2012 Ph.D. Theatre Studies, Florida State University
2008 M.A. Theatre Studies, Florida State University
2003 B.A. Theatre Arts, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Academic Appointments

2024-present Associate Professor, Florida State University
2018-2024 Assistant Professor, Florida State University
2015-2018 Assistant Professor, University of Central Florida
2014-2015 Visiting Lecturer, Dartmouth College
2013-2014       Visiting Assistant Professor, Florida State University
2012-2013       Visiting Lecturer, Dartmouth College

Awards and Nominations

  • Florida Theatre Conference Distinguished Career in University/College Theatre

    Each year the Florida Theatre Conference recognizes individuals in the state of Florida that have made a contributing effort in the area of Community Theatre, Professional Theatre, University/College Theatre, Theatre for Youth, and High School Theatre. The Board solicits names from the general membership for these awards. Since 1986, these awards have been given to persons in the state of Florida that have made a difference in their area. I was given this award for the 2023 conference.

  • Honorable Mention - ATHE Outstanding Article Award

    “Infelicities” received the honorable mention for Outstanding Article. From the podium, awards committee chair Michelle Liu Carriger said: Aaron C. Thomas’s article “Infelicities” traces the branching uses of the word “performative” across many strands of performance studies, resulting in a new essential text. One committee member noted that this was the article that had already changed their teaching and thinking, and another called it the “most deft complication of the bad object-good object, real/fake, performance/theatre binary since, and probably including, the original texts.”

  • NEH Summer Institute: Diverse Philosophical Approaches to Sexual Violence

    A two-week National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for twenty faculty studying sexual violence. The institute was held at Elon University in North Carolina and hosted by Dr. Ann Cahill. Application to the institute was competitive and acceptance carried a monetary award.

  • Academic Leadership Award

    Award presented to a single student in each College at Florida State University; the award is based on academic performance, university service, and other contributions both in and out of the classroom.

  • Certificate of Recognition for Advocacy in the Arts

    Award presented by the Florida Higher Education Arts Network as a part of the Florida Culture Alliance’s Arts & Culture Day.

  • Transformation through Teaching nomination, FSU Spiritual Life Project

    Honors faculty members who have had an intellectual, inspirational, and integrative impact on the lives of their students. Nominations submitted by students.

  • Theory & Criticism Award for Excellence in Graduate Scholarship

    Awarded to “The Erotics of Male/Male Rape?” by the Theory & Criticism Focus Group for the best graduate-student paper utilizing theory or criticism presented at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education conference in Chicago 2011.

Professional Activities

  • ASTR Thomas Marshall Graduate Student Awards Committee

    Each year the American Society for Theatre Research awards three grants of $800 each in honor of the late Thomas F. Marshall, a distinguished theatre scholar and founder of ASTR, who took particular interest in the encouragement and support of promising students in the field of theatre research. The purpose of the grants is to encourage students to become active members of the Society by helping them to meet the expenses of attending the ASTR annual meeting in November. ASTR conference registration fees will be waived for grant recipients.

  • ATHE Edited Works Award Committee

    The Edited Works Award for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education recognizes between one and three edited projects in the fields of theatre and/or performance that demonstrate complex and critical engagement with dramatic texts, performances, histories, theories, practices, and/or pedagogies.

  • Imagined Theatres Journal


    Serving as a member of the editorial board for the new online journal Imagined Theatres, edited by Daniel Sack.

  • ATHE Program Conference Committee


    Serving on the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s Conference Committee for the 2022 conference in Detroit organized by Jen-Scott Mobley.

  • ATHE Program Conference Committee


    Served on the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s Conference Committee for the 2019 conference in Orlando organized by Andrew Gibb. The conference theme was Scene Changes: Performing, Teaching, and Working through the Transitions.

  • ASTR Collaborative Research Award Committee

    Served on the American Society for Theatre Research Awards Committee for the Collaborative Research Award.

  • ATHE – LGBTQ Focus Group

    My home at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. I served as an at-large board member for 2008-2009, as the treasurer from 2010-2013 and 2015-2018, and as the focus group representative for 2016-2017. My work with this Focus Group has also involved preconference-planning as well as our most recent name-change, which added the Q.

  • ASTR Program Conference Committee

    Served on the American Society for Theatre Research Program Conference Committee for the 2018 conference in San Diego organized by Chase Bringardner,  Christin Essen, and Kirsten Pullen. The conference theme was Arousal: Theatre, Performance, Embodiment.

  • Song, Stage and Screen Program Committee

    Served on the Program Committee for Song, Stage and Screen XIII. The 2018 conference was held at UCLA’s new Center for Musical Humanities under the direction of Raymond Knapp, Holley Replogle-Wong, and Jessica Sternfeld. The conference theme was The Musical and Its Others, Then and Now.

  • ATHE Subcommittee on Diversity

    This subcommittee was developed and headed by the president of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Patricia Ybarra. The group was tasked with tackling the issue of diversity within university and college theatre departments.

  • ASTR Task Force for Working Conditions

    This task force was formed at the pleasure of the president of the American Society for Theatre Research. The group investigates labor in the university system as well as ways in which national organizations such as ASTR can work to assist those working in these systems.

