Laura Edmondson

Associate Professor of Theater and Department Chair
Affiliated with African and African American Studies
Affiliated with Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Laura Edmondson is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theater, where she teaches courses on postcolonial African drama, human rights and performance, and world theater history. She has published widely on East and Central African theater and performance, including articles in Theatre Journal, Theatre Research International, TDR, and the anthologies African Performance Arts (Routledge 2002) and Violence Performed (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Her book, Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage, was published by Indiana University Press in 2007. Her research has been supported by grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the American Association of University Women, and the Fulbright Program. Her second book, Performing Trauma in Central Africa: Shadows of Empire (forthcoming in 2018, Indiana University Press), explores the commodification of trauma through performance and cultural production in northern Uganda, postgenocide Rwanda, and the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As a playwright, she has collaborated in the creation of Forged in Fire with Ugandan performer Okello Kelo Sam and Tanzanian musician Robert Ajwang, which integrates music, dance, and text to explore Okello's experiences of the LRA conflict in northern Uganda. Forged in Fire was produced at the Voorhees Theatre (Brooklyn) in 2015; excerpts of the play have been published in Refugee Performance (Intellect Books and the University of Chicago Press, 2012). Prior to coming to Dartmouth, she held positions at the University of Georgia and Florida State University. She has also taught at the Bagamoyo College of Arts in Tanzania and in the Department of Literature at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

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Teaching statement: I delight in using the classroom as a means of broadening the aesthetic and cultural horizons of my students. Although my specialization in the performance culture of Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania informs much of my teaching, I teach a wide variety of international theatre traditions ranging from historical surveys of European theatre to postcolonial African drama. Whether I’m teaching Republican Roman comedy or Nigerian political theatre, I encourage my students to perceive the world in more nuanced and multifaceted ways. I’m also invested in integrating creative and intellectual work in the classroom—in addition to close reading of the texts, guided discussions, and writing assignments, my students also get “on their feet” through a range of creative explorations of the assigned plays.  

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#105 Shakespeare Alley, Hopkins Center
HB 6204
African and African American Studies
Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
B.A. Indiana University at Bloomington
M.A. University of Texas at Austin
Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin

Selected Publications

Forged in Fire by Okello Kelo Sam, Laura Edmondson, and Robert Ajwang.  Voorhees Theatre in Brooklyn, NY. 2015.

“Uganda Is Too Sexy: Reflections on Kony 2012.” TDR 56.3 (Fall 2012). 10-17.

Forged in Fire (play). By Okello Kelo Sam, Laura Edmondson, and Robert Ajwang. Excerpted in Refugee Performance: Practical Encounters. Ed. Michael Balfour. Bristol, UK and Chicago: Intellect Books and the University of Chicago Press, 2012. 61-66.

Eat Like a Bird (play). In Cultural Conversations: Works in Progress, Writers in the Making, ed. Susan B. Russell (Lemont, PA: Eifrig Publishing, 2011), 91-132. 

"Confessions of a Failed Theatre Activist: Intercultural Encounters in Uganda and Rwanda." In Avant-Garde Performance and Material Exchange: Vectors of the Radical, edited by Mike Sell.  Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. 41-59.

“Genocide Unbound: Erik Ehn, Rwanda, and an Aesthetics of Discomfort,” Theatre Journal, 61:1 (March 2009): 65-83.

Review essay: "Performing Africa."  African Affairs 109 (2009): 151-160.

“The Poetics of Displacement and the Politics of Genocide in Three Plays about Rwanda,” in Violence Performed: Local Roots and Global Routes of Conflict, edited by Patrick Anderson and Jisha Menon.  Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.  54-78.

Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage, Indiana University Press, 2007.

“Of Sugarcoating and Hope,” TDR, 51:2 (May 2007): 7-10.

“Marketing Trauma and the Theatre of War in Northern Uganda,” Theatre Journal, 57:3 (2005): 451-474.

“Love in the Time of Dissertations: An Ethnographic Tale,” with R O Ajwang, Qualitative Inquiry, 9:3 (June 2003): 466-480.

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Works in Progress

Performing Trauma in Central Africa: Shadows of Empire.  Forthcoming in 2018 from Indiana University Press.

Forged in Fire