A new professorship honoring theater historian Oscar G. Brockett has been established at The University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Theatre and Dance. The Oscar and Lenyth Brockett Professorship in Theatre History is the first endowment to support the creation of the Oscar G. Brockett Center for Theatre History and Criticism. The professorship will fund faculty and student research in theater history.
“We are indebted to Dr. Brockett’s daughter, Francesca Brockett, and her husband, Jim Pedicano, for their generosity in establishing this important new professorship,” said Brant Pope, chair of the university’s Department of Theatre and Dance. “Brockett’s greatest legacy is in promoting and encouraging scholarship in all areas of theatrical design, creation, performance and production.”
Considered the world’s foremost theater historian, Brockett was best known for his 1968 book, “History of the Theatre,” the highest-selling theater history text to date, now in its 11th edition and translated into several languages. He was a luminary at The University of Texas at Austin where he served as dean of the College of Fine Arts and directed the doctoral program in the Department of Theatre and Dance, which he elevated to the top theater history program in the nation. In 2010 theater lovers and supporters around the globe mourned Brockett’s death at age 87.
The new professorship is the first step toward creating an academic research center named for Brockett. Once fully established, the Brockett Center will be supported by various endowments, including a faculty chair and a program endowment. The center will serve as an international focal point for new programs and curricula in theater history and criticism and help to produce a new generation of scholars, educators and artists.
“The Brockett Center will ensure that the name Oscar G. Brockett will always be synonymous with the best in theater scholarship and pedagogy. The faculty, students and alumni of the department are thrilled to know that they will continue to benefit from Brockett’s work and that his legacy as a teacher and scholar will continue to be a part of UT as it has been for so many years,” said Charlotte Canning, head of the Ph.D. program in the Department of Theatre and Dance.
Inaugural activities of the new center will include: annual gatherings of recognized theater scholars from around the world to give talks, teach master classes and work with students; symposia on theater history and teaching theater history; think tanks aimed at improving undergraduate theater education and knowledge of theater history for the general public; and events and performances to give theater audiences access to the rich resources available through the Brockett Center.
The Brockett Center will also jointly award the Oscar G. Brockett Essay Prize for the best essay written and published in English in a refereed scholarly journal or volume published by a scholarly press with the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR). Brockett was a long-time member and former president of ASTR, and this prize will celebrate his legacy for theater scholars across the profession.