Mary Isbell

Broadly speaking, my research focuses on book and theater history of the nineteenth century, the period just before/as technological innovations made possible the moving images and recorded sound we often take for granted today. I contrast the experiences of nineteenth-century readers and spectators with our own to encourage my students to think more critically about the ways we encounter culture.

I believe students can and should pursue projects that contribute to academic disciplines. I have worked with my students on practice-based research into the history of shipboard theatricals through a production of a nineteenth-century farce aboard US Brig Niagara and the performance of a collaboratively written rehearsal play aboard USS Constitution. I am especially energized by the digital humanities, which encourages projects that make student contributions to humanistic inquiry more feasible and legible. You can learn more about my work at