I am a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Performance and Politics. Previously, I have lectured at Goldsmiths, University of London, the Royal Central School for Speech and Drama, and the University of Surrey, where I was also awarded my PhD in 2019.
My work addresses questions of political representation, democracy, and performance – particularly in the context of the U.S. presidency and in Anglo-American relations. I have worked on distrust and the erosion of legitimacy under mainstreamed populism, U.S. presidential performance (with a particular focus on presidents since Watergate), and representative democracy more broadly. My current research aims to expand this work to international relations between states.
From 2017 until 2019 I was editor of the postgraduate and early-career journal Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London.
I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and an Associate Fellow of Warwick's Institute of Advanced Study.
- performance and democracy
- Anglo-American relations
- the U.S. presidency
- political and theatrical representation
- performativity and theatricality
- political speech
- interdisciplinary research practice
- interviewing elites
- media literacy
- political theory
Performing Anglo-Americans Relations: Exceptionalism, Myth, Identity
Through a focus on political speech, this three-year Leverhulme-Trust-funded project offers the first major study of the performative dimension of Anglo-American relations. The ambition motivating my current research is to develop an international relations perspective for the emerging field of politics and performance research.
Introducing an interdisciplinary methodology that combines archival research and performance analysis, this work examines how key events in US-UK relations – from the Declaration of Independence via the Suez Crisis to the Reagan/Thatcher years and beyond – have been staged in political oratory and its mediatised dissemination. I seek to capture how performance has helped to create the so-called ‘special relationship’ as a powerful source of political identification on either side of the Atlantic. The project will trace how performances of Anglo-American relations have constructed an enduring political imaginary of Western exceptionalism that has shaped the order of the modern world, in spite of shifting power imbalances.
Performance, Theatricality, and the US Presidency: The Currency of Distrust
My doctoral research examined the intersection of politics and performance through a focus on performances of the U.S. presidency, particularly presidential speeches. I am currently developing this work into a monograph under contract with Edinburgh University Press.
As part of this research, I conducted a series of in-depth interviews with U.S. presidential speechwriters spanning administrations and campaigns from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. My work thus draws on the unique perspectives of those involved in crafting presidential performances to investigate both the significance of performance and theatricality to the institution of the U.S. presidency and the imperative to navigate and mobilise the distrust of political audiences.
The Currency of Distrust is interdisciplinary both in its theoretical framework and its methods, drawing on theatre and performance theories of performativity, acting, and theatricality as well as on models of populism and political representation developed in political theory. This research demonstrates why performance and theatricality should be seen as important functional elements, rather than mere embellishments or corrupting distractions, in representative democracy.
Peetz, Julia (forthcoming). Performance, Theatricality, and the US Presidency: The Currency of Distrust. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.
Peetz, Julia (2021). 'The Performative Edge of Non-Politicians: Populism and Shifting Legitimacy in US Presidential Politics.' Bodies That Still Matter. Resonances of the Work of Judith Butler, edited by Annemie Halsema, Katja Kwastek, and Roel van den Oever, 53–63. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP. https://www.aup.nl/en/book/9789463722940/bodies-that-still-matter
Peetz, Julia (2021). 'The Body Politic and JFK's Bad Back: Questions of Embodiment in the Performance of Politics.' Oxford Handbook of Politics and Performance, edited by Shirin M. Rai, Milija Gluhovic, Silvija Jestrovic, and Michael Saward, 561–576. Oxford: Oxford UP. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-oxford-handbook-of-politics-and-performance-9780190863456
Peetz, Julia, and Alexander Roycroft (2018). 'Raising Her Voice: Maiden Speeches and Representative Power.' In: Amending Speech: Women's Voices in Parliament, 1918-2018, edited by Maggie Inchley and John Vice, 282–87. London: House of Lords Hansard.
Peetz, Julia (2021). 'The Counter-Theatricality of Right-Wing Populist Performance.' Studies in Theatre and Performance 41 (3): 247-262. Special issue 'Performance and the Right'. https://doi.org/10.1080/14682761.2021.1964818 (open access)
Peetz, Julia (2020). 'Legitimacy as a Zero-Sum Game: Presidential Populism and the Performative Success of the Unauthorized Outsider.' Contemporary Political Theory 19 (4): 642–662. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41296-019-00375-3
Peetz, Julia (2019). 'Theatricality as an Interdisciplinary Problem.' Performance Research 24 (4): 63–67. https://doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2019.1641325
Peetz, Julia (2019). 'Beyond the Antitheatrical Prejudice: Political Oratory and the Performance of Legitimacy.' Contemporary Theatre Review 29 (1): 5–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/10486801.2018.1556210
Peetz, Julia (2016). 'Obama's Tears: Politics, Performance, and the Crisis of Belief.' Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts 10 (2): 10–31. https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/media/5425/04_obamas_tears_peetz.pdf
Lavender, Andy, and Julia Peetz, eds. (forthcoming, 2022). Performance Research 27 (1): On Protest.
