Kathleen Schaag

Brittain Fellow

Member Of:
  • School of Literature, Media, and Communication
  • Writing and Communication Program
Office Location:
Skiles 313
Office Hours:
Monday 12:30-2:30, and by appointment
Related Links:
Overview
Personal Pronouns:
she/they

Kathleen Schaag, PhD, is a scholar, artist, writer, curator, and educator. Her first book project, Conceptual Theatre, explores the political potential of thought experiments in African American avant-garde closet drama and feminist performance art. Her second book project, American Plasticity, theorizes synthetic plastic aesthetics in contemporary performance art, visual art, and pop culture. She earned her PhD in English Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a specialization in Performance Studies and Visual Cultures and a minor in Fine Art and Creative Writing. She was the 2017-2018 Mendota Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the English Department at UW-Madison, and a 2017 Humanities Without Walls National Fellow. As a consultant at UW Design Lab, a transmedia storytelling center dedicated to democratizing digitality, she developed curricular materials for emerging “smart media” genres such as visual essays, sonic essays, and presentations. She has collaborated with the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison Public Library, UW Arts Institute, and UW Center for the Humanities to orchestrate grant-funded public arts and humanities symposia, workshops, talks, and performances. She co-founded the Art + Scholarship Borghesi-Mellon Workshop and the Madison Performance Philosophy Collective, and co-curated a series of Theory-Practice Collaboratories and Mad Theory symposia. As a multimedia artist and writer, she exhibits and performs nationally and internationally, and teaches public workshops on performance, creative writing, and art as activism.

Education:
  • Ph.D. English Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2017
  • Ph.D. Minor, Fine Art and Creative Writing, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2017
  • M.A. Literary Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2010
  • B.A. Honors English and Women's and Gender Studies, Loyola University Chicago, 2008
Awards and
Distinctions:
  • National Humanities Without Walls Fellowship, Humanities Without Walls Consortium, 2017
  • Mendota Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship, English Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2017-2018
  • Borghesi-Mellon Interdisciplinary Workshop in the Humanities Grant, Center for the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015-2016
  • Mellon-Wisconsin Dissertation Fellowship, Graduate School, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015
  • Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) Graduate Summit Grant, Arts Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015
  • A.W. Mellon Interdisciplinary Workshop in the Humanities Grant, Center for the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2013-2014 + 2014-2015
  • ASTR Fellowship, American Society for Theatre Research (professional organization), 2014
  • Interim Event Grant, Performance Philosophy (professional organization), 2014
  • Herlihy-Jones Scholarship, English Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2014
  • New Arts Venture Challenge 2nd Place Award, Arts Enterprise (Arts Institute and Bolz Center for Arts Administration), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2014
  • Post-Prelims Fellowship, English Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2013
  • Provost Research Fellowship, English Department and Office of the Provost, Loyola University Chicago, 2008-2009
Areas of
Expertise:
  • 20th-21st Century Multi-Ethnic American Literature
  • Creative Writing
  • Critical Theory
  • Cultural Studies
  • Digital Media
  • Drama & Poetry
  • Performance Studies
  • Public Humanities
  • Race, Gender, Feminist, Trans, & Queer Theory
  • Theatre History, Theory, & Criticism
  • Transatlantic Modernisms & Historical Avant-Gardes
  • Transmedia Storytelling & Multimodal Communication
  • UX & Design Thinking
  • Visual Cultures & Popular Cultures
Interests
Research Fields:
  • Communication
  • Digital Media
  • Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Media Studies
  • Science and Technology Studies
Issues:
  • Environment
  • Gender
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Aesthetics
  • Community engagement
  • Digital and Mixed Media
  • Drama and Theater Studies
  • Feminism
  • Internet Studies
  • Language and Popular Culture
  • Literary Theory
  • Literature
  • Media Production
  • Mediatized Culture
  • Neuroplasticity and Memory
  • Performance
  • Philosophy
  • Poetry
  • Post-Modernism
  • Queer Studies
  • Science and Technology
  • Sustainability
Courses
  • LMC-3432: Tech Comm Strategies
Selected Publications

Journal Articles

  • “Will Blackness Please Step Out and Take a Curtain Call?”: Ed Bullins’s Conceptual Theatre
       In: Modern Drama 62.3 (Fall 2019) [Peer Reviewed]

    2019

    Emphasis on the political activism of the Black Theatre Movement has obfuscated its investment in contemplation and interiority. Ed Bullins’s avant-garde dramatic texts – particularly The Theme Is Blackness (1966) and A Short Play for a Small Theater (1970) – are key to the genre I call the conceptual play and an archive I call conceptual theatre. In dialogue with Amiri Baraka and Jean Genet, Bullins built on experiments with closet drama by Marita Bonner and Jean Toomer, resisting the physical stage and the public sphere in order to reimagine blackness. My reading of Bullins’s work shifts our understanding of the Black Theatre Movement from a theatre of reality to a conceptual theatre that catalyses a politics of the imagination.

