Stanford professor to address politics and performing race

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of Dr. Harry J.  Jr.


KALAMAZOO—A Stanford University drama professor and award-winning author will examine the intersection of politics and performing race when he speaks at Western Michigan University as part of a series offered by the University Center for the Humanities.

Dr. Harry J. Elam Jr., who fills a long list of posts at Stanford, will speak at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, in 2008 Richmond Center. His presentation, titled "The Power and Politics of Performing Race," is free and open to the public.

Dr. Harry J. Elam Jr.

Elam is the Olive H. Palmer Professor in the Humanities, the Freeman-Thornton Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education and professor of drama at Stanford. His books include the Errol Hill Prize-winning "The Past as Present in the Drama of August Wilson" as well as "Taking It to the Streets: The Social Protest Theater of Luis Valdez and Amiri Baraka." He also is co-editor of several books, including "African American Performance and Theater History: A Critical Reader" and "Colored Contradictions: An Anthropology of Contemporary African American Drama."

He has won the Excellence in Editing Award from the Association of Theatre in Higher Education and the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society of Theatre Research. He also was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre and has directed professionally for more than 20 years.

In his presentation, which is part of the humanities center's 2012-13 Power and Publics Series, Elam will look at what it means to perform race and how the public can understand the relationship between race and performance. His talk will examine the meanings of various performances and explore the interrelations of racial performances in everyday life to those on stage and in film. Case studies will range from the horrible spectacle of slavery to the plays of Lorraine Hansberry to the film "Bamboozled" and the 2012 presidential race.

About the series

The Power and Publics Series was inspired by the 2012 elections. The University Center for the Humanities invites community members to join in a discussion of various publics and their political power. Elam's talk is co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society, College of Fine Arts, Department of Theatre, Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Office of the Provost.

For more information about the center or the series, visit