AMCS is thrilled to announce that, effective July 1, 2022, Paige McGinley will be the new Director of American Culture Studies! AMCS Assistant Director Noah Cohan will serve as Interim Director of the program for the Spring semester of 2022.
Professor McGinley is Associate Professor of Performing Arts at Washington University in St. Louis and is Affiliate Faculty with American Culture Studies and the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity. She researches and writes about theater and performance in the U.S., mostly of the last hundred years. Her written works, both published and in-process, document and highlight the contributions of Black performing artists, among them musicians, actors, and playwrights, and underscore the centrality of Black cultural production to American theater and popular entertainment more generally.
McGinley's first book, Staging the Blues: From Tent Shows to Tourism (Duke University Press), offers an interdisciplinary account of blues’ roots in theatrical performance and popular entertainment, and the enduring presence of theatrical techniques in later-twentieth-century blues. Staging the Blues was recognized with the John W. Frick Book Award from the American Theater and Drama Society and the American Society for Theatre Research’s Errol Hill Award for outstanding scholarship in African American theater and performance.
McGinley’s work also explores the ways the racial logics and hierarchies in the U.S. have been constituted and contested through embodied performances in and of everyday life. Such questions are at the center of her book-in-progress, Rehearsing Civil Rights, an in-depth examination of an ethos and culture of rehearsal embedded within the Black freedom struggle in the form of improvisational exercises, role-playing scenarios, and large-scale simulations from the early 1930s to the late 1960s.
Born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania, McGinley earned her B.A. from Trinity College before completing her Ph.D. in Theater and Performance Studies at Brown University. She served on the faculty at Yale University before joining Washington University in St. Louis as an Assistant Professor in 2013. She has been an active member of the AMCS community since her arrival, teaching courses, advising students, and convening (with Prof. Pat Burke) the "RPM: Race and Popular Music" working group and (with Prof. Amber Musser) the "Voice and Sexuality" working group and symposium.