Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Professional Wrestling: Local Performance History, Global Performance Praxis, is a work of interdisciplinary scholarship (combining elements of theatre history, performance studies, and philosophy) that addresses an area of performance currently under-researched within the liberal arts and humanities: professional wrestling. My dissertation directs much-needed attention to the fact that professional wrestling is the only kind of live drama many Americans ever see (or even want to see). Although it is no doubt easy for theatre historians and performance theorists to dismiss this performance practice because of its location somewhere between “illegitimate sport” and “lowbrow popular entertainment,” I contend that United States professional wrestling is a sophisticated performance form that boasts a rich history whose study yields vital insights about how movement-centric performances are staged in commercialized spectacles. My dissertation archives the history of Louisiana professional wrestling and sheds light upon the repertoire of performance practices passed down from one generation to the next. In this dissertation I argue that the death of Louisiana professional wrestling provides an archetype for how the performance of professional wrestling transitioned from a local performance practice viewed live in a community to a televised, globalized product watched around the world. I argue that this transition can best be understood through the lenses of analytic philosophy of dance and the establishment of mass art forms in tandem with the development of mass technologies, rather than through primarily semiotic analyses popularized during the 1960s by Roland Barthes



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Sikes, Alan