PROF Rachel Fensham

PROF Rachel Fensham


  • Digital Humanities (archives, visualisation technologies, collections, user interaction)
  • Gender Studies (gender, bodies, identity)
  • Performing Arts (dance, theatre, circus, bodies, audience research)



  • Rachel Fensham is a dance and theatre scholar, and Assistant Dean of the Digital Studio, Faculty of Arts. Moving across the fields of theatre and dance, she is engaged with funded archival research and audience research on Australian theatre and dance, in particular investigating impact for young people in regional Victoria, as well as establishing a Theatre and Dance Platform for housing digitised content for the University and for partnerships with artists, such as Lucy Guerin. in all her research, the role and integration of methodologies from the digital humanities plays a critical role alongside other methods such as fieldwork, close analysis of performance and community engagement. Her recent publications include a leading essay on 'issues and methods in dance research' for a collection edited by Professor Sherril Dodds, forthcoming with Bloomsbury, and an essay on interdisciplinary research methodologies, in a collection edited by Celia Lury for Routledge, 2018. She is currently preparing a monograph on Movement for Methuen in their Theory for Theatre series, as well as undertaking ongoing research on costumes in the choreography of 20th and 21st century dance. Recent book chapters have appeared in "Unsettling Spectatorship" (eds. Stalpaert, Pewny, Coppens, Vermeulen; Academia Press 2016); and "Bodies of Thought: Twelve Australian Choreographers" (eds. Baxter and Brannigan, Wakefield Press, 2014), with refereed articles in "Design History" (2016), "Scene" (2015), and "Dance Research Journal" (2013). Books include the monograph, "To Watch Theatre: Essays on Genre and Corporeality" (Peter Lang, 2009); "Dancing Naturally: nature, neo-classicism and modernity in early twentieth century dance" (co-edited with Alexandra Carter, Palgrave, 2011) and "The Dolls' Revolution: Australian theatre and cultural imagination" (co-authored with Denise Varney, Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2005). With Professor Peter M. Boenisch, she is co-editor of the Palgrave book ser   


Member of

  • Dance Studies Association. Member, Congress of Research on Dance 2007 - 2018
  • Australasian Drama Studies Association. Member 1999 - 2018
  • Performance Studies international (PSi). Member, Performance and Pedagogy Group 1999 - 2018


Selected publications


Investigator on

Additional Grant Information

  • 1. Creative Convergence: Evaluating Theatre for Young People in Regional Victoria, DP, ARC, 2017-2020. 2. AusStage, Phase 6: visualising venues in Australian Live Performance Research, LIEF funded by ARC 2016. 2. Social and Cultural Informatics Platform (SCIP) - funded by University of Melbourne Collaborative Research Infrastructure Program, 2014-2020. 4. Reclaiming performance under assimilation in southeast Australia; 1935-75, DP, ARC 2018-2020.   


Education and training

  • PhD, Monash University 1998
  • MA, University of Melbourne 1992
  • GDMD, University of Melbourne 1988
  • BA Hons, University of Melbourne 1980

Awards and honors

  • Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, 2012
  • Kathleen Barker Award, Society for Theatre Research, 2010
  • Marlis Thiersch Award, Australasian Drama Studies Association, 2004
  • Brian Fitzpatrick History Prize, University of Melbourne, 1980



Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • Across my career in the UK, US and Australia, over 30 graduate students have completed doctoral projects under my supervision and gone on to have significant careers and publication profiles. I very much enjoy nurturing the research capacities of graduate students and welcome enquiries for supervision in relation to dance history and theory, performance studies, digital humanities, archival practices and cultural history. Current Graduate Research: Abbie Trott - "Remixing Stories: Engaging Young People in Theatre through Participatory Media", PhD 2017-2019. Andrew Furhmann: "Lucy Guerin: Contemporary Poetics in Contemporary Dance", PhD 2018-2020. Mihai Bacaran: "Unmaking the Human Body: Specta(c)torship in Internet Art", PhD 2018-2020.