Featured Speakers



"Cognitive Science, Casting, and the Construction of Narratives of Blame"


Amy Cook 1

Amy Cook, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Theater History, Theory and Literature

Department of Theater and Drama
Indiana University

Amy Cook specializes in the intersection of cognitive science (particularly cognitive linguistics, theories of embodied and embedded cognition, and empathy), and theories of performance, theatre history and dramaturgy, early modern drama, and contemporary productions of Shakespeare. Her book, Shakespearean Neuroplay: Reinvigorating the Study of Dramatic Texts and Performance through Cognitive Science, provides a methodology for applying cognitive science to the study of drama and performance. With Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a test subject and the cognitive linguistic theory of conceptual blending as a tool, Cook unravels the “mirror held up to nature” at the center of Shakespeare’s play. She is co-chair, with John Lutterbie, of the Cognitive Science in Theatre and Performance Working Group at the American Society of Theatre Research conference (2010 and 2011).

She was a Mellon Fellow in dramaturgy, directing, and dramatic literature at Emory University in Atlanta, where she was commissioned to write a documentary theatre piece on race at Emory University, presented at the Brave New Works Festival in February of 2009. She received her Ph.D. in Theatre and Drama at University of California, San Diego where she studied with Louis Montrose, Bryan Reynolds, Jim Carmody, Janet Smarr, and cognitive scientists Gilles Fauconnier, Rafael Núñez, and Seana Coulson. She got received her B.A. in theatre directing and psychology (a self-designed individual concentration through the Honors Program) from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Cook has directed Amy Freed’s The Beard of Avon at UCSD, staged readings at UCSD’s Baldwin New Play Festival, The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter at UCSD’s graduate cabaret, and various (off off Broadway) plays in New York City. She has assisted directors Lisa Peterson, Richard Nelson, Rob Bundy, Howard Shalwitz, and Lou Jacob at theatres such as Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, Mark Taper Forum, Blue Light, and San Diego Repertory. She was the "cognitive performance analyst" (and dramaturg) for Richard III at Georgia Shakespeare Festival in 2007