Moravec, Lisa, and Julia Peetz, eds. (2018). Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts 12 (2): On Magic. https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/media/8418/00_full_issue.pdf
Peetz, Julia, and Raz Weiner, eds. (2018). Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts 12 (1): Feasting. https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/media/5753/00_full_issue.pdf
Peetz, Julia, and Raz Weiner, eds. (2017). Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts 11: 'Authenticity'. https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/media/5437/00_full.pdf
Peetz, Julia (2018). 'Semi-Structured Elite Interviews with U.S. Presidential Speechwriters in Interdisciplinary Research on Politics and Performance.' SAGE Research Methods Cases. https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526477569
Peetz, Julia (2020). Review of Speechwriting in the Institutionalized Presidency: Whose Line Is It? by Kenneth Collier. Presidential Studies Quarterly 50 (2): 484–485. https://doi.org/10.1111/psq.12652
Peetz, Julia (2017). Review of The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style, and Representation by Benjamin Moffitt. European Journal of Communication 32 (5): 494–496. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0267323117730716
In the media
'Why Performance Enables, and Disturbs, Democratic Politics.' The Activist Classroom, 12 December 2019.
‘In politics, speeches matter—but even Donald Trump couldn't make the State of the Union watchable.’ The Conversation, 1 February 2018.
Research events organised
- 'Between Myth & Memory: Contemporary Politics and the Performance of History', interdisciplinary symposium, University of Surrey, 25 April 2019.
- Launch events for Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts 11 ('Authenticity'), vol. 12 no. 1 (Feasting), and vol. 12 no. 2 (On Magic), each of which included performances and talks by leading academics.
- Co-organiser of 'Contemporary Art, Philosophy and Politics After The Postconceptual Condition', TECHNE-funded symposium, University of Surrey, 9 November 2018.
- 'Politics and the Performance of Identity', joint Guildford School of Acting and Department of Politics research seminar, University of Surrey, 1 November 2017, speaker: Dr. Maggie Inchley (QMUL), panellists: Prof. Roberta Guerrina (Surrey), Dr. David Brenner (Surrey), Julia Peetz.
- Chair of the organising committee of the 6th annual university-wide Postgraduate Research Conference at the University of Surrey, 13-14 April 2016.
- Initiator/co-organiser of the 'Is Thought Action?' Conference, University of Amsterdam, 28-29 November 2013, NICA/ASCA-funded international conference exploring tensions between academic theory and practice, keynote speakers: Prof. Sut Jhally (University of Massachusetts) and Prof. Rosalind Gill (City, University of London).
Grants and awards
- Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (2019)
- University of Surrey Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences PhD Studentship (full-time scholarship for 3 years, awarded in faculty-wide competition) (2015)
- Asako Ukukubu Prize for Excellence in PhD Research (best PhD thesis in Politics, University of Surrey) (2019)
- James Thomas Memorial Prize (2017)
- University of Surrey Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Festival of Research Poster Competition 1st Place Winner (2017)
- TaPRA Conference ECR Bursary (2019)
- Glynne Wickham Scholarship (2017)
- Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Travel Grant (2017)
- TaPRA Conference Postgraduate Bursary (2017)
- TaPRA Postgraduate Symposium Travel Bursary (2017)
- TECHNE Student-led event funding for symposium of 'Contemporary Art, Philosophy and Politics After The Postconceptual Condition' (2018)
- Political Studies Association (PSA) Media and Politics Group Conference Travel Subsidy
- IAS University of Warwick Summer School Fee Waiver (2016)
In the academic year 2020/21, I am teaching:
- Politics and Performance: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
- Performance Analysis
I have experience teaching at undergraduate, master’s, and PhD (i.e., researcher development) levels, on topics ranging from the U.S. presidency, political activism, and writing for politics via arts and performance analysis, political theatre, and the theatrical avant-garde to research methods and interdisciplinarity in research.
In 2017 I completed the Graduate Certificate for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at the University of Surrey. Before joining Warwick, I taught at the University of Surrey; Goldsmiths, University of London (BA Performance, Politics and Society); the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama; and for the Brilliant Club (education charity).
- Member of the Political Studies Association (PSA)
- Rhetoric, Discourse and Politics specialist group
- Media and Politics specialist group
- Member of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA)
- Performance, Identity and Community working group
- Member of Performance Studies international (PSi)
- Associate Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study, Warwick University