Mike Sell

  • Mike SellProfessor

    Office: 506AA Humanities and Social Sciences Building
    Phone: 724-357-2272
    E-mail: msell@iup.edu


    PhD - University of Michigan – English Language and Literature Program, 1997

    AB – Duke University (Trinity) – English, 1990

    Academic Interests

    • Radical, dissident, and alternative literature, art, and culture (a.k.a. the avant-garde)
    • 19th- and 20th-century world drama, theater, and performance
    • Black American literature, art, and culture, with focus on the Black Arts Movement
    • Critical theory, with focus on power, identity, historical consciousness, and ethics
    • Video games and gaming culture


    This Professor Plays

    TWITTER: @mike_sell


    Mike Sell is an internationally recognized scholar of the avant-garde, the Black Arts Movement, and modern world drama, theater, and performance. He is the author of Avant-Garde Performance and the Limits of Criticism (2005), the publication that inaugurated the Critical Vanguard Studies movement, and The Avant-Garde: Race Religion War (2011), an interdisciplinary genealogy of the avant-garde concept. He is the editor of Avant-Garde Performance and Material Exchange (2011) and Ed Bullins: Twelve Plays and Selected Writings (2006). His essays have appeared in African American Review, modernism/modernity, New Literary History, TDR, Theatre Journal, and Theatre Survey as well as in anthologies published by Blackwell, Cambridge University, Oxford University, Palgrave Macmillan, and the University of Michigan. His scholarly achievements were honored by IUP in 2013 when he was awarded the prestigious IUP University Senate Distinguished Faculty Award for Research. He is a regular manuscript reviewer for Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, Modern Drama, African American Review, Blackwell Publishing Inc., the University of Michigan Press, Palgrave Macmillan Press, and Routledge.

    Mike’s interest in literature is interdisciplinary and cross-media. His work with dramatic literature focuses not only on the printed text, but on the many contexts in which that text might be staged and the many ways it might be performed. His work on the Black Arts Movement crosses the lines among literature, music, film, sculpture, and painting—and the lines between art and theory about art. His emphasis on theater and performance is a professional commitment, as well. He is a long-time member of the American Society for Theatre Research, serving on its executive committee, its annual research prize committee, and its conference committee.

    Mike is as passionate about teaching as he is his scholarship. He won four teaching excellence awards while a graduate student at the University of Michigan, including the prestigious Rackham Graduate School Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award and Grant. But he is most proud of the three Outstanding Professor of the Year, two Outstanding Adviser of the Year, and the Mentor of the Year honors he has earned at IUP, because these were awarded by student organizations based on student recommendations and votes.

    When he’s not reading, writing, or teaching, Mike is usually with his family, playing video and board games. He is an enthusiastic follower of Premier League soccer and roots for Chelsea. He plays, too, very badly. His Twitter timeline focuses on the avant-garde (#AvantGardeDocs), power, politics, family stuff, absurdity, and the Premier League. You can follow him @mike_sell.