Carlson award

Marvin Carlson Award

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The Department of Performing and Media Arts hosts a yearly contest for The Marvin Carlson Award for Best Student Essay in Theatre or Performance. This award honors CUNY Professor Marvin Carlson (CU PhD '61). 

Marvin Carlson is Sidney E. Cohn Distinguished Professor of Theatre, Comparative Literature, and Middle Eastern Studies at the Graduate Centre, CUNY. He earned a PhD in Drama and Theatre from Cornell University (1961), where he also taught for a number of years. Marvin has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens, Greece, the ATHE Career Achievement Award, the ASTR Distinguished Scholarship Award, the Bernard Hewitt prize, the George Jean Nathan Award, the Calloway Prize, the George Freedley Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is the founding editor of the journal Western European Stages and the author of over two hundred scholarly articles and fifteen books that have been translated into fourteen languages. His most recent books are Ten Thousand Nights: Highlights from 50 Years of Theatre-Going (2017) and Hamlet's Shattered Mirror: Theatre and the Real (2016). 

The award consists of a cash prize ($250) and certificate and is given to the best essay in theatre and performance by a Cornell student (graduate or undergraduate). 

Submission Guidelines:

  • Essays must be unpublished.

  • Essays should not exceed 25 pages.

  • Students may submit only one entry per year.

  • Entrants should provide four copies of the essay to be considered. Only the title page should contain the student’s name and contact email, as this is a blind submission.

  • Submissions are due by 4:00 p.m. on April 15, 2019, at the reception desk, second floor of the Schwartz Center. Late entries will not be accepted.

For more information, email Associate Professor Sara Warner at

Past Winners:

2019: Zhisheng (Ivy) Deng: "Weaving a Nation: Surfaces in the Beijing 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony" and Kelly Richmond: "Re-Presenting Decolonial Praxis: Transforming the Terms of Coloniality in Reverb-ber-ber-rations and The Scrubbing Project" (tie)

2018: Sahar Tavakoli: "The Butcher, the Baker, the Policy Maker: Food Politics and the Making of ‘Camp Nationalism.’”

2017: Caitlin A. Kane: "We Write History on Our Bodies: Queer Archival Performance as an Act of Love,” and Samuel Blake (honorable mention): "Spinning Webs: Queer Myth Making and the Utopian Potential of Queer Youth Theatre”  

2016: Kristen Wright: “The Killing of My Mother I Shall Claim Myself:  Adrienne Kennedy’s Electra and Orestes, Aeschylus’ Oresteia, and the Question of Justice,” and Stephen Low (honorable mention): “The Liberating Theatrical Femininity of Nina Arsenault” 

2015: Erin Stoneking: “(Re)Performing the American Civil War: Time, Memory, and Nation-making in Paula Vogel’s A Civil War Christmas” 

2014: Nick Fesette: "Performance, Prison Strike, Zombie: Steve McQueen's Hunger and the 'Reflection Machine'"

2013: Graduate winner: John Robbins: “‘A modest virgin hath no choice’: Joanna Baillie’s The Brideand the Staging of Foreclosure.” Undergraduate winner: Olivia Powell: “Waiting for Recognition: Misrepresentation in Review and Scholarship of Odets’s Waiting for Lefty”

2012: Andrew Bielski: “Spectatorship in the Theatres of Althusser and Badiou”  

2011: Jimmy Noriega: "Performing Latin American Responses to 9-11 and Iraq: Political Theatre and Popular Resistance in the Age of Terror" 

2010: Alex Black (Gonzales) 

2009: Lindsey Cummings: "The Dialects of Affect in Naomi Wallace's One Flea Spare," and Nicholas Tobin Roth (honorable mention): “(Hitch)cock on the Mind: Queer Paranoia and the Practice of Viral Paronomasia in Joe Orton’s Loot"