Heath Pennington

Graduate Student


Heath Pennington is a PhD candidate in the Department of Theater and Dance, and a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They hold an MA in Gender Studies from Central European University (with Distinction), an MA in Performance and Culture: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Goldsmiths University of London (with Distinction), and a BA in Theater and English Literature from the University of Southern California (summa cum laude.) Their research interests are affect, corporeality, environmentalism, feminism, gender, interdisciplinarity, LGBTQI+, palimpsests, performance, pornography, queer theory, sexuality, Shakespeare, site-specificity, sociology, and theatre.

Heath’s ethnographic dissertation project investigates how affect is generated and circulated through the embodied practices of BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism), probing how gendered and performative embodiments circulate affect within BDSM communities while (re)producing social values and intersectional oppressions.


Heath has taught English and Theatre in Hong Kong, and conducted field research in China, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK, and the US. At UC Santa Barbara, Heath is departmental representative to the GSA (Graduate Student Association), a member of the New Sexualities Research Focus Group, and a member of the Graduate Scholars Program.

They have presented work at the International Federation for Theatre Research 2019; at Durham University, the Society for Theatre Research New Researcher’s Network, and the University of Gratz in 2018; and between 2004 and 2017 with Taiwan BDSM, the University of Otago, the Asia Kink Con Hong Kong, the University of Roehampton Dance/Performance Research, Royal Holloway University, Brunel University, Bath Spa University, and the University of Southern California. Heath’s most recent article, “Rope Bondage and Affective Embodiments: A rhizomatic analysis,” was published bilingually in Corpo-Grafías 6(6). Their first article, “Kinbaku: the Liminal and The Liminoid in Ritual Performance,” appears in Performance of the Real E-Journal 1(1).

View their website at https://itsplay.weebly.com, and their ResearchGate at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Heath_Pennington.