Jennifer Roberts-Smith

Adjunct Associate Professor

Dr. Jennifer Roberts-Smith (PhD, Toronto) is an award-winning artist-researcher, whose transdisciplinary, design-based work explores performance, digital media, history, education, and social justice.

Knee to head shot of Jennifer Roberts-Smith in a leather jacket

She has been instrumental in securing the place of performance-informed scholarship in the digital humanities, including through the design of virtual historical reconstructions, pedagogical games, and justice-oriented digital pedagogical environments. JRS is currently a co-director of the qCollaborative (the critical feminist design research lab housed in the University of Waterloo’s Games Institute), and leads the SSHRC-funded Theatre for Relationality and Design for Peace projects. She is also creative director and virtual reality development cluster lead for the Digital Oral Histories for Reconciliation (DOHR) project. Her recent publications have focused on methods for design research that deepen interdisciplinary understanding and take a relational approach to design in community partnerships. In current creative work, JRS is exploring the integration of accessibility and aesthetics, and the relationship between virtual reality and the performative realities that were generated in the medieval and early modern theatre. Jennifer joined the University of Waterloo in 2007, after working as an actor and director in small and large scale Canadian theatres, and teaching at the universities of Ottawa, Toronto, and Windsor.Her work has been supported by SSHRC, MITACS, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Oculus, and an Ontario Early Researcher Award.

Recent work

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer, Milena Radzikowska, and Stan Ruecker, eds. Prototyping Across the Disciplines: Designing Better Futures. Intellect Books. Forthcoming in 2021.

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer, Shana MacDonald, and Brianna Wiens. “I can(‘t) do that: the multimangle of theatrical vibrancy.” Theatre and New Materialisms/Théâtre et Nouveaux matérialismes. Ed. Hervé Guay, Jean-Marc Larrue and Nicole Nolette. In press. 

Aikman, Lisa, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, and Stan Ruecker, with Kate Crozier, Jessica Hutchison, Carin Lowerison, Signy Lynch, May Nemat Allah, Julie Thompson, Matt White, and Hannah Watts. “Theatre for Relationality: A Case Study in Restorative Pedagogy, Relational Design, and Audience Engagement.” Impacting Audiences. Ed. Matt Omasta and Dani Snyder-Young. Routledge. The Routledge Theatre and Performance Series in Audience Research. Ed. Kirsty Sedgman. In press.

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer and Shawn DeSouza-Coelho. “Shakespeare, Game, and Play in Digital Pedagogical Shakespeare Games.” Games and Theatre in Early Modern England. Ed.  Tom Bishop, Gina Bloom, and Erika T. Lin. Routledge. In press. 

Brianna Wiens, Stan Ruecker, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Milena Radzikowska, and Shana MacDonald; with Sid Heeg, Sabrina Low, and Khartiki Bhatnager. "Materializing Data: New Research Methods for Digital Humanities." Digital Studies/Le champ numérique . Special Issue: Papers Arising from the 2019 Conference of the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities/Société Canadienne des humanités numériques. Ed. Barbara Bordalejo and Luis Meneses. 2020. 

Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Justin Carpenter, Kristina R. Llewellyn, and Jennifer J. Llewellyn, with Tracy Dorrington-Skinner, Gerald Morrison, Tony Smith, and the DOHR Team. “Relational Presence: Designing VR-based Virtual Learning Environments for Oral History-based Pedagogy.” Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. Special Issue: Extended Reality. Ed. Amanda Licastro, Victoria Szabo, and Angel David Nieves. 2020. 

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer (Creative Direction), Paul Cegys (Digital Scenography), William Chesney (Scenography), Arda Kizilkay (Technical Design), Colin Labadie (Sound), Robert Plowman (Narrative Design), Tracy Dorrington-Skinner (Stories), Gerald Morrison (Stories), Tony Smith (Stories), Kristina Llewellyn (Production), Jennifer Llewellyn (Production), and the DOHR Research Team.  The Home: The Digital Oral Histories for Reconciliation Virtual Reality Experience. Special Event: Canadian National Exhibit. Prague Quadrennial of Performance and Space. Curated by Snezana Pezic. Prague, CZ, July 9, 2019.

Roberts-Smith, Jennifer, Mark Kaethler, Toby Malone, Liza Giffen, Martin Holmes, Janelle Jenstad and Joseph Takeda. 2019. “Tagging Time and Space: TEI and the Canadian Stratford Festival Promptbooks.” Digital Studies/Le champ numérique 9(1): 9, pp. 1–16. 

Radzikowska, Milena, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Xinyue Zhou, and Stan Ruecker (2019). “A Speculative Feminist Approach to Project Management.” SDRJ: Strategic Design Research Journal.

Ferronato, Priscilla, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Lisa Mercer, and Stan Ruecker (2019). “Living Labs and the DH Centre: Lessons for Each from the Other.” Ed. Luis Meneses. Special Issue: INKE Beyond Open: Implementing Social Scholarship. KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies.

Stan Ruecker and Jennifer Roberts-Smith. "Design Research: Objects, Procedures, and New Understanding.” Technology | Architecture + Design. 2018. 

Jenstad, Janelle, Mark Kaethler, and Jennifer Roberts-Smith. Shakespeare’s Language in Digital Media: Old Words New Tools. Digital Research in the Arts and Humanities. Series eds. Marilyn Deegan, Lorna Hughes, Andrew Prescott, and Harold Short. Routledge. 2018.

 “Théâtre et humanités numériques. Du développement des outils aux design experimental. [Theatre and the digital humanities: from tool development to experience design].” Trans. Ioana Galleron. Revue d’Historiographie du Théâtre 4. Special Issue: Études théâtrales et humanités numériques. 2017.

“Activating Interpretation: Experience Design in the Humanities.” Making Humanities Matter. Ed. Jentery Seyers. Debates in the Digital Humanities. Ed.  Matthew Gold and Lauren Klein. University of Minnesota Press.  2017. With Stan Ruecker.

Courses taught

  • THPERF 200: Theatre and Performance in Context
  • THPERF 307/407/317/417: Production Participation
  • THPERF 100: Introduction to Theatre
  • THPERF 321/421: Approaches to Acting with Text