HEY THERE! I am a Ph.D. Candidate at Indiana University pursuing a degree in Theatre History, Theory, and Literature with a minor in religious studies. I am scheduled to defend my dissertation, "The Good News on Stage: Evangelicalism and Theatre Practice in Antebellum America" on May 6, 2020.
My project argues that American Christianity developed as a result of the theatre’s existence by appropriating tactics of theatricality in order for its message to find relevancy in society. Famed revivalist preacher Charles Grandison Finney, for example, looked to the actor for ways to manipulate of the spectators’ senses. Additionally, author Harriet Beecher Stowe—who opposed the many melodramatic adaptations of Uncle Tom’s Cabin—wrote a dramatic reading of her famous novel, casting a free black woman to play the roles. The play gave Stowe’s words a new authenticity as spectators witnessed a black body perform the trauma of slavery. While many historians assert that nineteenth-century evangelicals embraced antitheatricality, “The Good News on Stage” reveals the complicated nature between Christianity and the theatre. Intervening in the fields of Theatre and Religious Studies, this project offers to the field a new understanding of evangelicalism, as well as the influence of theatre on antebellum society and beyond.
I hold a Master of Arts in Theatre Studies from the University of Central Florida and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA. My scholarship has been published in refereed journals and edited collections, includingThe Harold Pinter Review, Ecumenica, Theatre History Studies, and Southern Theatre. I am a proud servant-leader in my field and institution, having served in elected roles at the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE). At Indiana University, I served as Graduate Teaching Ambassador and Graduate Representative on the Search Committee for the Executive Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
In addition to my scholarship, I have worked professionally as a dramaturg and have directed several times at the university level. I am the proud recipient of ASTR's 2016 Thomas Marshall Graduate Student Award and SETC's 2016 Thomas Porterfield Graduate Student Award. Joe is originally from Long Island, NY, and spent a formidable period of his life in Pottstown, PA. He calls Orlando, FL, home.
Background photo from Bloodlines, directed by Rachel Ballasy at Messiah College. Photo by Christie Heimbach.
2019-2020 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Indiana University
2019 ART@IU Graduate Student Essay Prize, First Prize, Indiana Universirty
2018 Theatre and Drama Merit Award, Indiana University
2018 Graduate Student Pre-Dissertation Grant, Indiana University
2016-2017 Doctoral Fellowship, Indiana University
2016 Thomas Marshall Graduate Student Award, American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR)
2016 Prize for Innovative Teaching Nominee, ATHE/KCACTF
2016 Robert Porterfield Graduate Scholar, Southeastern Theatre Conference
2016 Florida Theatrical Association Scholarship Award, Florida Theatrical Association
2016 Order of Pegasus Nominee, The University of Central Florida
2014 Irene Ryan Nomination, KCACTF
2010-2014 Daniel Vollmer Scholarship for the Arts, Messiah College