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Critical Race Conversations /

Critical Race Conversations: The Sound of Whiteness, or Teaching Shakespeare’s “Other ‘Race Plays’” in Five Acts

David Sterling Brown and Jennifer L. Stoever

Originally recorded on July 16, 2020

Program Overview

Quiet as it’s kept, every humanities professor already teaches profound lessons about race. Whether or not they intend them or are even aware of such lessons, the lessons are nonetheless happening. Thus, a large and important part of dismantling racism involves actively centering Black and Brown voices in the classroom and on syllabi. However, an equally critical element of anti-racist pedagogy involves identifying and challenging white centrality and the ways we work—consciously and unconsciously—to reproduce it in our various modes: syllabi, classrooms, universities, research agendas, critical fields, career pipelines, citation networks, and even publishing protocols.

In this “Critical Race Conversation,” a Black Shakespearean, Dr. David Sterling Brown (he/him/his), and a white African American Studies scholar, Dr. Jennifer Stoever (she/her/hers), offer an important and timely discussion that merges Shakespeare and Early Modern English Studies with Black Studies and Sound Studies to showcase accessible ways of integrating critical race studies into the premodern classroom. Implicitly critiquing the performativity of race, Brown and Stoever will explore anti-racist teaching practice in five Acts.

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About the Speakers

Dr. David Sterling Brown—a Shakespeare and premodern critical race studies scholar—is Assistant Professor of English at Binghamton University and executive board member of the RaceB4Race conference series. His anti-racist research agenda informs his pedagogy and engages critical race theory, whiteness studies and the psychology of racism. His scholarship is published or forthcoming in Shakespeare StudiesRadical TeacherHamlet: The State of PlayThe SundialWhite People in ShakespeareThe HareEarly Modern Black Diaspora StudiesShakespeare and Digital Pedagogy, and other venues.

Dr. Jennifer Lynn Stoever—a scholar of African American literature and culture—is Associate Professor of English at Binghamton University and Editor-in-Chief of Sounding Out: The Sound Studies Blog. Her anti-racist research agenda explores the relationship between race and sound; a recent article “‘Doing fifty-five in a fifty-four’: Hip hop, cop voice and the cadence of white supremacy in the United States” (JIVS 3.2) received an Outstanding Article Honorable Mention at the 2019 Association for Theatre in Higher Education Awards. The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening (NYU Press, 2016) is her first book.

Recommended Reading

The presenters for “Critical Race Conversations: The Sound of Whiteness, or Teaching Shakespeare’s ‘Other “Race Plays”’ in Five Acts” recommend reading the following five short selections in advance:

Hall, Kim F. “Beauty and the Beast of Whiteness: Teaching Race and Gender” in Shakespeare Quarterly 47.4 (Winter, 1996): 461-475.

Du Bois, W. E. B. “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” and “Of the Dawn of Freedom,”  Chapters I & II of The Souls of Black Folk (Project Gutenberg, 2008)—originally published in 1903.

Sterling Brown, David. “(Early) Modern Literature: Crossing the Color-Line” in Radical Teacher 105 (Summer 2016): 69-77.

Stoever, Jennifer Lynn. “The Sonic Color Line, Black Women, and Police Violence” in Black Perspectives, Journal of the African American Intellectual History Society (July 9, 2018).

Sterling Brown, David. “The ‘Sonic Color Line’: Shakespeare and the Canonization of Sexual Violence Against Black Men” in The Sundial (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, August 2019).

Stoever, Jennifer Lynn. “Introduction” to The Sonic Color Line (New York: NYU Press, 2016)—access courtesy of NYU Press.