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:


Personal Pronouns:

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.

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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


Research Fields:
  • Communication
  • Digital Media
  • Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Media Studies
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • 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


  • ENGL-1102: English Composition II
  • LMC-3432: Tech Comm Strategies

Selected Publications

Journal Articles


Internet Publications

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

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  • The Pleasures of Teaching Plastic
    In: Edge Effects
    Date: 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.

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Recent Publications

Journal Articles