Dr Julia Peetz

PhD Candidate in Performance and Politics

Qualifications: BA (University of Göttingen), rMA (University of Amsterdam), FHEA


Further information


My PhD project (tentatively entitled: 'The Currency of Distrust: Performances of Populism in the Twenty-First Century') examines performances of right-wing and left-wing populism in the U.S. and the UK, focusing in particular on politicians' speeches and the ways in which these are performed. I am interested in the extent to which representative democracies function through politicians' performances and voter-audiences' suspension of disbelief in the credibility of such performances as well as the tension between the necessity to suspend disbelief and the widespread (and growing) distrust of politicians and political institutions. 

As part of this research, I have been interviewing more than a dozen U.S. speechwriters across the political spectrum (most of whom have been presidential speechwriters or speechwriters on presidential campaigns, working for presidents/presidential candidates spanning from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama). The interviews focus on the speechwriters' thoughts on connecting with audiences and conveying a sense of authenticity. 

My doctoral research is 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: Dr. Simon Usherwood).

Research Interests

politics and performance, populism, rhetoric, authenticity, performativity and theatricality, interdisciplinary research practice, media literacy and media criticism, political theory, theatrical and political representation, post-postmodernism, “progress” as a concept, David Foster Wallace


Peetz, Julia, and Alexander Roycroft. 2018 (accepted, forthcoming). 'Raising Her Voice: Maiden Speeches and Representative Power.' Chapter in: Amending Speech: Women's Voices in Parliament, 1918-2018, ed. Maggie Inchley/House of Lords Hansard. 

Peetz, Julia. 2018. 'In politics, speeches matter -- but even Donald Trump couldn't make the State of the Union watchable.' The Conversation UK. <https://theconversation.com/in-politics-speeches-matter-but-even-donald-trump-couldnt-make-the-state-of-the-union-watchable-91046>

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.

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


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)

Contextual Studies (semester 2, 2017-'18)

The U.S. Presidency and the Performance of Power (7-week university-level Brilliant Club tutorial, spring 2018)

Departmental Duties

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Student Engagement Forum Chairwoman

Postgraduate Research Representative for the GSA

PhD mentor 


Co-Editor of Platform: Journal of Theatre & Performing Arts

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Political Studies Association (PSA)

Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA)

Brilliant Club PhD Tutor

Conference and Research Event Organisation

  • Initiator/co-organiser of the 'Is Thought Action?' Conference, University of Amsterdam, 28-28 November 2013, NICA/ASCA-funded international conference exploring tensions between academic theory and praxis, keynote speakers: Sut Jhally and Rosalind Gill.
  • Chair of the 6th annual Postgraduate Research Conference at the University of Surrey, 13-14 April 2016.
  • 'Politics and the Performance of Identity', joint GSA and Department of Politics research seminar, University of Surrey, 1 November 2017, speaker: Maggie Inchley, panelists: Roberta Guerrina, David Brenner, Julia Peetz.

Conference Papers

'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, Demcracy 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.


University of Surrey FAHS Studentship (full-time scholarship for three years)

James Thomas Memorial Prize 2017

University of Surrey FASS Festival of Research 2017 Poster Competition 1st Place Winner 

Glynne Wickham Scholarship

NeMLA Travel Grant

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 

Page Owner: jp00509
Page Created: Monday 21 November 2016 13:50:16 by rxserver
Last Modified: Monday 5 February 2018 14:00:49 by jp00509
Expiry Date: Monday 20 February 2017 16:12:32
Assembly date: Sun Jan 26 00:40:50 GMT 2020
Content ID: 168336
Revision: 17
Community: 1217

Rhythmyx folder: //Sites/surrey.ac.uk/GSA/People/pgr
Content type: rx:StaffProfile