Courtney Colligan

Courtney Colligan, PhD (2023)

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
Big question! Honestly, I didn’t feel *done.* I didn’t feel done learning and knew that I wanted to pursue academia as a career potentially. After graduating undergrad with a BA in Acting and English Literature, I applied to English programs to continue my education. My time at Virginia Tech for my Master’s instilled my love of teaching, so I kept going! However, I missed the discussions of the stage and the nuance of reading a play as text versus reading a play as a performance. From there, I applied for PhD programs focusing on theatre and dramaturgy.
Why did you choose to pursue your degree at Pitt?
Pitt’s opportunity to teach various classes, a better funding program than so many other schools, and the type of courses available excited me for the future.
How did the degree program help prepare you for your career?
I am entirely indebted to the graduate faculty in this department. Each professor has their own unique experiences, perspectives, and expertise. Because of that, I felt I had a well-rounded ability to see the field from various lenses. Furthermore, the dedicated time and feedback I received as a graduate student helped me grow so much as a scholar and a person. Having professors who look at the arts as a space to articulate the inequities of society and imagine a better future is incredibly empowering.
What is your current position and what does it involve?
I am at Pitt! I’m a Teaching Assistant Professor with a dual appointment in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and the College of General Studies. While in grad school, I completed the Ph.D. certificate in GSWS, which was accessible and crucial for my research as a student. Most graduate theatre faculty offer cross-listed classes with GSWS, so there’s a fantastic overlap. In my current role, I teach various undergraduate courses for GSWS/CGS, work on the Iris Marion Young Awards, and mentor GSWS majors and minors (many of which are affiliated with theatre!)
Thoughts and/or advice for current graduate students?
Academia is a giant bubble. That’s not a pro or a con but an acknowledgment that it becomes all-encompassing sometimes to the point that there’s a disconnect between the notion of “publish or perish!” and “what or who is my work for? What am I working towards?” It can be very easy as a graduate student to become wholly absorbed in the information coming from the top down – the prominent scholars, the best publishers, etc. But your work is only part of you; it’s not the entirety of you – those publishers or scholars do not determine your self-worth, so please remember that.