Young Scholars Award

Each year, the SETC History/Theory/Criticism/Literature Committee invites submissions in all topics related to the broad categories of history, theory, criticism, and literature from graduate and undergraduate students.

2017 Graduate Scholar ~ Erin Stoneking

Erin Stoneking is a dramaturg and doctoral candidate in Theatre Arts at Cornell University. She holds a B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill and a M.A. in Performance Studies from NYU. Her dissertation, Reenactment: Southern Nostalgia, Race, and the Performance of Memory, explores the multiple historic and contemporary U.S. Souths evoked by reenactment and theatrical revival and adaptation.

(Re)Performing the American Civil War: Time, Memory, and Nation-making in Paula Vogel’s A Civil War Christmas

Paula Vogel’s play A Civil War Christmas construes the Civil War as the birth-story of the United States, pointedly centering a runaway enslaved mother and her child as the holy family within a large and diverse ensemble. This paper argues that, in re-performing the Civil War onstage, Vogel’s play witnesses the traumatic past, even as it frequently and sentimentally elides the violence, racism, and aggressive sectionalism of history to imagine a better future in the present and in our own future. The play repeats the past, in other words, to revise it. Above all, Civil War Christmas enacts and bears witness to the persistence of the past in the present and the weight of the American Civil War in cultural and national memory. The play is not only commemorative of American history, but is invested in enlivening nineteenth-century history in the immediacy of live performance in order to define and maintain a broad, unified national identity in the present moment. In infusing the story of the Civil War with an anachronistic multicultural progressivism that ignores the time period’s harsher realities, Vogel presents a celebratory, therapeutic rehearsal—or, more literally, a pageant, in the sense of the word as “public celebration” or “religious drama”—of the United States as a united community, a nation that, though forged in blood, can achieve peace.

2016 Undergraduate Scholar ~ Will Conard-Malley

Will Conard-Malley is currently a senior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges where he studies history, theatre, and music. He recently returned from a three-week immersion program studying the performing arts in Balinese culture. In addition to theatre, he plays the cello and sings in an a cappella group.

Towards a New Theatre: Edward Gordon Craig and the Durable Drama

Edward Gordon Craig is perhaps best known for his theoretical writings about the theatre. This paper argues that while his writings are often associated with the first part of the twentieth century, the ways in which he went about formulating them – especially with regard to his emphasis on non-western performance traditions – reveals that he had more in common with the 19th century imperialist mindset of conquest and exploitation. Craig’s decision to pick and choose elements of many east and southeast Asian performance traditions and fuse them in new ways, with no regard to their original context or culture of origin, reflects a worldview that is decidedly Eurocentric. While Craig was looking outside of Europe, he was doing so in order to reinvent western theatre. He felt that east and southeast Asian performance traditions preserved certain qualities that the ancient Greek theatre had possessed as well, and he believed that restoring these concepts — including the use of masks and puppets, as well as dance more than the spoken word — would create a drama that would surpass time and location, becoming even more immortal than the works of Shakespeare. This so-called “Durable Drama” would also require an aesthetic that was much cleaner and more minimalistic than the ornate stage scenery of western theatre in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The aesthetic that Craig wanted was also derived from non-western traditions, including Japanese Kabuki and Noh. While Craig’s intent may have been admirable — to create a new type of theatrical performance — his method of execution was to appropriate from multiple, vastly different cultures, separating the elements from their original context and significance.


One graduate and one undergraduate paper are chosen for presentation at the annual SETC Convention.

Submissions will open for the 69th annual SETC Convention in Mobile, AL, later this year. Check back for more details.

Award Winners Will Receive:

Winners must present their paper at the Young Scholars Panel held during the annual SETC Convention in order to collect prizes. If a winning author cannot attend, an alternate winner will be selected.

  • Cash prize
  • Free SETC Convention registration
  • Free SETC membership for one year
  • A ticket to the Friday Lunch during Convention

For more information, contact Young Scholars Award Chair Sarah McCarroll.