Professor of Theatre & Drama
Dr. Amy E. Hughes (she/her), Professor and Head of Theatre Studies in the Department of Theatre & Drama, is a theatre historian whose research focuses on theatre and performance in the United States during the nineteenth century. Her interests and expertise include material and visual culture, disability studies, animal studies, digital humanities, documentary editing, and culturally responsive pedagogy (h/t Dr. Geneva Gay). Hughes’s first book, Spectacles of Reform: Theater and Activism in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Michigan Press, 2012), explores how theatre producers and reformers harness the power of spectacle to promote or resist social change. The book received the 2013 Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History from the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR). In 2018, University of Michigan Press published A Player and a Gentleman: The Diary of Harry Watkins, Nineteenth-Century US American Actor, coedited by Hughes and Naomi J. Stubbs—a critical edition of the pre-Civil War diary of US actor-playwright-manager Harry Watkins (1825–94). Their open-source digital edition of the diary received the 2019 ATHE-ASTR Award for Excellence in Digital Theatre and Performance Scholarship. Hughes’s current project, An Actor’s Tale: Theater, Culture, and Everyday Life in Nineteenth-Century US America (under contract with University of Michigan Press), is an “alternative history” of nineteenth-century US theatre culture centered on workaday labor. Hughes is also developing a book-length study about changing views toward dogs during the 1800s, focusing on the transatlantic enthusiasm for “dog dramas” in England, France, and the United States. A deep commitment to anti-oppressive ideals and practices infuses her scholarship, teaching, leadership, and service. She is a member of University of Michigan’s Committee on Strategies and Tactics to Improve Diversity and Excellence (STRIDE), which is part of U-M’s ADVANCE program.