Katie Schaag, PhD, is a scholar, artist, writer, curator, and educator. As an Assistant Professor of Theatre & Performance at Spelman College, she teaches performance studies, devised theatre, site-specific performance art, writing for performance, digital storytelling, and other courses at the intersection of theatre, art, literature, and digital media. She was previously a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech, where she taught multimedia communication courses, served on Institute Diversity’s Transformative Narratives steering committee, and collaborated with the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain. She came to Georgia Tech from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned her PhD in English Literature with a specialization in Performance Studies and a minor in Fine Art and Creative Writing. While at UW-Madison she was also a Humanities Without Walls National Fellow, a Mendota Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, and a consultant at DesignLab, a transmedia storytelling center dedicated to democratizing digitality. She co-founded the A. W. Mellon Art + Scholarship Workshop and the Madison Performance Philosophy Collective, co-curated a series of Theory-Practice Collaboratories and Mad Theory symposia, and 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. As a multimedia artist, she exhibits and performs nationally and internationally, and teaches public workshops on performance, creative writing, and art as activism.
I earned my 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. I earned my BA in English and Women’s and Gender Studies from Loyola University Chicago, and my MA in English from UW-Madison. I am the author of “‘Will blackness please step out and take a curtain call?’: Ed Bullins’ Conceptual Theatre” (Modern Drama 62.3, 2019), “Plastiglomerates, Microplastics, Nanoplastics: Toward a Dark Ecology of Plastic Performativity” (Performance Research 25.2, 2020), and “Biological Plasticity and Performative Possibility in the work of Catherine Malabou and Curious” (Inter Views in Performance Philosophy: Crossings and Conversations, ed. J. Elliott, M. Pauker, and A. Street, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). My first book project, Conceptual Theatre: Race, Gender, and Dematerialization, explores the political potential of thought experiments in African American avant-garde drama and feminist performance art. My second book project, American Plasticity, draws upon eco-criticism, queer theory, and neuroscience to theorize synthetic plastic aesthetics in contemporary performance art, visual art, and pop culture. I have presented research at international conferences including Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Performance Studies International at Stanford University and University of Calgary, International Federation for Theatre Research at University of Arts in Belgrade, and Theatre, Performance, Philosophy at University of Paris-Sorbonne.
As a poet, playwright, and multimedia artist, I work at the interstices of text, performance, digital media, and installation. I am the author of the poetry chapbook The Infinite Woman (Greying Ghost, 2021) and the web app The Infinite Woman (Angular, 2019). I have performed and exhibited at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Chazen Museum of Art, Woman Made Gallery (Chicago, IL), Darling Foundry (Montréal, Québec), Stanford University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Paris-Sorbonne, Little Berlin (Philadelphia, PA), Co-Prosperity Sphere (Chicago), Commonwealth Gallery (Madison), University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery (Knoxville, TN), Mess Hall (Chicago), Madison Public Library Central Branch, Herron Galleries (Indianapolis, IN), Arts + Literature Laboratory (Madison), and i^3 Hypermedia (Chicago). My writing has been published by Ugly Ducking Presse (Brooklyn, NY), Metatron (Montréal, Québec), Rabbit Catastrophe Press (Lexington, KY), Oxeye Press (Madison, WI), Requited Journal (Chicago, IL), Word For/Word (Weston, WV), and Nat. Brut (Dallas, TX), and my plays have been staged at Hemsley Theatre (Madison, WI). In addition to my solo art practice I have a collaborative practice with SALYER + SCHAAG, with whom I have exhibited and performed widely. Our social practice project Performing MMoCA was selected for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA)’s 2016 Wisconsin Triennial exhibition.
As the 2017-2018 Mendota Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I developed courses in multimedia composition and rhetoric (visual, sonic, embodied, digital) and contemporary literature, visual art, and performance. I have five years of experience teaching African American and American literature; pop culture, film, and media studies; and multimodal composition. As a consultant at DesignLab, a transmedia storytelling center dedicated to democratizing digitality, I designed presentations, workshops, and curricular materials for emerging “smart media” genres such as visual essays, podcasts, and presentations. I have also developed several grant-supported creative process workshops with SALYER + SCHAAG: “Image/Text: The Performing Page” and “Collaboratory: Serious Play” at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, “Serious Play: Surrealist Experiments” at The Bubbler at Madison Public Library, and “Performance and 4D Art” at Arts + Literature Laboratory as part of the ArtWrite Collective’s Flourish! creative development series.
I co-founded the Art + Scholarship Borghesi-Mellon Workshop and the Madison Performance Philosophy Collective, with whom I co-curated a series of Theory-Practice Collaboratory workshops, a series of events with visiting artists, and two public symposia, MAD THEORY and MAD THEORY 2. I have also co-convened experimental roundtables at PSi (Performance Studies International) and M/MLA (Midwest Modern Language Association) exploring intersections of scholarly inquiry and creative practice. As a Humanities Without Walls National Fellow, I continue to explore ways to collaborate with multiple publics.