By Stephen Wilson

The “Shakespeare and Race” colloquium returns to Lafayette College for its third installment, focusing this year on “Shakespeare, Race, and Queer Sexuality” and welcoming nationally renowned scholars and a noted actor/activist.

The 2021 colloquium will examine the longstanding divide between early modern critical race studies and early modern queer studies. While both fields emerged about three decades ago, they have led relatively independent existences. The colloquium explores the reasons for this disciplinary segregation and initiates a series of conversations that envisions productive dialogues for future collaborative work.

The study of this potential intersection comes at an important moment in time.

“In a multicultural society, one in which the changing social and political realities posit an intense cultural transformation, education that embraces inclusion, diversity, and antiracism is a requirement for serious academic enterprise,” says co-organizer Ian Smith, Richard H. Jr. ’60 and Joan K. Sell Chair in the Humanities.

“Race intersects with many other categories as the pandemic has taught us or as the evolving work in climate change makes clear. People’s lived identities are a crucial part of the experience of being a cultural citizen, so the intersection of race and queer sexuality is a vital inquiry that speaks to modern American life,” he adds.

Panelists include Jean E. Howard, Columbia University; Arthur Little Jr., UCLA; Mario DiGangi, Lehman College and the Graduate Center, CUNY; Simone Chess, Wayne State University; and Skyler Cooper, actor and activist. 

The event is organized by Smith, David Sterling Brown, Binghamton University, and Diane Windham Shaw, Lafayette College emerita.

“In addition to the four distinguished scholars who will be with us,” says Shaw, “we are thrilled to welcome Skyler Cooper, who brings such a wealth of stage, film, and life experience as an actor and activist. I am especially looking forward to Skyler’s Q&A session with Lafayette students.”

The two earlier initiatives, “Shakespeare, Race, and the Practical Humanities” (2017) and “Teaching Shakespeare and Race” (2019), provided an exploration of the range and value of Shakespeare and Race for research, teaching, and student learning.

Support and funding for Shakespeare and Race has come from the office of the president. The colloquium is indebted to President Byerly for her vision and her extraordinary commitment beginning in 2016 with the first invited speaker. Shakespeare and Race also is made possible with principal sponsorship from the Keefe Family Foundation. 

About the Event…

Shakespeare, Race, and Queer Sexuality
Keefe Colloquium in the Public Humanities

March 24, 2021: A Conversation Among Scholars
4:10-5:30 p.m.
Jean E. Howard, Columbia University
Arthur Little Jr., UCLA
Mario DiGangi, Lehman College and the Graduate Center, CUNY

April 7, 2021: An Actor Speaks
4:10-5:30 p.m.
Simone Chess, Wayne State University
Skyler Cooper, actor and activist


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