University of Calgary

Penelope Farfan

  • Professor

Research Interests



Penny Farfan (PhD Northwestern University; MA McGill University; BFA Concordia University) is Professor of Drama, specializing in dramatic literature, theatre history, interdisciplinary modernist studies, and feminist and queer theatre/drama/performance studies. She is the author of Performing Queer Modernism (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Women, Modernism, and Performance (Cambridge University Press, 2004, 2007), and the editor (with Lesley Ferris) of Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Plays by Women: The Early Twenty-First Century (University of Michigan Press, 2021) and Contemporary Women Playwrights: Into the Twenty-First Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). She is also a past editor of Theatre Journal. She has published many articles and book chapters on modern and contemporary theatre, drama, and performance, and held research fellowships and grants from the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Calgary Institute for the Humanities, the Killam Trust, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the University of Calgary International Grants Committee. Her work has been recognized with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Outstanding Article Award, the ATHE Excellence in Editing Award for sustained career achievement, and the Women and Theatre Program Achievement Award for Scholarship, as well as a University of Calgary University Professorship and a Faculty of Graduate Studies Great Supervisor Award. In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in modern and contemporary drama and theatre history, she has supervised graduate student research in the areas of modern and contemporary drama, theatre history, and feminist theatre, drama, and performance. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.



Penny Farfan and Lesley Ferris, editors. Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Plays by Women: The Early Twenty-First Century. University of Michigan Press, 2021.

Penny Farfan. Performing Queer Modernism. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Penny Farfan and Lesley Ferris, editors. Contemporary Women Playwrights: Into the Twenty-First Century. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Penny Farfan. Women, Modernism, and Performance. Cambridge University Press, 2004, 2007.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters (selected)

"Queer American Drama: Plays, Replays, Yet-To-Be Plays." The Cambridge History of Queer American Literature, edited by Benjamin A. Kahan, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2023.

"Sue-Ellen Case." The Routledge Anthology of Women's Theatre Theory and Criticism, edited by J. Ellen Gainor and Catherine Burroughs, Routledge, forthcoming 2023.

"Postcard Ibsens/Ibsen Postcards: Domesticating Modernism." Modern Drama, vol. 65, no. 3, 2022, pp. 271-354.

"Monstrous Arousals: La Rose, Un Faune, La Faune." Monsters in Performance: Essays on Aesthetic Disqualification, edited by Michael Chemers and Analola Santana, Routledge, 2022, pp. 73-86.

Penny Farfan with Kelly Thornton and Vanessa Porteous. "Staging The Penelopiad." Adapting Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale and Beyond, edited by Shannon Wells-Lassagne and Fiona McMahon, Palgrave Macmillan, 2021, pp. 213-38.

"Criticial Visions." Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Plays by Women: The Early Twenty-First Century, edited by Penny Farfan and Lesley Ferris, University of Michigan Press, 2021, pp. 1-20.

"Feminist Adaptations/Adaptations of Feminism: Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad." Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Plays by Women: The Early Twenty-First Century, edited by Penny Farfan and Lesley Ferris, University of Michigan Press, 2021, pp. 23-31.

“On the Home Front: Designs for Living in British Theatre between the Wars.” Futility and Anarchy? British Literature in Transition, 1920-1940, edited by Dougal McNeill and Charles Ferrall, Cambridge University Press, 2018, pp. 299-314.

"Ages of Arousal." Linda Griffiths, edited by Jacqueline Petropoulos, New Essays in Canadian Theatre, volume 9, Playwrights Canada Press, 2018, pp. 20-34.

“Women Playwrights and the News: Colleen Murphy and Judith Thompson on ‘Fact-Inspired’ Drama.” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, vol. 31, no. 2, 2017, pp. 73-98.

“‘Masculine Women and Effeminate Men’: Gender and Sexuality on the Modernist Stage.” British Theatre and Performance, 1900-1950, by Rebecca D’Monté, Methuen, 2015, pp. 213-22.

“Historical Landscapes in Contemporary Plays by Canadian Women.” Contemporary Women Playwrights: Into the Twenty-First Century, edited by Penny Farfan and Lesley Ferris, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp. 231-43.

“The Folk and the Chosen One: Primitivism, Naturalism, and Nijinsky’s The Rite of Spring.” Discourses in Dance, vol. 5, no. 2, 2013, pp. 15-27. View here.

“‘The Picture Postcard is a sign of the times’: Theatre Postcards and Modernism.” Theatre History Studies, vol. 32, 2012, pp. 93-119.

“Women’s Modernism and Performance.” The Cambridge Companion to Modernist Women Writers, edited by Maren Linnett, Cambridge University Press, 2010, pp. 47-61.

Editing (selected)

Editor, Theatre Journal, January 2012-December 2013; Co-editor, January 2010-December 2011. Special issues: “Modernism” (2013); Queer Research in Performance (2012); Rethinking Intercultural Performance (2011); Contemporary Women Playwrights (2010).

Katherine E. Kelly and Penny Farfan, eds. Staging Modernism: Special Issue of South Central Review 25, no. 1 (Spring 2008).

Susan Bennett and Penny Farfan, eds. Calgary's High Performance Rodeo: Twenty Years of New Performance: Special Issue of Canadian Theatre Review 124 (Fall 2005).



  • PhD - Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama
    Northwestern University, 1994
  • MA - English
    McGill University, 1989
  • BFA (with Distinction) - Theatre (Specialization in Theatre Performance)
    Concordia University, 1982
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