M. Heather Carver is framed by her clown shadow—a black mannequin head wearing a pink camouflage hat and red clown’s nose—as she joyfully begins to describe her place at MU. “I come from a background of performing,” the Associate Professor of Theatre offers. “As a means of studying something, we perform it.” As a way of studying autobiography, for example, Carver performs autobiography.
One of Carver’s research areas involves “auto-performance”—a style that “brings the self to task in writing and in performance.” Whether this involves the
autobiography or autoethnography, “performative writing is very much a part of it, because you’re writing about your_self_.” Rather than taking other people’s perspectives and points of view, Carver tries to make clear her position from the get-go: “What I try to do in my performative writing is say, ‘this is about me,’… Because I really just want to write about what I’m experiencing for people to understand as a way of opening the conversation.”
Heather Carver describes herself as “a performance studies artist/scholar,” someone who investigates an issue through performance—“so we study autobiography, and we do autobiographical performance.” Carver teaches several kinds of creative writing, at both the undergraduate and graduate level, in adaptation and performance of literature for theatre and the screen. She also co-directs the Writing for Performance Program, which helps students adapt different kinds of writing for the stage or screen, including poetry, short stories, autobiography, or ethnography. And Carver serves as creator and artistic director of the Life and Literature Performance series to showcase original and adapted work by MU students for the stage.