Esther Kim Lee is a professor of theatre history and writes about Asian American theatre, Korean diaspora theatre, and globalization and theatre. She was born in Seoul, Korea and spent her youth in Santa Barbara, California. Currently, she teaches in the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland. From 2013 to 2014, she was the Chief Editor of Theatre Survey, the flagship journal of the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR). She is currently the Vice President for Publications for ASTR.
Ph. D. Theatre History, Literature, and Criticism, THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY, Columbus, Ohio
M. A. Dramatic Arts, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA
B. A. Computer Science, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA
August 2017- present: Professor. School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, University of Maryland, College Park.
2013-2017: Associate Professor. School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, University of Maryland, College Park.
2007- 2012: Associate Professor. Department of Theatre and Asian American Studies Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Fall 2000 – Spring 2007: Assistant Professor, Department of Theatre and Asian American Studies Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Spring 2000: Lecturer. School of Interdisciplinary Arts, Hampshire College.
PUBLICATIONS (Select List)
Monographs and Edited Volume:
A History of Yellowface: Stage Orientalism and the Material Embodiment of Race (in progress).
The Theatre of David Henry Hwang. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2015.
A History of Asian American Theatre. Cambridge University Press, 2006. Published in paperback in 2011. (Winner of the ATHE Outstanding Book Award in 2007.)
Seven Contemporary Plays from the Korean Diaspora in the Americas. Duke University Press, 2012. Editor.
Articles and Essays:
“Historiography of Racial Theatricality: A Study of Yellowface and Stage Makeup in the Nineteenth Century.” Bloomsbury Companion to Theatre History and Historiography. Eds. Claire Cochrane and Joanna Robinson. Methuen Bloomsbury (in progress).
“Diaspora and the Avant-Garde in Korean/American Theatre.” Transnational Performance, Identity and Mobility. Eds. Iris Tuan and Ivy I-Chu Chang. Methuen Bloomsbury (in progress).
“All the Stage’s a World: The Organization of International, Multicultural, and Global Theatre Companies in the U.S.” Theater and Cultural Politics for a New World. Ed. Chinua Akimaro Thelwell. Routledge, 2017.
“Strangers Onstage: Asia, America, Theatre, and Performance.” The Journal of American Drama and Theatre. 28.1 (Winter 2016).
“Asian American Drama.” The Cambridge History of Asian American Literature. Eds. Rajini Srikanth and Min Song. Cambridge University Press, 2015.
“Designed Bodies: A Historiographical Study of the Costume Designer Willa Kim.” The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theater. Ed. Nadine George-Graves. Oxford University Press, 2015.
“Asian American Women Playwrights and the Dilemma of the Identity Play: Staging Heterotopic Subjectivities.” Contemporary Women Playwrights. Eds. Penny Farfan and Lesley Ferris. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 244-257.
“Patient Zero: Jean Yoon and Korean Canadian Theatre.” Asian Canadian Theatre. Eds. Nina Lee Aquino and Ric Knowles. Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2011.
“Avant-Garde Becomes Nationalism: Immortalizing Nam June Paik in South Korea.” Avant-Garde Performance and Material Exchange: Vectors of the Radical. Ed. Mike Sell. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
“Transnational Legitimization of an Actor: the Life and Career of Soon-Tek Oh.” Modern Drama 48.2 (Summer 2005): 372-406.
“Between the Personal and the Universal: Asian American Solo Performance from the 1970s to the 1990s.” Journal of Asian American Studies. 6.3 (Oct 2003): 289-312.
"David Henry Hwang." Asian American Playwrights: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Ed. Miles X. Liu. Greenwood Press, 2002.
"Diana Son." Asian American Playwrights: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Ed. Miles X. Liu. Greenwood Press, 2002.
Book Review: “Chinese Looks: Fashion, Performance, Race by Sean Metzger and The Racial Mundane: Asian American Performance and the Embodied Everyday by Ju Yon Kim.” Theatre Survey. 57.3 (September 2016): 488-490.
Book Review: “DMZ Crossing: Performing Emotional Citizenship Along the Korean Border by Suk-Young Kim.” TDR/The Drama Review. 59.4 (Winter 2015): 192-193.
Book Review: “Japan of Pure Invention: Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado by Josephine Lee.” Theatre Journal. 63.3 (Oct 2011): 473-474.
Book Review: “Choreographing Asian America by Yutian Wong.” New Theatre Quarterly 27.3 (2011): 292.
Book Review: “The Spectacle of Japanese American Trauma: Racial Performativity and World War II by Emily Roxworthy.” Theatre Research International 34.3 (Oct 2009): 317.
Book Review: “National Abjection: The Asian American Body Onstage by Karen Shimakawa.” Theatre Journal 57.1 (2005): 154-155.
Performance Review: “Frank Chin’s The Year of the Dragon at the East West Players.” Theatre Journal. 23.4 (2001): 638-640.
Book Review: “Tokens? The NYC Asian American Experience on Stage edited by Alvin Eng.” Journal of Asian American Studies. 3.3 (October 2000). 382-384.
Book Review: "Asian American Culture on Stage: The History of the East West Players, by Yuko Kurahashi." Theatre Survey. 40.1 (May 2000). 117-120.
INVITED TALKS (Select List)
April 2017. Panelist, James Gallery/Center for the Humanities, New York City. “Performance, Race, Objects, and Time/Temporality.” (invited)
March, 2017. Invited Lecture. Institute for Korean Studies, Ohio State University. “Korean Avant-Garde Theatre and Sung Rno’s Yi Sang Counts to Thirteen.” (invited)
July, 2016. Invited Participant, Interweaving Performance Cultures, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. “Performance Related Concepts in Non-European Languages – Korean.”
May, 2015. Invited Lecture. Crystal Cruise Serenity. Themed Lecture on Asian American Theatre. “‘A Hundred Million Miracles’: Fifty Years of Asian American Theatre from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song to George Takei’s Allegiance”
November, 2014. Invited Lecture. Department of Theatre and Film, Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea. “‘Korean American Playwrights.”
November, 2014. Invited Lecture. Department of Drama and Theatre, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan. ““The Theatricalized Body of Bruce Lee in David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu.”
October, 2014. Invited speaker. National Asian American Theater Conference and Festival. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “Home: The State of Asian American Theatre.”
April, 2014. Invited Lecture. School of Drama, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. “The Theatricalized Body of Bruce Lee in David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu.”
March 2013. Invited Lecture. Asian American Theater & Performance Studies Symposium. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. “All the Stage’s a World: The Organization of International, Multicultural, and Global Theatre Companies in the U.S.”
November 2011. Invited Lecture. The 19th Hahn Moo-Sook Colloquium in the Korean Humanities: “Staging Korea: Korean Theatre in Search of New Aesthetics.” George Washington University. “‘Remember to Forget’: A Study of the Family in Contemporary Plays from the Korean Diaspora in the U.S.”
June 2006: Invited speaker. Next Big Bang: The Explosion of Asian American Theatre, a conference sponsored by the East West Players, Los Angles. “The Dynamism of Aesthetics in Asian American Theatre.”