Patrick McKelvey

  • Assistant Professor

Patrick McKelvey (PhD, Brown University) is an Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Pittsburgh who researches at the intersection of theatre and performance studies, critical disability studies, queer studies, and U.S. cultural history. Dr. McKelvey’s current book project offers a new history of disability and performance in the modern U.S. Performance Requirements argues that in the second half of the twentieth century, a seemingly unlikely ensemble of historical actors — rehabilitation professionals, deaf teachers, policymakers, arts administrators, disability activists, queer artists, and religious leaders — began championing theatrical performance as a potential route to employment, and economic justice, for disabled Americans. During this same period, disabled artists and their allies mobilized performance to challenge work as a social and moral obligation of citizenship. Drawing upon previously unexplored archives of art, activism, and policy, Performance Requirements unearths an eclectic repertoire of performance practices, institutions, and initiatives that centered work as either an aspiration or a problem for disability politics. While primarily focusing on developments between 1950 and 1990, this book also demonstrates how histories of work continue to galvanize disability performance cultures in the historical present. Research toward Performance Requirements has received recognition and support from the Schlesinger Library, the American Studies Association, the American Society for Theatre Research, the American Theatre and Drama Society, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and the Committee for LGBT History.

McKelvey has published essays in Theatre Survey, Theatre Journal, The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism (forthcoming) and Queer Dance: Meanings and Makings (Oxford UP). He is also beginning work on a second book project, The Gospel According to Berkeley: Disability, Performance, and American Religion.

Representative Publications

“Ron Whyte’s ‘Disemployment’: Prosthetic Performance and Theatrical Labor” (Theatre Survey, 2016)

“Choreographing the Chronic,” in Queer Dance: Meanings and Makings (Oxford University Press), edited by Clare Croft

Reviews in Theatre Journal, Modern Drama, TDR, and The Journal of American Drama and Theatre

Research Interests

U.S. Theatre and Performance
Disability Culture, Politics, and Aesthetics
Queer and Feminist Studies
Histories and Theories of Performance Labor

Education & Training

  • PhD, Theatre and Performance Studies, Brown University, 2017
  • MA, Anthropology, Brown University, 2017
  • BA, English and Theatre/Dance, University of Texas-Austin, 2008