© 2008

Engaging Audiences

A Cognitive Approach to Spectating in the Theatre

  • Authors

Part of the Cognitive Studies in Literature and Performance book series (CSLP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Bruce McConachie
    Pages 1-21
  3. Bruce McConachie
    Pages 23-63
  4. Bruce McConachie
    Pages 65-120
  5. Bruce McConachie
    Pages 121-183
  6. Bruce McConachie
    Pages 185-207
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 209-248

About this book


Engaging Audiences asks what cognitive science can teach scholars of theatre studies about spectator response in the theatre. Bruce McConachie introduces insights from neuroscience and evolutionary theory to examine the dynamics of conscious attention, empathy and memory in theatre goers.


attention cognition cognitive science empathy memory neuroscience theatre theatre studies

About the authors

BRUCE McOCNACHIE is Professor and Chair of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, University of Pittsburgh, USA.

Bibliographic information


'Armed with a deep knowledge of the history of spectatorship, McConachie constructively engages with the recent findings of cognitive scientists to challenge fundamental assumptions about how and why we view and recall theatrical events. The result is a thoughtful, readable, and provocative work with important implications for critical theory, historiography, and production.' - John Emigh, Professor of Theatre, Speech, and Dance and of English, Brown University

'Engaging Audiences provides a major synthesis of theatre/performance and cognitive studies. McConachie finds just the right balance between scientific details and theatrical examples.' - Philosophy and Literature

'In its formidable combination of clarity, engagement, and rigour, it present[s] a persuasive case that theatre and performance studies should pay more attention to the workings of the mind...A landmark in both theatre history and theories of audience reception.' - Theatre Research International