Dal Alert!

Receive alerts from Dalhousie by text message.


Roberta Barker

Associate Professor, Theatre Studies; Gender and Women's Studies - Cross Appointment; Canadian Studies - Cross Appointment

Roberta Barker
Fountain School of Performing Arts

Email: barkerr@dal.ca
Phone: (902) 494-1495
Fax: (902) 494-1499
Mailing Address: 
Room 524, Dal Arts Centre
6101 University Ave.,
PO Box 15000, Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3H 4R2

Research Topics: Theatre History, Performance Studies, Early Modern and Modern Drama, Opera in Performance, Canadian Theatre and Performance, Realism, Medical Humanities, Gender in Performance

Research and Creative Activity:

Roberta’s research interests centre upon the relationship between performance, especially theatrical performance in the realist tradition, and the social construction of identity. Her work has explored such topics as the representation of gender and class in early modern tragedy, the early modern careers and modern afterlives of Shakespeare’s boy actresses, and (most recently) the role played by the performance of illness on the nineteenth-century stage in the evolution of realist style. She is Theatre Reviews editor for the journal Shakespeare Bulletin and Assistant Editor (Music History) on the New Variorum edition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her credits as a director include Luisa Miller, The Rake’s Progress, and Orfeo ed Euridice for Opera Nova Scotia; Henry IV, Part One for the Windsor Theatre, Mount Allison University; and The Mill on the Floss, The Witch of Edmonton, Fuente Ovejuna, and Troilus and Cressida for Dal Theatre.


  • Play Analysis for Directing (THEA 2902)
  • Modern Theatre I: Realism and Responses (ENGL / THEA 3501)
  • Modern Theatre 2: High Modernism (ENGL / THEA 3502)
  • Canadian Theatre to 1968 (CANA / ENGL / THEA 4500)
  • Canadian Theatre Since 1968 (CANA / ENGL / THEA 4501)
  • The Marriage of Figaro: Drama, Opera, and Social Transformation (EMSP 3630)

Selected Publications:

  •  “The Gallant Invalid: The Stage Consumptive and the Making of a Canadian Myth.” Theatre Research in Canada 35.1 (Spring 2014): 69-88.
  • Roberta Barker and Kim Solga, guest co-editors. Special issue, Early Modern Drama and Realist Performance on the Contemporary Stage. Shakespeare Bulletin 31.4 (Winter 2014): 192 pp.
  • “Affective Capital and Social Struggle in Dumas Père’s Angèle.” Nineteenth-Century French Studies 41.3/4 (Spring and Summer 2013): 204-19.
  •  Roberta Barker and Kim Solga, eds. New Canadian Realisms: Eight Plays and New Canadian Realisms: Essays. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2012.
  • “‘A Freshly Creepy Reality’: Realist Acting and Jacobean Tragedy on the Contemporary Stage.” Performing Early Modern Drama Today. Ed. P. Aebischer and K. Prince. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2012. 121-41.
  • “Inner Monologues: Realist Acting and/as Shakespearean Performance Text.” Shakespeare Survey 62 (2009): 249-260.
  •  Early Modern Tragedy, Gender and Performance, 1984-2000: The Destined Livery. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Selected Awards and Honours:

  • Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching, Dalhousie University, 2014
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Insight Development Grant, 2013-15: “Symptoms of the Self: The Consumptive Hero on the Nineteenth-Century Stage”
  • Patrick O’Neill Award for Best Edited Anthology, Canadian Association for Theatre Research, 2013 (for New Canadian Realisms: Eight Plays, edited with Kim Solga)
  • Award for Excellence in Teaching, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Dalhousie University, 2011
  •  Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Aid to Workshops Grant, 2010-11: “New Canadian Realisms”
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Standard Research Grant, 2005-8: “Realizing the Classics”