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Dr Julia Peetz

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

I can now be reached at:


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.

Research interests

  • performance and democracy
  • Anglo-American relations
  • the U.S. presidency
  • political and theatrical representation
  • populism
  • performativity and theatricality
  • political speech
  • interdisciplinary research practice
  • interviewing elites
  • media literacy
  • political theory

Research projects

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 (2023). Performance, Theatricality, and the US Presidency: The Currency of Distrust. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.

Book chapters

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.

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. opens in a new window

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.

Journal articles

Lavender, Andy, and Julia Peetz (2023). 'On Protest Editorial'. Performance Research 27 (3/4): 1–12. (open access)

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'. (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.

Peetz, Julia (2019). 'Theatricality as an Interdisciplinary Problem.' Performance Research 24 (4): 63–67.

Peetz, Julia (2019). 'Beyond the Antitheatrical Prejudice: Political Oratory and the Performance of Legitimacy.' Contemporary Theatre Review 29 (1): 5–22.

Peetz, Julia (2016). 'Obama's Tears: Politics, Performance, and the Crisis of Belief.' Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts 10 (2): 10–31.

Journal editions

Lavender, Andy, and Julia Peetz, eds. (2023). Performance Research 27 (3/4 double issue): On Protest.

Moravec, Lisa, and Julia Peetz, eds. (2018). Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts 12 (2): On Magic.

Peetz, Julia, and Raz Weiner, eds. (2018). Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts 12 (1): Feasting.

Peetz, Julia, and Raz Weiner, eds. (2017). Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts 11: 'Authenticity'.


Peetz, Julia (2018). 'Semi-Structured Elite Interviews with U.S. Presidential Speechwriters in Interdisciplinary Research on Politics and Performance.' SAGE Research Methods Cases.


Peetz, Julia (2023). Review of Political Dramaturgies and Theatre Spectatorship: Provocations for Change by Liz Tomlin. Journal of Contemporary Drama in English. opens in a new window

Peetz, Julia (2022). Review of Populist Communication: Ideology, Performance, Mediation by Lone Sorensen. Representation: Journal of Representative Democracy.

Peetz, Julia (2020). Review of Speechwriting in the Institutionalized Presidency: Whose Line Is It? by Kenneth Collier. Presidential Studies Quarterly 50 (2): 484–485.

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.

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

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)


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).

Professional associations

  • 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


    BA, rMA, PhD, FHEA

    Office hours

    Please email me for an appointment.