive in and pull others in with us! The aim: more inclusion, less condescension, better understanding.

This seminar will first lay a foundation in critical disability studies including work by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Tobin Siebers, David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder, Lennard Davis, Sunaura Taylor, Kim Q. Hall, Alison Kafer, Jess Waggoner, and Mel Y. Chen. We will then build on that foundation with readings at the intersection of disability studies and performance studies by scholars such as Carrie Sandahl, Petra Kuppers, Arseli Dokumaci, Colette Conroy, Kirsty Johnson, Patrick McKelvey, Leon Hilton, and Samuel Yates. You should expect to read plays and to watch films and recorded performances of all kinds (theatre, dance, performance art). Students’ individual research interests, which need not focus upon theatre or live performance, will shape our shared inquiry.


PhD in Theatre, City University of New York Graduate School

MFA coursework, Goodman School of Drama

BA in Theatre, Lewis and Clark College

Research Areas:
Courses Regularly Taught:
Of note:

Gerald Kahan award from the American Society for Theatre Research for "Looking, Listening, and Remembering: Ways to Walk New York After 9/11," published by Theatre Journal in 2006.

Outstanding Mentoring Award from UGA Graduate School in 2013.

Articles Featuring Marla Carlson
Friday, August 21, 2020 - 8:13am

Department of Theatre & Film Studies professor Dr. Marla Carlson has been appointed the very first Caroline Reid Ridlehuber Professor in Theater Arts.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - 1:05pm

In July 2019, the UGA Theatre’s production of Peas, Pierre Patelin, and Purgation, or Three Farcical Arts of the Deal performed for the sixteenth triennial colloquium of the Société Internationale pour l’Étude du Théâtre Médiéval in Genoa, Italy. The student…

Friday, September 28, 2018 - 11:53am

Congratulations to Dr. Marla Carlson on the publication of Affect, Animals and Autists: Feeling Around the Edges of the Human in Performance by the University of Michigan Press in summer 2018 and to Dr. Fran Teague for recent publications…

Friday, June 29, 2018 - 1:26pm

Dr. Marla Carlson is President of the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR). She was elected by the ASTR membership in Summer 2018 for a three-year term (2018-2021). ASTR is a U.S.-based professional organization that fosters scholarship…

Events with Marla Carlson
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Fine Arts Building Cellar Theatre (Room 55)
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Fine Arts Building Cellar Theatre (Room 55)
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Fine Arts Building Cellar Theatre (Room 55)

More of My Students

PhD Performance Studies
PhD Performance Studies

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