I completed my PhD, entitled The Currency of Distrust: Performance, Theatricality, and Representative Democracy, in January 2019 and am now a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Warwick, where my research focuses on the history and performative construction of Anglo-American relations. My doctoral research was jointly supervised between the GSA's Institute of Performance (principal supervisor: Dr Adam Alston; co-supervisor: Dr Patrick Duggan) and the Department of Politics (politics supervisor: Prof Simon Usherwood).
I can currently be contacted at: Julia.Peetz@warwick.ac.uk
The Currency of Distrust examines the intersection of politics and performance through a focus on performances of the U.S. presidency, particularly presidential speeches. My work is interdisciplinary both in its theoretical framework and its methods. I draw 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 asks whether performance and theatricality should be seen as important functional elements, rather than mere embellishments or corrupting distractions, in representative democracy.
As part of my doctoral research, I conducted a series of in-depth interviews with presidential U.S. 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.
Areas of specialism
Affiliations and memberships
Conferences and 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 vol. 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 GSA and Department of Politics research seminar, University of Surrey, 1 November 2017, speaker: Dr. Maggie Inchley (QMUL), panelists: Prof. Roberta Guerrina (Surrey), Dr. David Brenner (Surrey), Julia Peetz.
- Chair of the organising commitee 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).
In the media
performance and democracy, politics and performance, the U.S. presidency, theatrical and political representation, populism, Anglo-American relations, performativity and theatricality, embodiment, rhetoric, authenticity, interdisciplinary research practice, media literacy and media criticism, political theory, post-postmodernism
Indicators of esteem
University of Surrey FAHS Studentship (full-time scholarship for three years, awarded in faculty-wide competition)
University of Surrey FASS Festival of Research 2017 Poster Competition 1st Place Winner
Glynne Wickham Scholarship
NeMLA Travel Grant
TaPRA 2019 Conference ECR Bursary
IAS University of Warwick Summer School Fee Waiver
TaPRA 2017 Conference Postgraduate Bursary
TaPRA Postgraduate Symposium Travel Bursary
PSA Media and Politics Group Conference Travel Subsidy
'The Currency of Distrust: Performance, Theatricality, and Representative Democracy.' Guildford School of Acting Postgraduate Research Symposium, University of Surrey, 3 December 2018.
'Double-Crossing: Populist Performance, Embodiment and Illusory Transgression.' Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Annual Conference. Popular Performance Working Group. Aberystwyth University, 5-7 September 2018.
'The State Performing Against Itself: U.S. Presidential Populism and Oppositional Practice.' Theatricality, Performance, and the State Conference. Queen Mary, University of London, 7-8 June 2018.
'The Haunted Politician: Embodiment and Political Performance.' 68th Annual Political Studies Association (PSA) International Conference, Cardiff, 26-28 March 2018.
'Legitimacy as a Zero-Sum Game: Political Distrust and Presidential Representation in the United States.' Political Studies Association (PSA) Media and Politics Group Conference, University of Hull, 16-17 November 2017. Awarded the James Thomas Memorial Prize for best paper (postgraduate).
'Every Election is a Change Election: Representation and the Performance of Legitimacy in Times of Populism.' Populism: Left, Right and Center; Graduate Student Conference, LSE, 3 November 2017.
'Reframing Legitimacy: Performative Representation in Times of Populism.' Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Annual Conference. Performance, Identity and Community Working Group. University of Salford, 30 August-1 September 2017.
'Politicians as Outsiders: Connecting with Voters in an Age of Distrust.' Doctoral College Conference, University of Surrey, 25-26 July 2017.
'Performing Emotion in an Age of Paranoia.' American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) 2017 Conference. Seminar: The Paranoid Style. Utrecht University, 6-9 July 2017.
'Overloading the System? Populist Performance, Democracy and Distrust.' Performance Studies international (PSi#23). Kampnagel, Hamburg, 8-11 June 2017.
'The Performative Edge of Non-Politicians: Anti-Establishment Rhetoric, Representative Claim-Making and Shifting Legitimacy.' Critical Theory in the Humanities: Resonances of the Work of Judith Butler. Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam, 5-7 April 2017.
'Obama's Tears and Farage's Pint: Material Focal Points for Anti-Establishment Rhetoric.' Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) 48th Annual Convention. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, 23-26 March 2017.
'The Currency of Distrust: How Does Politics Work Through Performance?' Poster Presentation. Discoveries on Your Doorstep: Connecting Societies and Cultures. Public Engagement Event. University of Surrey, 2 March 2017.
'Beyond the Antitheatrical Prejudice: Politicians' Performances and Political Space.' TaPRA Postgraduate Symposium. University of Leeds, 3 February 2017.
'The Currency of Distrust: Performances of Populism in the 21st Century.' Poster Presentation. FASS Festival of Research Poster Competition. University of Surrey, 31 January 2017. Winner: 1st Place.
'Just Theatre? Rethinking the Significance of Politicians' Performances in Representative Democracy.' Politicians and Other Performers Symposium. Birkbeck, University of London, 20 January 2017.
'Obama’s Tears: Political Rhetoric and the Performance of Outsider-ness.' Institute of Advanced Study Summer School 2016: Performing Politics/Politicising Performance: Summer School of Political Dissent. University of Warwick, 11-15 July 2016.
International Arts Programming (semester 2, 2015-'16)
Arts Analysis (semester 2, 2016-'17 & semester 2, 2017-'18)
Performance and the Politics of Fear (semester 1, 2017-'18)
Research Methods for Practice (semester 1, 2017-'18), MA level
Contextual Studies (semester 2, 2017-'18)
Interdisciplinarity (semester 2, 2018-'19), PhD level workshop
I have also been a Visiting Lecturer at the Royal Central School for Speech and Drama, teaching on writing for politics, and I have taught for The Brilliant Club (education charity) on the U.S. presidency and the performance of power.
Most recently I have been an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, where I have designed a module on activism, theatre, and political participation for the BA Performance, Politics, and Society.