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Department ofTheatre and Dance

Barbara M. Fraser

Barbara M. Fraser

Professor Emerita

Barbara Means Fraser was the first woman to be promoted to Full Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Santa Clara University. She served as Department Chair from 2003-2006, and served as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for six years from 2011-2017.

Fraser joined the theatre faculty of Santa Clara University in 1993 after ten years of teaching as a tenured Associate Professor at Austin College in Texas. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, M.A. from Miami University of Ohio, and a B.A. from Yankton College in South Dakota.

Her doctoral dissertation was a structural analysis of American musical theatre, and her master’s thesis defined one of the American political theatre movements in the 1960-70’s as “People’s Theatre” (now considered a type of devised theatre). She continued these interests by presenting papers at National Conventions for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and the Popular Culture Association, and publishing various articles in: The Sondheim Review, Theatre Journal, Journal of American Culture, Theatre Southwest, and Fu Jen Studies of Literature and Linguistics. Fraser had a chapter included in Sondheim, A Casebook edited by Joanne Gordon, and another chapter in Women in the American Musical Theatre edited by Judith Sebesta and Bud Coleman. She was invited to Taiwan in 1997 to present a paper as the “Sondheim specialist from America.” With a specialty in American theatre history, cultural analysis of theatre and the musicals of Sondheim, Fraser brought her favorite tools together to teach Dramaturgy, Directing, a Sondheim Seminar, Modern American Theatre History: Censorship, Stage Unions, and Arts Funding, and Culture and Ideas: When God Was a Woman.

Academia is a most fulfilling environment for creative work, and Barbara Means Fraser took full advantage of this gift by pursuing her artistic work as a playwright and director and more recently, screenwriter. She wrote nine plays, two librettos, and two screenplays, and directed over 25 plays and co-directed 2 films. Her plays have been produced or received readings in California, Oregon, Texas, and Minnesota. Fraser was honored to receive a MacDowell Fellowship in 2009 and a Platinum REMI Award by the Houston International Film Festival in 2015.

She retired from SCU and was granted Emerita status in Spring 2023.