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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 7, 2008

UI faculty member Kim Marra's UI Press book wins award

Kim Marra, chair of the University of Iowa Department of American Studies and a longtime faculty member in the Department of Theatre Arts, has been honored with one of the most prestigious awards in theatrical scholarship, the Joe A. Callaway Prize for Best Book on Drama or Theatre. Marra won the award for "Strange Duets: Impressarios and Actresses in the American Theatre, 1865-1914," published by the UI Press in 2006.

The Callaway Prize, awarded biennially by the Department of English at New York University (NYU), includes a cash award of $9,000. The prize was established by Joe A. Callaway, an actor, drama lecturer and supporter of theatrical causes.

The three-member panel of judges, chaired by Una Chaudhuri, professor of English and drama at NYU, characterized "Strange Duets" as "an exceptionally original contribution to our understanding of a crucial period of American theatre history.

"An expansively conceptualized and deeply researched study of the complex cultural forces -- including what in recent decades came to be called 'identity politics' -- that shaped the foundations of American show business, this book tells its important story through richly detailed and riveting accounts of the lives and relationships of some of the most legendary directors, impresarios and actors of early American theatre. 'Strange Duets' is a work of luminous imagination and superb scholarship."

Marra was co-editor of "Passing Performances: Queer Readings of Leading Players in American Theater History," "Staging Desire: Queer Readings of American Theater History" and "The Gay and Lesbian Theatrical Legacy: A Biographical Dictionary of Major Figures of the American Stage in the Pre-Stonewall Era." Her new book project is "Fashioning the Thoroughbred Ideal: Show Women and Show Horses on American Stages, 1865-1930."

She recently completed a term as secretary of the American Society for Theatre Research and serves on the editorial boards of the UI Press, the Theatre in the Americas Series of Southern Illinois University Press, and Theatre History Studies. She is a former member of both the executive board of the American Theatre and Drama Society and the executive committee of the American Society for Theatre Research, and she has been book review editor as well as an editorial board member of Theatre Survey.

"Strange Duets," part of the UI Press Studies in Theatre History & Culture Series, is available at bookstores or directly from the UI Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at Customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East or Africa may order from the Eurospan Group online at

American Studies and Theatre Arts are programs of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS:; Allison Thomas, UI Press,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations,