May 9, 2012

Top award for thesis on dark tourism and theatre 

Emma Willis who completed her PhD in the Department of English has won one of five best doctoral thesis awards from the Vice-Chancellor of The University of Auckland.  

Her thesis Absent Others: Dark Tourism, Theatricality, and Ethical Spectatorship, completed between 2007 and 2011, asked how humans can respond and have responded to the task of representing and recalling disaster.  

Her PhD was completed under the supervision of Associate Professor in Drama, Dr Murray Edmond, and Professor of English Tom Bishop. 

Dr Edmond praised her work for its design, execution, originality in its interdisciplinary reach and moral commitment to her subject matter. The thesis comprised elements of theatre studies, museum studies, anthropology, history, philosophy and practical performance in both drama and dance. 

“The various array of materials brought together might have threatened to disarticulate the work, but the finished product, remarkable in its range, is held together firmly by a searching attentiveness to the single question of how humans can respond and have responded to the task of representing and recalling disaster. How does one speak the unspeakable? Must one nonetheless speak? What are the contours of such ‘unspeakability’? How does the right and the obligation to speak intersect with the ability to do so? What figurations of speaking may allow the silent to make itself felt? These are the difficult questions Emma’s thesis considered,” Dr Edmond says.

Emma also completed her MA in Drama in the English Department at The University of Auckland in 2004. She now holds the position of Lecturer at Massey University in Wellington. She co-created and directed with Malia Johnston the full-length dance work body/fight/time, which was staged at the Opera House in Wellington in September 2011 and at Q Theatre in Auckland in October 2011.  

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