Maria De Simone earned an Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama in the School of Communication at Northwestern Unversity. Her dissertation retraces the off-stage and on-stage lives and personas of immigrant vaudeville performers in the United States between the 1870s and the 1920s. She is interested in immigrant artists’ deployments of racial impersonation as a stage device and as a tool to grapple with questions of identity, assimilation, and foreignness in America during the early 20th century. Dr. De Simone was the recipient of a Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellowship and was a graduate assistant in the Office of Fellowships for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Dr. De Simone, a Visiting Scholar in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown, teaches the spring 2022 GNSS course "Bold Bodies: Race in Feminist & Queer Performance." This course offers feminist/queer, minoritarian, and comparative perspectives to the study of race in performance. The course will define minoritarian aesthetics in both content and style, underscoring the practices that remake the world from minor voices. This course understands theatre and performance as crucial for personal and community expression, political activism, and survival. Students will explore a variety of representation and performance techniques from the last sixty years—theatre and drama, modern dance, performance art, fashion, film, and music—from geographical areas including but not limited to the United States. Performances and theories will spur discussions on topics such as body politics and sexualities, representation and spectatorship, understandings of race, and uses/limitations of performance in feminist/queer activism. This course will broaden students’ perspectives on what performance can do to advance racial and social justice through the subversive voices of minoritarian subjects.