Michelle Granshaw

  • Associate Professor / Director of Graduate Studies

Michelle Granshaw received her PhD in Theatre History, Theory, and Criticism from the University of Washington. Her research interests include American and Irish theatre and popular entertainment, diaspora and global performance histories, performance and the working class, and historiography.  

At the University of Pittsburgh, she teaches in the BA, MA, and PhD programs. She is affiliate faculty with the Global Studies Center, the European Union Center of Excellence/European Studies Center, Gender, Sexuality, and Women Studies Program, and Cultural Studies.

As a theatre and cultural historian, Dr. Granshaw focuses on impoverished, disenfranchised, and immigrant communities and how they shaped and were influenced by the embodied and imaginative practices within theatre and performance. Her work explores how theatre and performance functions within poor and migrant communities in several ways: as strategies for practical and imaginative community building; cultural institutions that express group identity as well as reinforce dominant social and cultural expectations and prejudices; and methods of social and cultural resistance, adaptation, and survival. Her book, Irish on the Move: Performing Mobility in American Variety Theatre (University of Iowa Press, 2019) analyzes how what she calls “dramaturgies of mobility” -- repeated narratives, types, images, strategies, and performative practices -- participated in systems of meaning pertaining to mobility and informed systematic oppression as well as served as strategies for survival for migrant, ethnic, and racial groups. Dr. Granshaw won the 2013 Hibernian Research Award from the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, 2014 American Theatre and Drama Society Faculty Travel Award, and 2016-2017 Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship in the Humanities in support of her book. A conference paper that became part of Chapter 1 entitled "Inventing the Tramp: The Early Tramp Comic on the Variety Stage” won the 2018 Robert A. Schanke Theatre Research Award at the Mid-America Theatre Conference. She is working on two new projects. One focuses on the relationship between transatlantic Irish popular performance and the emergence of modern urban sectarian violence in Belfast. The second is a narrative history of the fight for the right to amusement and black civil rights after the Civil War.

Dr. Granshaw’s articles have appeared in Theatre Survey, Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film, Popular Entertainment Studies, Journal of American Drama and Theatre, Theatre Topics, and the New England Theatre Journal. Her reference articles have appeared in The Atlas of Boston History: The Making of a City and BlackPast.org. In 2014, Dr. Granshaw was awarded the American Theatre and Drama Society Vera Mowry Roberts Award for Research and Publication for her Theatre Survey (January 2014) article “The Mysterious Victory of the Newsboys: The Grand Duke Theatre’s 1874 Challenge to the Theatre Licensing Law.”

Dr. Granshaw has presented her research at the American Society for Theatre Research, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and Mid-America Theatre Conference. She has served on committees for the American Theatre and Drama Society, American Society for Theatre Research, and Mid-America Theatre Conference.

In October 2015, Dr. Granshaw organized the “Spectacles of Labor: Performance and the Working Class” symposium at the University of Pittsburgh, which was supported by the Humanities Center, Provost’s Year of the Humanities, Center on Race and Social Problems, Departments of Theatre Arts, English, and History of Art and Architecture, and the 2015 Co-Sponsored Event Award from the American Society for Theatre Research. Attended by faculty from across the country, students, and Pittsburgh union leaders and community members, the symposium approached questions about labor and performance from an interdisciplinary perspective and examined critical questions about the ways that spectacles of labor function as sites of negotiation, revolution, and containment.

Dr. Granshaw also works as a dramaturg. She has served on a variety of productions, including August Wilson’s Piano Lesson and Adolphe d’Ennery’s The Two Orphans. In Spring 2015, she served as the dramaturg for the UPitt Stages production of The Curse of the Starving Class. 

In Spring 2020, she is teaching THEA 1903: Seminar in Theatre Arts with a focus on dramaturgy.

Representative Publications

Research Interest Summary

American theatre and popular entertainment, diaspora and global performance histories, performance and the working class, and historiography

Research Interests

US and Irish theatre and popular entertainment, diaspora and global performance histories, performance and the working class, and historiography

Education & Training

  • PhD, Theatre History, Theory, and Criticism, University of Washington, 2012
  • MA, Theatre and Performance STudies, University of Maryland, 2007
  • BA, History and Dramatic Literature, Theatre History, and Cinema, New York University, 2005