Mechele Leon

Mechele Leon

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A member of the KU faculty since 2002, Professor Mechele Leon teaches theatre history, dramatic theory, acting, and directing at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She served as Chairperson of the Department of Theatre (2012-2017) and as Artistic Director of the University Theatre (2009-2012). Her current research focuses on performance and tourism, with specific interest in Jewish heritage tourism and representations of genealogy. Working for more than two decades on the cultural history of French theatre, her publications include A Cultural History of Theatre in the Enlightenment (Bloomsbury Press, 2017) and Molière, the French Revolution, and the Theatrical Afterlife (University of Iowa, 2009), which received the Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History. Her articles and reviews have been published in Theatre Journal, French Historical Studies, Comparative Drama, and European Studies. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism and was former co-convener of the Historiography section of the International Federation of Theatre Research. She has translated and directed several of Molière’s plays and directs plays in the European and American tradition. She wrote and performed the solo theatre piece "Bladder Interrupted: A Self-Story About Cancer" which aligns research interests around illness and narrative. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities faculty fellowship, a Bourse Chateaubriand from the French Government, and grants from the Hall Center for the Humanities at KU, The French Institute in Washington D.C., and the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University. Living in France from 1996-2001, she taught theatre history, theory, and acting at the American University of Paris and held a post as lecturer in English at the University of Paris. Dr. Leon received her Ph.D. in Theatre Arts from Cornell University and a D.E.A. in Théâtre et arts du spectacle from the University of Paris.


Teaching interests:

  • Theatre History
  • Directing
  • Acting
  • Public Speaking

Selected Publications

Leon, M. (2017). Leon, Mechele. A Cultural History of Theatre in the Age of Enlightenment.. Bloomsbury Academic.
Leon, M. (2015). Review of the book Controversy in French Drama: Molière's Tartuffe and the Struggle for Influence by Julia Prest. Ecumenica - Issue Fall 2015 | Volume 8:2.
Leon, M. (2015). Leon, Mechele. “Before Jacques Copeau: Le Théâtre Français d’Amérique of New York, 1913-1917”. La scène en version originale. Presses de l'université de Paris-Sorbonne.
Leon, M. (2013). Review of the book Staging the French Revolution: Cultural Politics and the Paris Opera, 1789–1794 by Mark Darlow. French Studies - Issue October 2013 | Volume 67:4.
Leon, M. (2000). Molière and the Revolution: A Tale of Three 'Dandins'. European Studies Journal - Volume XVII-XVIII.

Selected Presentations

Is 'Culture' Still a Useful Category? - Theatre Historiography Today: Symposium. Location: London, England UK. (1-01-2018).
Cancer, Storytelling, and the Narrative Body - American Society for Theatre Research. Location: Atlanta, GA. (11-01-2017).
Radical Adaptation: Moliere's Impromptu at Versailles - International Federation for Theatre Research. Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil. (7-01-2017).
Theatre and Environment in the Enlightenment - International Federation for Theatre Research. Location: Hyderabad, India. (7-01-2015).
Creating the Canon of French Theatre in the United States. - International Federation for Theatre Research. Location: Warwick, U.K. (7-01-2014).
Real French: Cultural Authenticity and the Théâtre Français d’Amérique - International Federation for Theatre Research. Location: Barcelona, Spain. (7-01-2013).
Avant Copeau: Le Théâtre français à New York, 1913-1917. - V.O. La Scène en Version Originale. Location: Institute for Theatre Studies, Maison de la Recherche, Paris. (10-11-2012).
French Theatre in New York - Conseil International d'Etudes Francophones. Location: Thessaloniki, Greece. (6-01-2012).
La Langue du théâtre: French Theatre Vocabulary and Translatability - Association for Theatre in Higher Education. Location: Denver, CO. (7-01-2008).