Denise Varney

Professor Denise Varney

  • Post-Nominals: FAHA
  • Fellow Type: Fellow
  • Elected to the Academy: 2022
  • Section: Arts


Denise Varney is Professor of Theatre Studies in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne where she has also served as Deputy and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts (2017–18). From 2013 to 2021, she served as co-director of the Australian Centre for the Faculty of Arts. She is a current member of the ARC College of Experts and Honours Co-ordinator for the English and Theatre Studies Program where she is based. She is a long-term member of ADSA, the Australasian Drama Studies Association and IFTR, the International Federation for Theatre Research, and a past co-coordinator of the Feminist Research Working Group, one of the associations longest running entities. She has supervised 20 Research Higher Degree completions and numerous Honours theses as well as serving as an examiner, referee and peer reviewer of postgraduate and academic thesis, applications and publications.

Her research is in the area of modern and contemporary Australian theatre and performance with published work in the areas of feminism, ecocriticism, theatre and politics, and performance affect. Her essays are published in Australasian Drama Studies, Theatre Research International, Modern Drama, The Drama Review, Contemporary Theatre Review, New Theatre Quarterly and Performance Research. Her books include Patrick White’s Theatre: Australian Modernism on Stage 1960–2018 (September 2021), Australian Theatre, Patrick White and Modernism: Governing Culture with Sandra D’Urso (2018), Feminist Ecologies: Changing Environments in the Anthropocene with Lara Stevens and Peta Tait (2018), and Performance Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal Times (2017), co-edited with Elin Diamond and Candice Amich. Earlier books include The Dolls’ Revolution: Australian Theatre and Cultural Imagination (with Rachel Fensham 2005), Radical Visions: The Impact of the Sixties on Australian Drama (2011) and Theatre in the Asia Pacific: Regional Modernities in the Global Era (co-authored 2013). In 2020, she was awarded her fourth Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant to lead a collaborative project ‘Towards an Australian Ecological Theatre’.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.