Department of English

University of Toronto

Switzky, Lawrence

Lawrence Switzky
Associate Professor; Graduate Faculty; Undergraduate Instructor, University of Toronto Mississauga
UTM Office Phone: 905-569-4577
UTM Office Location: Deerfield Hall 1047
UTSG Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street, Room 813
Office Hours and/or Leave Status: by appointment

Teaching and Research Interests: Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Drama; modernisms; computation and the arts; theories of media and technology; performance theory

B.A. – Yale University (English); M.A., Ph.D. – Harvard University (English) 

I am currently completing a manuscript, The Rise of the Theatre Director: Encounters with the Material World, which demonstrates how theatre directing engaged with and produced new theories of materiality during the first half of the twentieth century.

My current research examines the place of theatre within the history of mass computation and artificial intelligence. In many ways, theatre anticipates the computer as a hypermedium that can contain, deploy, and re-mix the other media. I'm investigating how theatre has manifested or resisted the discrete logic of the digital-breaking up a continuous reality into non-continuous representations; the algorithmic and virtual basis of most of the past century of dramatic experimentation; and how automation might be reformulated through puppetry, ventriloquism, devising, and other performance traditions that delegate and distribute agency.

I am also co-editor (with David Kornhaber) of the quarterly journal Modern Drama.


Shakespeare's Things: Theatre and the Non-Human World in History, Theory, and Performance, co-edited with Brett Gamboa (Routledge, 2019); includes my introduction and an essay on object performance in Shakespeare: "Art, Objecthood, and the Extended Audience: Forced Entertainment's Complete Works"

Manuscript in progress, The Rise of the Theatre Director: Encounters with the Material World (under contract with Northwestern University Press).

"ELIZA EFFECTS: Pygmalion and the Early Development of Artificial Intelligence." Forthcoming in an upcoming special issue of SHAW on "Shaw and New Media" (Summer, 2020).

"Hungry for Interpretation: Woyzeck on the Highveld and the Polyphony of Performance." Co-authored with Veronika Ambros. Forthcoming in Theatralia, special issue on "Semiotics in Action" (forthcoming in 2020).

"Tadeusz Kantor and the Early Directorial Avant-Garde: Craig, Schlemmer, Meyerhold." Forthcoming in Theatermachine: Tadeusz Kantor in Context, ed. Kathleen Cioffi and Magda Romanska (Northwestern University Press, 2020).

Editor, Collected Works of Bernard Shaw, Vol. 2: Arms and the Man, The Devil's Disciple, Caesar and Cleopatra (under contract with Oxford University Press, forthcoming in 2020)

Guest Editor with Veronika Ambros. "Profile on South African Puppetry." Puppetry International, Spring/Summer 2017.

Entries on "Directors/Directing," "Bernard Shaw" and "Max Reinhardt" in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, ed. Penny Farfan et al. 2017

Guest Editor of Modern Drama 59:2 with Marlene Goldman, special issue on "Modern Drama, Aging, and the Life Course." Author of introductory essay on "Modern Drama, Aging, and the Life Course." Summer, 2016.

"Marriage Contract/Social Contract: Sources of the (Conjugal) Self in Shaw's Three Plays for Puritans." Marriages and Misalliances, ed. Bob Gaines. Palgrave, 2016.

"Transmedia Ethics: Why Theater Needs Philosophy Needs VR Needs Video Games." Theater, special issue on "Digital Feelings," Summer 2016.

"Media and Technology." Bernard Shaw in Context, ed. Brad Kent, Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Guest-Editor of SHAW: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies 35.1: Special Issue on "Bernard Shaw and Modernity." June 2015.Introductory essay: "Enchanted Shaw and Other Shavian Modernities."

"Allegory and its Limits in the Ring: Bernard Shaw and Patrice Chereau on Wagner." The Opera Quarterly 30:2, Summer 2015.

"Marathon Theatre as Affective Labour: Productive Exhaustion in The Godot Cycle and Life and Times." in Canadian Theatre Review vol. 162, special issue on "Performing Products," Spring 2015.

"Dramaturgy as Function, Skill and Verb." In The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy, ed. Magda Romanska. Routledge, 2014.

"Hamlet in the British Novel." in Hamlet Handbuch, ed. Peter Marx. Metzler Verlag, 2014.

"Shaw and Cruelty." Shaw and Feminisms: On Stage and Off, ed. D. A. Hadfield and Jean Reynolds. University Press of Florida, 2013.

"The Shelf Life of Shock: Alice Tuan's Ajax (por nobody) in the Flesh." TDR 57:3. Fall 2013.

"Hearing Double: Acousmatic Authority and the Rise of the Director." Modern Drama 54:2. Summer 2011. 29 pages.
-Co-winner of the 2011 Best Essay Award.

"Shaw Among the Modernists." SHAW: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies, vol. 31. 2011. 17 pages.

"The Last Word on Last Words: Shaw and Catastrophic Drama." SHAW: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies, vol. 27. 2008. 11 pages.

"The Return of the Prodigal" and "J. B. Priestley" in The Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama. Columbia University Press, 2007.

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