Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies


Leon J. Hilton is an Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies and a faculty affiliate with the Gender and Sexuality Studies and Science and Technology Studies programs.

Before joining the faculty at Brown he was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his PhD from the Department of Performance Studies at New York University in 2016 and his BA from the College of Letters at Wesleyan University in 2007. His research focuses on modern and contemporary theatre and performance, with particular attention to the way these fields overlap with disability studies and neurodiversity, feminist and queer theory, critical race studies, and psychoanalysis.

His first book, forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press, examines how cultural attitudes towards neurological disability and difference have been represented, negotiated, and contested in performance across a range of genres—including theatre, documentary film, and media and performance art—from the mid-20th century through the present. 

His research has been supported by a Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant and a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, and is published in GLQThird TextAfrican American ReviewThe Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, HowlroundThe Los Angeles Review of BooksArt In America, and TDR/The Drama Review, where he was Managing Editor from 2011–2013. He has previously taught in the Department of Performance Studies at NYU, the program in Critical Theory and Social Justice at Occidental College, and the Cinema Studies program at the University of Pennsylvania.

He is on the advisory board of Spectrum Theatre Ensemble, a neurodiverse theatre company based in Providence, RI. In 2022, he was one of 10 scholars to receive the Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Award from the Institute for Citizens & Scholars, in support of junior faculty whose research focuses on contemporary American history, politics, culture, and society, and who are committed to the creation of an inclusive campus community for underrepresented students and scholars.

Brown Affiliations