Kim Marra

Kim Marra

Professor Emeritus
BA, Dartmouth College
MA, Brown University
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Kim retired in 2021 after 31 years on the University of Iowa faculty. She was a Collegiate Fellow and professor of theatre and performance history and the Director of Graduate Studies. She held a quarter-time appointment in the American Studies Department, which she chaired from 2008 to 2011, and was affiliate faculty in Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies. She received a Collegiate Teaching Award in 1999.

Her book Strange Duets: Impresarios and Actresses in the American Theatre, 1865-1914 (The University of Iowa Press Studies in Theatre History and Culture Series, 2006) won the 2008 Joe A. Callaway Prize for Best Book on Drama or Theatre conferred biennially by NYU’s Department of English. She co-edited Passing Performances: Queer Readings of Leading Players in American Theater History (1998) and Staging Desire: Queer Readings of American Theater History (2002), The Gay and Lesbian Theatrical Legacy: A Biographical Dictionary of Major Figures of the American Stage in the Pre-Stonewall Era (2005); and Showing Off, Showing Up: Studies of Hype, Heightened Performance, and Cultural Power (2017), all for the University of Michigan Press. Her article entitled "Riding, Scarring, Knowing: A Queerly Embodied Performance Historiography" (Theatre Journal, December 2012), won the 2013 Outstanding Article Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and Honorable Mention for the Oscar Brockett Essay Prize of the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR).

She has served on the editorial boards of The University of Iowa Press, the Theatre in the Americas Series of Southern Illinois University Press, Theatre Survey, and Theatre History Studies, as well as on the Research and Publications Committee of ATHE. She is a former Secretary and Executive Board member of ASTR and a former board member of the American Theatre and Drama Society and Interdisciplinary Nineteenth Century Studies.  She is also an elected member and former Board member of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre.  She currently serves as Associate Editor of the Animal Lives Series of the University of Chicago Press. Since 2017, she has co-directed the Summer Institute in Human-Animal Studies jointly sponsored by the international Animals and Society Institute and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Kim’s ongoing research involves a digital arts and humanities project, The Pull of Horses, which synthesizes archival and live performance sources into a 75-minute large-scale immersive video animating historical human-equine interactions for scholarly and wider public audiences. The video aims to illuminate how horses shaped gender and other human identities and bodies in and beyond the emerging U.S. cultural capital, New York City, c. 1900 during a pivotal era of industrial transformation when 130,000 horses dwelled among 1.85 million people on the island of Manhattan.  The video premiered at the center of a University of Iowa Main Library Gallery Exhibit, “The Pull of Horses on National and Local Histories and Identities,” which ran from January 23 to March 17, 2020, when it was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Link to digital recordings of the film and exhibit. This project received the Honorable Mention for the 2021 Joint ATHE-ASTR Award for Excellence in Digital Scholarship.