Chapters

  • Biological Plasticity and Performative Possibility in the Work of Catherine Malabou and Curious
       In: Inter Views in Performance Philosophy: Crossings and Conversations [Peer Reviewed]

    2017

    Reading Catherine Malabou’s philosophy of plasticity with performance artist duo Leslie Hill and Helen Paris’ embodied practice of autobiology, I theorize feminist engagements with biological materiality and propose a consideration of the performative neuroplasticity of the gut. This intervention has significant implications for the performativity of identity in everyday life: the synaptic event revises the genetic code and transforms the biological program. Moving between material and symbolic orders, contemporary feminist representations of the (in)visible body perform new possibilities for embodied speech acts.

Internet Publications

  • From Bush to Brontë and Back Again: The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever
       In: Yes Femmes

    2018

    This creative nonfiction essay theorizes the queer femme affects, aesthetics, and orientations of the Kate Bush-Emily Brontë-TMWHDE lineage. It also features my video edit of the dance performance I co-orchestrated.

  • The Pleasures of Teaching Plastic
       In: Edge Effects

    2018

    As a material that compels us to rethink the relationship between nature and artifice, subject and object, and surface and depth, plastic is a natural ally to queer and feminist politics. What happens when we connect environmental critiques of synthetic plastic material with cultural analyses of plastic aesthetics and philosophical studies of biological neuroplasticity? How do plastic subjects and objects negotiate the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, and species? What do eco-critics and identity theorists have to say to each other about queer subversions of naturalized nature? And how can we work together to save the planet? This public essay, which also features images of my students' multimedia projects, reflects upon a seminar I developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison called "PLASTIC! Surface, Substance, Selfie" and theorizes plastic identities, environments, bodies, aesthetics, and materials like styrofoam, silicone, and glitter.

Recent Publications

Journal Articles

  • “Will Blackness Please Step Out and Take a Curtain Call?”: Ed Bullins’s Conceptual Theatre
       In: Modern Drama 62.3 (Fall 2019) [Peer Reviewed]

    2019

    Emphasis on the political activism of the Black Theatre Movement has obfuscated its investment in contemplation and interiority. Ed Bullins’s avant-garde dramatic texts – particularly The Theme Is Blackness (1966) and A Short Play for a Small Theater (1970) – are key to the genre I call the conceptual play and an archive I call conceptual theatre. In dialogue with Amiri Baraka and Jean Genet, Bullins built on experiments with closet drama by Marita Bonner and Jean Toomer, resisting the physical stage and the public sphere in order to reimagine blackness. My reading of Bullins’s work shifts our understanding of the Black Theatre Movement from a theatre of reality to a conceptual theatre that catalyses a politics of the imagination.

Internet Publications

  • From Bush to Brontë and Back Again: The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever
       In: Yes Femmes

    2018

    This creative nonfiction essay theorizes the queer femme affects, aesthetics, and orientations of the Kate Bush-Emily Brontë-TMWHDE lineage. It also features my video edit of the dance performance I co-orchestrated.

  • The Pleasures of Teaching Plastic
       In: Edge Effects

    2018

    As a material that compels us to rethink the relationship between nature and artifice, subject and object, and surface and depth, plastic is a natural ally to queer and feminist politics. What happens when we connect environmental critiques of synthetic plastic material with cultural analyses of plastic aesthetics and philosophical studies of biological neuroplasticity? How do plastic subjects and objects negotiate the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, and species? What do eco-critics and identity theorists have to say to each other about queer subversions of naturalized nature? And how can we work together to save the planet? This public essay, which also features images of my students' multimedia projects, reflects upon a seminar I developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison called "PLASTIC! Surface, Substance, Selfie" and theorizes plastic identities, environments, bodies, aesthetics, and materials like styrofoam, silicone, and glitter.