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Joel Chalfen


Teaching Associate

E-mail Address


+ 44 (0)1223 747250


  • PhD University of Manchester
  • MA University of East Anglia (UEA)
  • MA (Cantab) Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University

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I am a teaching associate in Drama at the Faculty of Education and a Director of Studies at Homerton College. I began my career as a theatre actor and director, having trained with Jacques Lecoq in Paris and at LAMDA. In 2004, I set up a small arts charity developing theatre projects for schools and with community groups. This work introduced me to the field of Applied Theatre which I then further explored through my MA studies in Theatre and Development and also in my PhD.

My doctoral research took place at three museums and my work took on a further interest in the politics of memory, heritage and our encounters with the past. My research has had an international scope with fieldwork in the Balkans, Russia and the US. I have continued to juggle the three disciplinary interests of theatre, community development and heritage, broadly under the umbrella of ‘public pedagogy’ and I have done so both within academia and outside.

After my first lecture post in Drama, I worked as a community engagement officer with Cambridgeshire County Council and then as a regional project officer for the Norfolk Museum Services. I joined the Faculty in 2013 primarily to convene the Drama programme on the undergraduate degree.

Academic Area/Links

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Research Topics

  • the relationship between place, memory and social change
  • the nature and dynamics of the ‘public sphere’
  • the play and aesthetics of conscience
  • landscapes and surfaces of learning
  • theories of distance in aesthetic reception

Current Research Project(s)

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  • Postgraduate
  • Undergraduate
    • Education Tripos: Dramatic Literature, Modern British Drama, Creativity and Thinking, Drama Production 1 and 2 (Course Convenor)

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Principal and Recent Publications

Chalfen, J (forthcoming) ‘Arts Education and Heritage: The role of place in creative learning’ in Schonman, S (ed) Key Issues in Arts Education: International Yearbook for Research in Arts Education (Waxman Publishers)

Chalfen, J (2011) ‘Performing Human Rights at Two Historic Site Museums’ in Performing Heritage: Research , Practice and Innovation in Museum Theatre and Live Interpretation’ (Manchester: MUP)

Book review

Chalfen, J (2013) Counter-Tourism: The Handbook by Phil Smith (Axminster: Triarchy Press) in New Theatre Quarterly 29:2