Sara Warner
Associate Professor
Department of Performing and Media Arts

Cornell University
430 College Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850











Publications - Books

Acts of Gaiety: LGBT Performance and the Politics of Pleasure (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012), recipient of the ATHE Outstand Book Award, the Barnard Hewitt Award for Theater History (Honorable Mention), and a Lambda Literary Award Finalist.

Acts of Gaiety explores the mirthful modes of political performance that inspire and sustain deadly serious struggles for revolutionary change. In response to queer theory’s long-suffering romance with mourning and melancholia and a national agenda that urges homosexuals to renounce pleasure in a bid to be taken seriously by mainstream society, Warner seeks to reanimate gaiety as a political value for progressive LGBT activism by redirecting our attention to the importance of pleasure, humor, fun, and frivolity in the shaping of LGBT lives.

Against a sobering neoliberal landscape that promotes assimilation through marriage and military reform, this book looks at anarchic antics such as camp, kitsch, drag, guerrilla theater, zap actions, rallies, manifestos, pageants, and parades alongside more familiar forms of "legitimate theater." Weaving together performance studies, affect theory, and sexuality studies, Warner mines the archives of lesbian-feminist activism of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, highlighting the outrageous gaiety that lay at the center of the social and theatrical performances of the era and uncovering original documents long thought to be lost. Juxtaposing historical actors such as Valerie Solanas, the Radicalesbians, and Jill Johnston with more recent performers and activists (including Hothead Paisan, riot grrrls, and the Five Lesbian Brothers), this book shows how reclaiming this largely discarded and disavowed past elucidates new possibilities for being and belonging. Throughout Acts of Gaiety, Warner demonstrates the mutually informing histories of gayness as politics and gayness as joie de vivre as she argues for the centrality of liveliness to queer performance and protest.

Acts of Gaiety is a rollicking ride. Sara Warner revises both lesbian feminist histories, emphasizing riotous joyful action rather than earnest righteousness, and queer theoretical trends, stressing pleasurable politics over loss and the death drive. And who wouldn’t want to spend the day reading about the Lavender Menace, Valerie Solanas, the Five Lesbian Brothers, and Hothead Paisan?”
— Lisa Duggan, New York University

"Acts of Gaiety is a great read. Filled with excellent research that sets the various theater productions in context and accompanied by a compelling historical account of the conjunctions of riot and revelry in LGBT liberation movements, it will make an impact on a number of different fields." — Judith (Jack) Halberstam, USC

Publications - Journals & Anthologies

Co-author, “A Collective Call Against Critical Bias,” HowlRound 26 June 2017.

“Calling All Bad Hombres and Nasty Women,” HowlRound 20 January 2017.

“ATHE’s Latent Homosexuality,” A Forum on LGBTQ Performance, Theatre Topics, Special Issue on ATHE 2015 (March 2016), 24-5.

"Contemporary Lesbian and Gay Drama" in The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature. Eds. Ellen McCallum and Mikko Tuhkanen (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013), 607-625.

"Hide and Go Seek: Child's Play as Archival Act in Valerie Solanas's SCUM Manifesto," TDR 58.4, special issue on Desire, eds. Jill Dolan and Stacy Wolf (Winter 2014): 80-93 (co-written with Mary Jo Watts).

“A Gay Old Tine: Jill Johnston October 1975” in Affect/Performance/Canada: New Essays in Canadian Theatre, ed. Erin Hurley (Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2014).

“Chronic Desires: Theater's Aching Lesbian Bodies” in Contemporary Women Playwrights, Eds. Penny Farfan and Lesley Ferris (Palgrave 2013), 50-65.

Guest Editor with Erin Hurley (McGill), The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 26.2, Special Dossier, “Affect, Performance, Politics” 26, no. 2 (Spring 2012).

“The Maladapted Hothead Paisan: A Lesbian Comedy of Terrors” in Political and Protest Theatre After 9-11: Patriotic Dissent, ed. Jenny Spencer (NY: Routledge, 2011), 219-234.

"Restorytive Justice" in Razor Wire Women, eds. Ashley Lucas and Jodie Lawston (forthcoming from SUNY Press), 229-245.

“’A Terror to Gods and Men’: The Furies Collective, the Theatrics of Terrorism, and the Myth of The Angry Lesbian” in Myth and Violence in the Contemporary Female Text: New Cassandras, eds. Julie Rajan and Sanja Bahun-Radunovic (London: Ashgate Press), 19-33.

"The Tender Track" in Feminist Activism in Academia: Essays on Personal, Political and Professional Change, eds. Ellen Mayock and Domnica Radulescu (McFarland Press), 176-190.

"Rage Slaves: The Commodification of Affect in the Five Lesbian Brothers' The Secretaries." Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism XIII (Fall 2008). Nominated by the journal for ATHE's Outstanding Essay Award.

"Suzan-Lori Park's Drama of Disinterment: A Transnational Exploration of Venus," Theatre Journal 60.2 (May 2008): 181-199.

"The Medea Project: Mythic Theater For Incarcerated Women,” Feminist Studies, 30, no. 2 (Summer 2004), 483-500. Special Issue On Women In Prison.

"'Do You Know What Bitch is Backwards?': Mythic Revision and Ritual Reversal in the Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women" Dialectical Anthropology, 26 (2001): 159-179.

"Performance Anxieties: Science, Sexuality and Safe Counsel"Nineteenth Century Prose, Special Edition On Gender And Victorianism, Fall 1999.

Publications - Book Reviews

Davy, Kate. Lady Dicks and Lesbian Brothers: Staging the Unimaginable at the WOW Café Theatre (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010). Theatre Survey 53, no. 2 (Sept 2012): 317-319.

Muñoz, José E. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (NY: NYU Press, 2009). Modern Drama 54.2 (Summer 2011): 255-257.

Friedman, Sharon, ed. Feminist Theatrical Revisions Of Classical Works (Jefferson, NC: Mcfarland Press, 2009). Theatre History Studies 30 (2010): 288-290.

Stewart, Kathleen. Ordinary Affects (Durham: Duke UP, 2007). Feminist Theory 10.2 (August 2009): 258-259.

Scott-Douglass, Amy. Shakespeare Behind Bars (New York: Continuum, 2007). Text and Presentation 2008 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008), 246-248.

Ridout, Nicholas. Stage Fright, Animals And Other Theatrical Problems (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006). Modern Drama 51.1 (Spring 2008): 156-158.

 Publications - Mainstream Media

Flag Day is Donald Trump’s 71st Birthday: Give Him the Bash He So Bigly Deserves,” Huffington Post 12 June 2017.

“Not My President’s Day,” Huffington Post 2 February 2017.

“The FBI’s Assault on the Election Has Historical Roots,” Huffington Post 15 December 2016.

“Will Beauty Queens Be Trump’s Kryptonite?” Huffington Post 1 Nov 2016.

“Most Diverse Broadway Season Ever: If You Leave Out Women,” Womens eNews 9 June 2016.

“Pulitzer Prize Winning-Alum Returns to Campus for Ph.D.,” Cornell Chronicle 29 March 2016.

“Transgender Revolutionaries Profiled in New Documentary,” Huffington Post 1 March 2016.

“Political Performance: It Didn’t Start with Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé,” Huffington Post 22 February 2016.

“How Gay Marriage and Wedding Culture Threaten Other Couples,” Time Magazine 11 February 2016.