PROF Rachel Fensham

PROF Rachel Fensham


  • Digital 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. Her current funded research includes "Creative Convergence", a study of the impact of live theatre and mediated culture on young people in regional communities; and a digital mapping project examining the historical changes in three theatre and dance venues in Melbourne. She has just completed an essay on interdisciplinary research methodologies, and is currently preparing a monograph 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 series, "New World Choreographies" which has just launched its fifth title: She is also co-editor for The Interdisciplinary Research Methods Handbook (Routledge, in progress) and a member of the editorial boards of "Performance Research" and "Theatre, Dance and Performance Training". In 2011 she was awarded the Kathleen Barker Award by the Society for Theatre Research and in 2005, she received the Marlis Thiersch Research Award from the Australasian Drama Studies Association.   


Member of

  • Congress of Research on Dance. Member, Congress of Research on Dance 2007 - 2017
  • Australasian Drama Studies Association. Member 1999 - 2015
  • Performance Studies international (PSi). Member, Performance and Pedagogy Group 1999 - 2015


Selected publications


Investigator on

Additional Grant Information

  • 1. Creative Convergence: Evaluating Theatre for Young People in Regional Victoria, DP grant, ARC, 2017-2020. 2. AusStage, Phase 6: visualising Australian theatre history, LIEF funded by ARC 2016. 2. Social and Cultural Informatics Platform (SCIP) - funded by University of Melbourne Collaborative Research Infrastructure Program, 2014-2017.   


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

  • Current Students: Elena Benthaus (PhD, Melb); So You Think You Can Dance: the economy of affect in popular televisual dance. Laura Castagnini (MA Melb); Funny feminism: parody and parafeminism in contemporary visual arts practice (completed 2014). Supervision expertise in dance history and theory, performance studies, feminist theory and performance, cultural history, digital archives.