John Muse

John Muse
Assistant Professor
  • Department of English
  • Committee on Theater and Performance Studies
Rosenwald 415D
(773) 702-2196

My research and teaching focus on modern and contemporary theater, modernist literature, and performance. I’m particularly interested in work that tests the boundaries of a given medium or the borders between media: plays that approach visual art, poems performed on stage, closet dramas, novels in dramatic form, metatheater and metafiction, and digital or otherwise virtual theater.

My current book project, for instance, explores the minimum boundaries of dramatic form by focusing attention on modernist microdramas. The book argues that short plays warrant at least as much attention as short stories, lyric poems, or short films, in part because the temporal medium of theater allowed modernist artists both to represent and unsettle emergent conceptions of time. Plays by figures like August Strindberg and Suzan-Lori Parks, F. T. Marinetti and Samuel Beckett demonstrate that theatrical time is relative in particular ways, that minimal compositions often magnify their subjects, and that a drama of impoverishment can enrich our understanding of the possibilities and limits of the theater.

Related teaching interests include media studies, performance studies, Renaissance drama, and global theater history.


2017-2018 Courses: Spring 2018, Theatre About Theatre (undergraduate), Virtual Theatres (graduate)

Graduate: Short Attention Span Fictions; Beckett and Media; Staging Modernism; History and Theory of Drama I

Undergraduate: Theater About Theater; Impossible Theaters; Beckett—Page, Stage, Screen; History and Theory of Drama I; Media Aesthetics: Text

Selected Publications

  • "Performance and the Pace of Empathy," Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 26.2 (Spring 2012).
  • "140 Characters in Search of a Theater: Twitter Plays," Theater 42.2 (Summer 2012).
  • "Flash Mobs and the Diffusion of Audience." Theater 40.3 (Summer 2010).
"Dimensions of the Moment: Modernist Shorts." Modern Drama 53.1 (Spring 2010).
  • "Eons in an Instant: The Paradoxes of Suzan-Lori Parks's 365 Days / 365 Plays." The Journal of American Drama and Theatre 22.1 (Winter 2010).
  • "The Craft of Naiyer Masud." Annual of Urdu Studies 21 (2006): 2-22.


Ph.D., Yale University, 2010. Teaching at Chicago since 2010.

Muybridge: Animal Locomotion Eadweard Muybridge. Animal Locomotion, Plate 163, detail.