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Dr Freya Verlander

Freya VERLANDER Associate Tutor

School of Creative Arts, Performance and Visual Cultures

Email: Freya dot Verlander at warwick dot ac dot uk

Office hour: Tuesdays 11-1pm (online Teams)


Freya Verlander is an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Warwick. Since completing her PhD at the University of Warwick, she has held Research Assistant positions at Warwick and at the University of Exeter’s Theatre Department. Most recently, she has also worked as a consultant on the ‘Atmospheric Theatre: Open Air Performance and the Environment’ project at the University of Exeter.

Her first monograph (Skin)Aesthetics and Performance: A Study of Skin(s) in Spectatorship is in development – forthcoming with Methuen Drama. Her research investigates how the skin functions as the site/sight/sound/taste/smell of spectatorial engagement, (dis)connection, and cross-sensory experience in works of performance including contemporary dance and live art. With a foundation in Anzieuian psychoanalytic theory, the interdisciplinary study brings together performance scholarship, literary criticism, cognitive science, and philosophy to suggest how the spectator’s skin-based engagement or engagement with the materials applied to, felt through, or representing the skin, re-contextualizes and reinforces Anzieu’s psychoanalytic ideas of skin-based identity formation and intersubjectivity. (Skin)Aesthetics emphasises the pervasiveness of skin in the social and sensorial imagination and explores how the treatment, and representations, of skin might encode wider social, political, and psychological issues. More recently, Freya’s research has asked what the withdrawal of skin-to-skin contact means for performance practice and audience experience.

Based on her research, she developed the public engagement event – Skin "Safari”: (Other)Worlding the Skin and Transforming Skin-Based Narratives – a semi-theatrical excursion across the skin, using digital microscopes, in collaboration with a team of dermatologists from Warwick Hospital and bio-artist, Mellissa Fisher. She also developed the interdisciplinary IATL module ‘Skin: In Theory and Praxis’ which included workshops using electro-dermal activity machines and driving simulators.

Research Interests

Freya’s research interests are, broadly, in exploring the interfaces between science, the senses, and different modes of performance. She is interested in the intersections of public health and performance – with a focus on the “performance” of public health and safety – and, more specifically, the biopolitics involved in pandemic performance and the practices of spectatorship. Her postdoctoral research is particularly concerned with the intersections between olfactory science, theatre practice (particularly experimentations with the olfactory as an aesthetic), and audience perceptions of the olfactory in performance spaces. On this note, she is also concerned with olfactory archives, and what constitutes an archive (?), in relation to audience/reception research.

Selected Publications

“(Skin)Aesthetics (The First Manifesto),” in Studies in Theatre and Performance, 2021. 10.1080/14682761.2021.1912489

Review “Theatres of Contagion: Transmitting Early Modern to Contemporary Performance Edited by Fintan Walsh. London: Methuen Drama, Bloomsbury” Theatre Survey. 62. 2. 2021, pp. 240–242., doi:10.1017/S004055742100017X.

“‘You’re Certainly Edward Sexton with that Needle and Thread’: Fantasies of Sharing, Tearing, and Wearing the ‘Common Skin’ in 'American Horror Story.’” In The European Journal of American Culture. 38.1. 2019. pp. 83-95. DOI: 10.1386/ejac.38.1.83_1

‘Ecologies of Skin, Gender, and Landscape: An Experiment’ - The Polyphony: Conversations Across the Medical Humanities.

Works in progress include chapters for inclusion in two Routledge Companion to Performance editions, as well as articles in development for Contemporary Theatre Review and Performance Research Journal.