Dr. Francesca Coppa
I am interested in storytelling, broadly speaking. My primary field is drama, but I also teach genres of popular fiction like murder mysteries and sci fi, film and television, music video, fan fiction, the history of publishing, Dante's Inferno, YouTube video and sexuality theory. I look at stories as participatory culture—even the most traditional works of literature are part of a conversation within a community.
While I specialize in 20th-century drama and the history of sexuality, I also like to think across disciplines, so I have designed courses like Plays on Film (on how theatre is adapted to film), Sherlock, James and Harry (about the transmedia adventures of Sherlock Holmes, James Bond and Harry Potter) and Sex on Stage (at the intersection of performance studies and sexuality theory). I tend to foreground storytelling as a social act, that is, as a collaboration dependent on legal, economic and cultural conditions. I'm interested in how writing is made, marketed and sold.
I enjoy working with students one-on-one and have supervised independent studies on subjects as various as playwrights Susan Glaspell and August Strindberg, the theatre of India, children's books and young adult literature, stand-up comedy, true crime, erotica and Batman.
I am a dramatic literature and performance studies scholar currently working on new media as an area of amateur, folk and popular performance. My current project is a history of fan music video, “Vidding: A History,” but I also continue to write in more traditional areas of drama and theatre. For instance, I just wrote a new introduction to the Bloomsbury edition of “The Importance of Being Earnest,” and my next book, “The Playwright on Stage,” looks at the ways the personas of Oscar Wilde, Joe Orton, Tom Stoppard and Harold Pinter have had a theatrical life at least as significant as any of their characters.
My scholarship extends into advocacy around fair use and copyright. I helped found the Organization For Transformative Works (OTW), a nonprofit that advocates for fan works and culture in the context of an increasingly corporate internet. I helped secure Digital Millennium Copyright Act exemptions for noncommercial remix artists from the Library of Congress and have lobbied for copyright reform. I have written articles on social media and have helped build social media—the OTW's flagship project, the Archive of Our Own, is the largest female-built open source software project on the web.