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Dr. Canning received her doctorate from the University of Washington. She is the author of Feminist Theaters In The USA: Staging Women's Experience (Routledge, 1996) and The Most American Thing in America: Circuit Chautauqua as Performance (Iowa, 2005) which won the 2006 Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History. This award is given each year to the best book in “theatre history or cognate disciplines,” and Dr. Canning was the first member of the UT faculty to receive this prestigious award. Her most recent book is Representing the Past: Essays in Performance Historiography, co-edited with Tom Postlewait, (University of Iowa Press, 2010) and she is under contract with Palgrave Macmillan for her next monograph, On the Performance Front: US Theatre and Internationalism. The University of Texas Press has invited her to write a book on Texas theatre history for their nationally recognized series, Texas Bookshelf, capturing the history and experiences of Texas. She has published in many journals, including Theatre Topics, Theatre Research International, Theatre Survey, Theatre Journal, Theatre Annual, Theatre, and LIT: Literature, Interpretation Theory. Her work has also been included in such anthologies as Staging International Feminisms, Restaging the Sixties: Radical Theatres and their Legacies, Women Writing Plays: Three Decades of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Land/Scape/ Theatre, Performing America: Cultural Nationalism in American Theater, Women, Theatre, and Performance: The New Historiographies, Twentieth Century American Drama, and Virtual Gender: Fantasies of Embodied Space and Subjectivity.
She teaches theatre/performance history and historiography, as well as feminist performance theory. Additionally, she heads the Performance as Public Practice MA/MFA/PhD Programs in the department and is the Head of the Oscar G. Brockett Center for Theatre History and Criticism. She serves as the Associate Chair for the Performance Studies and Pedagogy division of the department and is an affiliate faculty member in the Departments of American Studies, African and African Diaspora Studies, and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.
Dr. Canning has served as the book review editor for Theatre Journal, president of the Women and Theatre Program, and associate dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Fine Arts. She is a past president of the American Society for Theatre Research. Currently she serves as the Senior Editor for Theatre Research International, the journal of the International Federation for Theatre Research and Cambridge University Press’ most read performance journal title.