• Digital Archives (visualisation technologies, collections, user interaction)
  • Gender Studies (gender, bodies, identity)
  • Performing Arts (dance, theatre, circus, bodies, audience research)



  • Rachel Fensham is Head of School of Culture and Communication, and a dance and theatre scholar. She is currently involved in three distinct research projects that respectively involve digital archives, modern dance and costume histories, and evaluation of the affective impact of theatre. Recent book chapters and articles have appeared in "Scene" (2015), "Bodies of Thought: Twelve Australian Choreographers" (edited by Virginia Baxter and Erin Brannigan, Wakefield Press, 2014), and "Dance Research Journal" (2013). Other publications include "To Watch Theatre: Essays on Genre and Corporeality" (Peter Lang, 2009); "Dancing Naturally: nature, neo-classicism and modernity in early twentieth century dance" (co-edited with Alexandra Carter, Palgrave, 2011) and "The Dolls' Revolution: Australian theatre and cultural imagination" (co-authored with Denise Varney, Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2005). With Professor Peter M. Boenisch, she is co-editor of the Palgrave book series, "New World Choreographies" which has just launched its fifth title: She is also co-editor for The Interdisciplinary Research Methods Handbook (Routledge, in progress) and a member of the editorial boards of "Performance Research" and "Theatre, Dance and Performance Training". In 2011 she was awarded the Kathleen Barker Award by the Society for Theatre Research and in 2005, she received the Marlis Thiersch Research Award from the Australasian Drama Studies Association.   


Member of

  • Congress of Research on Dance. Member, Congress of Research on Dance 2007 - 2017
  • Australasian Drama Studies Association. Member 1999 - 2015
  • Performance Studies international (PSi). Member, Performance and Pedagogy Group 1999 - 2015


Selected publications


Investigator on

Additional Grant Information

  • 1. LIEF 2014: AusStage, Phase 5: researching Australian live performance; global networks, national culture, aesthetic transmission, funded by ARC 2014. 2. Social and Cultural Informatics Platform (SCIP) - funded by University of Melbourne Collaborative Research Infrastructure Program 3. Methods, Models and Meaning for Digital Archives and Datasets in the Digital Humanities - SCC Digital Incubator supported by Faculty Research Grant.    


Education and training

  • PhD, Monash University 1998
  • MA, University of Melbourne 1992
  • GDMD, University of Melbourne 1988
  • BA Hons, University of Melbourne 1980

Awards and honors

  • Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, 2012
  • Kathleen Barker Award, Society for Theatre Research, 2010
  • Marlis Thiersch Award, Australasian Drama Studies Association, 2004
  • Brian Fitzpatrick History Prize, University of Melbourne, 1980



Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • Current Students: Elena Benthaus (PhD, Melb); So You Think You Can Dance: the economy of affect in popular televisual dance. Laura Castagnini (MA Melb); Funny feminism: parody and parafeminism in contemporary visual arts practice (completed 2014). Supervision expertise in dance history and theory, performance studies, feminist theory and performance, cultural history, digital archives.