Loren Kruger

Professor of English, Comparative Literature, Theater and Performance Studies and African Studies
Loren Kruger profile picture
Walker 405
(773) 702-7978

Ph.D., Cornell University, 1986. Teaching at Chicago since 1986.

Special Interests

Theory and history of drama and performance in Europe, Africa and the Americas; cultural theory mostly marxist and post colonial; (South) African literature and visual culture: GDR and contemporary Germany

Imagining the Edgy City book cover

Loren Kruger’s research and teaching focus on theatre performance and theory in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, South African literature and visual culture, and on cultural theory, mostly the Marxist tradition in German, English and other languages, and its transnational legacy. She is also affiliated with the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture and the U Chicago Urban Network.

Kruger’s most recent book, Imagining the Edgy City, brings together film and fiction, public art, architecture, and history with previous work on theatre and other performances in Johannesburg. The book shows how apparently new claims for Johannesburg as global city hide a long history of images of Johannesburg as the wonder city of Africa and the world, with comparisons both pertinent and impertinent with other cities from Chicago to Paris, Berlin to Bogotá, Sydney to Sāo Paolo. Johannesburg has been called the “Chicago of South Africa” partly because of gangster culture in both places, but Johannesburg also owes a lot to the influence of Chicago architects and urbanists. For more on this connection, see the blog post on the UChicago Urban Network.

Comparatively inclined courses include:

  • Graduate: Before and After Beckett; Catharsis and other aesthetic responses; Drama, Theatre, Image, Performance; Marxism and Modern Culture; Translating Theory; Realism, Socialism, Modernism: a political history of cultural theory and practice; Brecht in Context
  • Undergraduate: Before and After Beckett; Brecht and Beyond. Criticism and Ideology; Cinema in Africa; Modern Drama
  • 2017-2018 Courses: Winter 2018, South African Fictions and Factions (undergraduate), Before and After Beckett: Theater and Theory (undergraduate); Spring 2018, Brechtian Representations: Theatre, Theory, Cinema (graduate)

Selected publications:

  • Imagining the Edgy City: Writing, Performing and Building Johannesburg (Oxford, 2013)
  • Post-Imperial Brecht (Cambridge, 2004) Winner of the MLA's Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Study 2005)
  • The Drama of South Africa: Plays, Pageants and Publics since 1910 (Routledge, 1999)
  • The National Stage: Theatre and Cultural Legitimation in England, France, and America. (U of Chicago P, 1992)
  • Theatre Lost, Performance Found, Critical Stages no. 15 (June 2017; special issue on African Theatre)
  • Brecht: Our Contemporary? (Un)timely translation and the politics of transmission, Theatre Journal  68 (2): 299-309
  • Dispossession and Solidarity in Athol Fugard and Juan Radrigán, Theatre Research International 40, no.3 (2015): 314-31
  • Cape Town and the Sustainable City in the Writing of Henrietta Rose-Innes, Journal of Urban Cultural Studies 2:1-2 (2015), 15-33
  • Tedium: An Essay on Drag, Attunement, Theatre and Translation. Comparative Drama, 48, no.4 (2014): 393-413
  • The Drama of Hospitality: performance, migration and urban renewal in Johannesburg Performance and the City: Global Stages. Ed Kim Solga and DJ Hopkins (Palgrave 2013): 19-39.
  • "What Time Is This Place? Continuity and Conflict in Urban Performance Sites: Lessons from Haymarket Square.” Performance and the Politics of Space, ed. Erika Fischer-Lichte and Benjamin Wihstutz (London: Routledge 2012): 46-65
  • “On The Tragedy of the Commoner,” Comparative Drama 46 (3) 2012: 355-76 
  • "Theatre: Regulation, Resistance and Recovery," in Cambridge History of South African Literature (2012)
  • "Reviving St. Joan of the Stockyards: speculation and solidarity in the era of capitalism resurgent." Brecht and the GDR: Culture, Politics, Posterity, ed Karen Leeder and Laura Bradley (Edinburgh German Yearbook, 2011)
  • "Cold Chicago: Uncivil Modernity, Urban Form and Performance," TDR 53 (3) 2009
  •  "The National Stage and the Naturalized House" in National Theatre in a Changing Europe ed S.E. Wilmer (Palgrave Macmillan 2007)
  • " 'White Cities,' 'Diamond Zulus' and the 'African Contribution to Human Advancement': African Modernities at the World's Fairs," TDR-Journal of Performance Studies. 51; 3 (2007): 19-45
  • "Positive Heroes and Abject Bodies in Heiner Müller's Production Plays," New German Critique (special issue on Heiner Müller) 98 (2006): 205-33
  • " 'Black Atlantics,' 'White Indians,' and 'Jews': Locations, Locutions, and Syncretic Identities in the Fiction of Achmat Dangor and others," South Atlantic Quarterly 100: 1 (2001 special issue: Atlantic Geneologies): 111-43

Arthur Molepo in Junction Avenue Theatre Company's Love, Crime and Johannesburg (1999)
Photograph by Ruphin Coudyzer

Cover photograph: Zombie
by Brett Bailey
National Arts Festival, 1996
Courtesy of the Grahamstown Foundation, South Africa.

“The Supreme Court axes the AAA” In Triple A Plowed Under by the Living Newspaper
US Federal Theatre Project, New York 1936.
Source: Library of Congress: Federal Theatre Project Collection