Shannon Jackson

Performance Studies, Rhetoric


Shannon Jackson is the Cyrus and Michelle Hadidi Chair in the Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is Professor of Rhetoric and of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. In the fall of 2015, she was appointed to be the first Associate Vice Chancellor for the Arts and Design (AVCAD). In this leadership position, Jackson reports to both UC-Berkeley’s Chancellor and to its Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. Her office is responsible for creating new operations and collaborations across departments, centers, presenting organizations, and initiatives in the arts and design for the entire campus. The AVCAD office facilitates communication platforms, research initiatives, student arts access programs, curricular innovation, multi-unit fundraising, public engagement, facilities planning, and local and global partnerships in the arts and design across the campus and with local and international organizations.

Jackson’s own research and teaching focuses on two broad, overlapping domains 1) collaborations across visual, performing, and media art forms and 2) the role of the arts in social institutions and in social change. Her most recent book is The Builder’s Association: Performance and Media in Contemporary Theater (M.I.T. Press, 2015).  Her previous books include Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics (Routledge 2011), Lines of Activity: Performance, Historiography, and Hull-House Domesticity (2000) and Professing Performance: Theatre in the Academy from Philology to Performativity (2004).  “Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Commons,” co-edited with Johanna Burton and Dominic Willsdon, is forthcoming from the New Museum/M.I.T. Press. Other projects include the guest-edited Valuing Labor in the Arts with Art Practical, a forthcoming special issue of Representations on time-based art, and an online platform of keywords in experimental art and performance, In Terms of Performance, created in collaboration with the Pew Center for Art and Heritage. Her writing has also appeared in dozens of museum catalogues, journals, blogs, and edited collections.

Jackson has received numerous awards, including a 2015 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lilla Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Performance Studies (NCA), the ATHE Best Book Award, Honorable Mention for the John Hope Franklin Prize, the Kahan Scholar’s Prize in Theatre History (ASTR), and the Arts and Humanities Outstanding Service Award.  She has received fellowships from the Spencer Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as several collaborative project grants from the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, UCIRA, the Creative Work Fund, the Pedar Sather Center, the San Francisco Foundation, and the LEF Foundation.

Jackson serves on the boards of Cal Performances, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Berkeley Center for New Media, the English Institute, and the Oakland Museum of California. She also serves on the advisory boards of several journals and arts organizations; she has been a plenary speaker at a variety of distinguished venues, including most recently the Venice Biennial, ArtCOP21, the Chicago Humanities Festival, the PUBLIC Theater, Tate Modern, Creative Time, the Sorbonne, the Museum of Modern Art, SFMOMA, Open Engagement, the Ibsen International Festival in Oslo, the Blaffer Museum, The Kitchen, Cooper Union, the Yale School of Drama, Harvard’s Spencer Lecture in Drama, and many other universities and art organizations. She has organized dozens of conferences, symposia, and artist residencies with the Arts Research Center, the Global Urban Humanities Initiative, Art Practical, Cal Performances, BAMPFA, Open Engagement, The Builders Association, Touchable Stories, American Society of Theatre Research, the American Studies Association, the Women and Theatre Project, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Multi-campus Research Group on International Performance, UCB’s Center for Community Innovation, and with the civic governments of Berkeley, San Francisco, and Richmond, California.

Shannon was an Erasmus Mundus visiting professor in Paris at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Nord and at the Université Libre de Bruxelles for the 2008-09 academic year. Before moving to Berkeley, she was an assistant professor of English and Literature at Harvard University from 1995 to 1998.