Theresa Cowan - Part-time Lecturer
  • Faculty

    Theresa Cowan

    Part-time Lecturer

    Office Location:

    Lang Annex


    My current research is preoccupied with the staged and social life of grass-roots feminist, trans* and queer scenes, especially live and video performance, as well as literary and anti-literary cultures, new media and popular cultures. I study the ways that public and private cultures merge in the scenes created and inhabited by feminists, trans* people and queers, and how desire and economics intersect with and inform radical artists and activists and vice versa. I am interested in the aesthetics, epistemologies, orientations and ethics of activist cultural production, especially cabaret (the variety show). This work is importantly influenced by my participation in these scenes as a writer, performer, critic, curator and activist. 

    My first book, Poetry's Bastard: The Illegitimate Genealogies, Cultures and Politics of Spoken Word Performance, is under contract with Wilfrid Laurier UP (expected 2013). I am currently working towards a second monograph, provisionally entitled Sliding Scale: Translocal Feminist and Queer Cabaret Cultures, as well as an adjacent project, The Cabaret Commons: a collaborative, user-generated digital archive and anecdotal encyclopedia for feminist and queer artists, activists and audiences, with Jasmine Rault and Dayna McLeod.

    My artistic practice includes performance, video, cabaret, alter-ego performance, spoken word and installation-based work and has a focus on multidisciplinary collaboration. My earlier work includes The Twisted She Project (a collaborative intermedial collage in performance, video and sound art) and the GLITTERfesto: An Open Call in Trinity Formation For A Revolutionary Movement Of Activist Performance Based On The Premise That Social Justice is Fabulous. I am currently developing Queer Coping, a collaborative video project on queer, feminist and trans* experiences of familial religious violence, which is part of an ongoing performance cycle called Forgiving Medjugorje

    Overall, I am deeply committed to the knowledges, practices and aesthetics of transformational and decolonizing media, performance, subjects, agential objects and scenes. My art-research-activism moves through the politics, spaces and places of genre, memory, agitation, consolation, and perverse identities and identifications.

    Recent Publications:

    Journal Articles:
    “‘I remember . . . I was wearing leather pants’: Archiving the Repertoire of Feminist and Queer Cabaret in Canada.” Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace: Explorations in Canadian Women's Archives.” Eds. Linda Morra & Jessica Schagerl. Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2012. 65-86. 

    “Dayna McLeod's Post-Nationalist Beaver and the Cabaret Phenomenology of Putting Out.” Feminist Mediations. Eds. T.L. Cowan, Kate Eichhorn & Jasmine Rault. Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies. 25 (Spring 2011): 230-239. 

    “‘a one-shot deal’: Contemporary Cabaret as Improvised Curation.” Canadian Theatre Review.(CTR) 143  Summer 2010): 47-54. 

    “Punk Rock Clit Lit: Reading Toward a Punk Poetics in Bent on Writing: Contemporary Queer Tales.” Canadian Poetry. Ed. Andrew Lesk. 57 (Fall/Winter 2005): 103-121"

    Edited Journals

    Feminist Mediations. Co-Editor with Kate Eichhorn & Jasmine Rault. Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies. 25 (Spring 2011).


    Short Publications & Reviews:

    “Seeing & Being Seen at Meow Mix Cabaret.” Catalogue essay. Meow Mix Retrospective. Jan 10-Feb 2, 2013. RATS 9 Gallery. Montreal, Quebec. (Jan 2013). 

    “Reading Through Difference.” Review of Cherríe Moraga’s A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness: Writings 2000-2010. Women & Performance. [Forthcoming] 

    “Follow-up notes on the GLITTERfesto: TL Cowan in conversation with Tammy Pamalovovich, Aging Supermodel Lesbian Feminist Experimental Poet and Revolutionary.” Belladonna. “Transfeminism and Literature.” Vol. II. 147 (2012): 5-12. 

    “GLITTERfesto: An Open Call in Trinity Formation For A Revolutionary Movement Of Activist Performance Based On The Premise That Social Justice is Fabulous.” Canadian Theatre Review (CTR). Ed. Natalie Alvarez. 150 (Spring 2012): 11-17. 

    “cabaret at grunt: up your community.” Activating the Archives. Grunt Gallery, Vancouver. Spring 2012.

    “Harmonious Cacophony:’s Tightrope.” Canadian Review of Literature in Performance. 3 (Fall 2011).

    “Making it Better: Dayna McLeod’s Celluloid Fantasies, Feminist Queer Revisionary.” No More Potlucks. (Summer 2011).

    “The Queer Element & The Poison Cookie: Literature in Performance on the Cabaret Stage.” Canadian Review of Literature in Performance. 1.1 (February 2011). 

    Research Interests:

    Trans* feminist & queer visual culture, performance, literary & cultural studies; activist studies, new media & creative resistance; feminist & queer theory, especially aesthetics, epistemologies & theories of the transnational/translocal; speculative digital humanities; 20th & 21st-Century cabaret in Canada, Mexico, USA, France & Germany; 20th- & 21st-Century literary & anti-literary cultures; popular culture; genre theory; theories & practices of the avant-garde; performance writing, Performer Created Theatre.