Interviews and Other Citations

  • Shadow Play: Loss and Performativity

    Amy Cook cites “Infelicities” in her article for TDR 67.4: “Aaron Thomas rigorously and helpfully explains just how confused and confusing this term has become, even among those of us in theatre and performance studies: ‘There has been an extraordinary and puzzling laxity around uses of this word by editors and journals in the field so that performative has become not only hard to pin down, as Schechner would have it, but, as I argue here, consistently and reliably infelicitous.’ Thomas prompts us to think more about “how is this performative?” rather than to state that something is performative: What can we say about works of art when we see how some can be performative?”

  • On Quitting: Dave Chappelle’s The Closer and Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette

    Sarah Balkin cites “Infelicities” in her article “On Quitting: Dave Chappelle’s The Closer and Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette” in TDR 67.1. The article engages with my interest in performances that fail, playfully puns on my title, and engages with my idea that “our very desire for felicitous performatives” might “be working to obscure the manifold possibilities of performance as such.”

  • 11 Must-Read Theatre Books for March

    Molly Higgins mentions Love Is Love Is Love as a March 2023 “Must Read” on the Playbill website along with Ben Francis’s Sondheim book, Careful the Spell You Cast, Seth Rudetsky’s Musical Theatre for Dummies, and Sheryl Lee Ralph’s autobiography, Diva 2.0.

  • The Routledge Introduction to American Drama

    In his discussion of A Raisin in the Sun (chapter 13), Paul Thifault cites my reading of Lena Younger’s plant as a figure for the African Diaspora in the United States, and he footnotes my argument against interpretations of the play as about middle-class dreams of home ownership.

  • Paradoxes of Stillness in Caroline, or Change

    Anouk Bottero cites “Engaging an Icon” in her discussion of the way stillness functions in Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner’s musical Caroline, or Change in her article “Paradoxes of Stillness in Caroline, or Change” in the journal Studies in Musical Theatre 16.3.

  • ATHE Awards 2022: Interview with Michelle Liu Carriger

    Michelle Liu Carriger, chair of the 2022 Outstanding Article Award committee for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, interviews me about my article “Infelicities”. I speak about the article’s genesis, some of its main arguments, and my feelings.

  • On TAP: a Theatre & Performance Studies Podcast, episode 052

    Pannill Camp, Sarah Bay-Cheng, Leticia Ridley, and Jordan Ealey discuss (as their first segment of the pod) the #PerformativeX special section in JDTC. Pannill and Sarah both refer back to their arguments about this on episode 032, and Pannill gives me a specific shout-out, calling my essay “Infelicities” “super super useful,” and saying, “Having read what he says about uses of ‘the performative’ on Twitter I expected this to be kind of a rant. It’s not a rant. It’s an extremely rigorous methodical survey of the different ways that the term performative has been used in our field.”

  • #TheatreClique

    In the August 15th issue of Brian Eugenio Herrera’s weekly newsletter he says some lovely things about my essay “Infelicities”. He calls my essay a “fascinating (and expert) excavation of the unruly, unkempt genealogy of “the performative” — as both critical keyword and term of intellectual art — [that] allows us to anchor current certitudes over the word’s meaning in the often surprising complexities of the past.”

  • Read More Plays

    I appear on episode 21 of Jennifer Sassaman and Ricardo Frederick Evans’ podcast Read More Plays to talk about Robert O’Hara’s play Bootycandy and how hilarious it is. It was great to be able to talk about how brilliant this play is and how wonderfully it references Black theatre history and asks fascinating questions about sexuality.

  • The Domestic Sphere as Counter-surveillance in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun

    In the Winter issue of Modern Drama, Kelsey Kiser uses my essay “Watching A Raisin in the Sun and Seeing Red” as a kind of jumping off point for her argument about Hansberry’s portrayal of the domestic sphere as a space of counter-surveillance. Kiser’s article is entitled “The Domestic Sphere as Counter-surveillance in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun“, and she gives me a nod by titling one of her subheadings “Reading A Raisin in the Sun as Red”

  • Gangletown

    David Kimple interviewed me for the December 28 issue of his weekly newsletter gangletown. The interview is included in his issue “Summing Up 2020”, in which he asks me about the annual “Summing Up” post I put on my (mostly movie-centered) blog Tea to Pour. David also calls me gorgeous. It’s a very sweet interview.

  • The Play in the System: the Art of Parasitical Resistance

    Anna Watkins Fisher footnotes my essay “Viewing the Pornographic Theatre: Explicit Voyeurism, Artaud, and Ann Liv Young’s Cinderella” in her new book out from Duke University Press as one example of theatre scholarship’s interest in the work of Ann Liv Young.

  • In a Minor Key: Queer Kinship in Times of Grief

    Pavithra Prasad cites an idea from “My Father’s Pulse” in her piece “In a Minor Key: Queer Kinship in Times of Grief” for the Spring 2020 (7.1) issue of QED: a Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking as she thinks about chosen families, biological families, and queer kinship experienced through loss.

