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Theatre Academic
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March 2010
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Shari Perkins [userpic]
Scholarly Organizations and Associations

What various organizations should a theatre scholar join?


Frist two: ASTR and ATHE

I second ATHE and ASTR.

Others to think about: IFTR/FIRT, MATC (highest academic profile and probably the most national of the regional organizations).
I'd avoid the theatre subsections of NCA and ACA/PCA unless you're just looking to pad your resume in the short term: I didn't get a lot out of them, although of course things may have changed recently.

Beyond that, look at organizations in your specialty: my work deals with intersections of classical and Irish, so I'm in (or have been in) the American Conf. for Irish Studies, Intl. Assoc. for the Study of Irish Literatures, Intl. Soc. for the Classical Tradition, Classical Assoc. of the Mid-West and South...

May I say ARGH!? So expensive for someone who doesn't currently have an income... and is not yet enrolled in a graduate program. Though I am accepted to Middlebury's Russian MA... I wonder if that makes me a "student" ...

I'll definitely look into all the ones you have mentioned. I recently attended a couple conferences with my beau on bookish topics, and it has really interested me... Though the ratio of really good talks to rather pointless talks has been about 50-50 so far... I still think I could learn a LOT by getting more involved.

I generally go to two conferences a year: ATHE and one other, generally one where something I've been working on fits what they're looking for rather than trying to write something to fit. I've been a member of ASTR for 20 years or more and never been to one of their conferences, largely because of scheduling issues (they sure can find my tech weekends!). Two conferences that are more or less independent of organizations per se that I really like are the Comparative Drama Conference and the SETC Symposium. The latter is quite small (maybe 40 people), but the percentage of good work is quite high. The conference is indeed affiliated with SETC, but it's at a different time in a different city. There's a narrower theme (the year I went it was "Theatre, War and Propaganda"), so you probably won't go every year, but I really enjoyed it.

The major advantages to conferences is what happens outside the sessions--getting to talk with people who are doing the same work as you, or who are facing the same career hurdles. For someone like me who is the only really active scholar in my department in an isolated university town (the airport I use most frequently is in Houston, 2 1/2 hours away), just being reminded that there's someone else out there is valuable.

Assuming you go to Middlebury, you ought to be able to get at least partial funding if you're presenting: that eases the burden a lot. I even got a couple of $300-or-so grants from the Friends of the Theatre organization because I needed to go to Ireland for dissertation research.

Finally, don't overlook the small regional conferences: they're a great place to start, and easier to break into for grad students. There used to be a wonderful small conference at SUNY Cortland, for example--I don't think it's still around. It was called the Central New York Conference on Language and Literature, but I met people from Trinity College Dublin and the University of London there.

I don't think it is really necessary to pad my resume at this point ... I just think that it would be good to begin getting involved and seeing the work that is currently being produced. I mean, if I'm serious about pursuing a PhD, it's time to get focused.