  • Choreography in the Age of Post-Privacy: Sex, Intimacy, and Disclosure in Pina Bausch and Michael Parmenter

    Alexandra Kolb cites my book chapter “Viewing the Pornographic Theatre” in her essay in Dance Chronicle 43.1. Her essay critically interrogates the trend toward the exposure of intimate life and sexuality in performance by examining Pina Bausch’s Window Washer (1997) and Michael Parmenter’s A Long Undressing (1995), and she cites my assessment of Ann-Liv Young’s Cinderella to discuss the possibilities of the pornographic.

  • Staging Freedom

    Julie Burrell cites my article “Watching A Raisin in the Sun and Seeing Red” in her book Staging Freedom: the Civil Rights Theatre Movement in New York, 1939–1966. Burrell’s book appears in the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History series.

  • Sweeney Todd at the Yale Dramatic Association

    Director Noam Shapiro cites the last section of my book Sondheim and Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd in the notes for his production of Sweeney at the Yale Dramatic Association in late November 2019: “To many, Sweeney Todd depicts a world in which everything bends towards destruction. But, as Sondheim scholar Aaron C. Thomas reminds us, the musical is also a fable—the ‘Ballad’ insists on this—and it’s a story that has been told countless times and with different variations across generations. Thinking about the show as the repetition of a tragic ritual opens up a space for hope: The tale can be told differently. Perhaps the next time we feel the pull of the violence that we’ve ritualized as a society we will simply say no. It’s in our power to break the cycle. But there’s work to be done, so much work.”

  • Randolph Theater Goes Old School with The Sea Voyage

    This article for the Lynchburg News and Advance takes a decidedly obnoxious tone (referring to The Sea Voyage as “hella old”), but I was happy to speak to The Burg about Jacobean Theatre, Renaissance comedy, and my friend Patrick Earl’s production of John Fletcher and Philip Massinger’s play at Randolph College.

  • Sondheim Scholarship: an Overview

    In the Studies in Musical Theatre (13.2) special issue on the work of Stephen Sondheim, Robert Gordon includes my book Sondheim and Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd and Olaf Jubin’s book Sondheim and Lapine’s Into the Woods in his overview of recent Sondheim scholarship. (pp. 197-204)

  • On TAP: a Theatre & Performance Studies Podcast, episode 032

    Pannill Camp, Sarah Bay-Cheng, and Harvey Young discuss (as their third segment of the pod) my constant griping about the confusing misuse and abuse of the term performative by scholars in the field of theatre and performance studies to mean something akin to the word theatrical.

  • No Guts, No Glory: Wolfbane Bringing Sweeney Todd to the Stage

    I was interviewed for The Burg, also known as Lynchburg’s News and Advance, about director Dustin Williams’ production of Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The piece, by Emma Schkloven, includes a good deal of information found in the first chapter of my book Sondheim and Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd.

  • Maverick Debuts Solo Show of Song and Dance

    This a promotional article on Broadway World Miami describing Nicky Wood’s one-man show Yes Sir, That’s My Broadway at the Barn Theatre in Stuart, FL. Nicky gives me a shout-out as one of his inspirational and passionate theatre history teachers. What a sweetheart!

  • An Artist Celebration: the Impact of Joe Orton

    For Samuel French’s Breaking Character Magazine. This is a roundtable interview about the continuing importance of the playwright Joe Orton. David Kimple interviewed producers David Dreyfoos and Annie Keefe, performer Kate Reynolds, and me.

  • UCF Professor is Smithsonian Bound

    For NSM Today, a UCF student publication, I was given the opportunity to discuss Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz’s work, linking her piece Pieta to performances in which mothers grieve for their children onstage throughout theatre history. The piece was written by Desiree Montilla.

  • The Human Body in Contemporary Dance: from Costumes to Nakedness

    Maria Tsouvala & Katia Savrami cite my chapter on explicit performance and Ann Liv Young’s Cinderella in their piece “The Human Body in Contemporary Dance: from Costumes to Nakedness” which appears in Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques issue 13 (June 2016).

  • Obstruction

    Nick Salvato very generously cites a talk I gave in 2014 entitled “In Search of a Culture That Isn’t Appropriate/d” in his (truly brilliant) book Obstruction from Duke University Press.

  • Performative Reviews and Phantom Audiences

    For volume 1, issue 1 of PARtake: the Journal of Performance as Research, Lynn Deboeck makes an argument about the way that reviewers performatively (?) construct phantom audiences in their reviews. Her chief object of study in the article is the performance reviews section of Theatre Journal 68.1, edited by Daniel Sack, in which I have a piece on Matthew Aucoin’s opera Crossing. The author discusses my piece extensively (pp. 4-6).

  • (Re)constructing Maternal Performance in Twentieth-century American Drama

    L. Bailey McDaniel cites my essay “Engaging an Icon” in her book (Re)constructing Maternal Performance in Twentieth-century American Drama from Palgrave Macmillan. Her book’s third chapter is about mammies and sexuality in Cheryl West’s Jar the Floor, Alfred Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy, and Tony Kushner & Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline, or Change, and so she cites my discussion of Caroline’s sexuality in that musical.