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Resident ‘Othello-whisperer’ to discuss history of blackface

Arizona State University presents scholar, activist and "Othello-whisperer" Ayanna Thompson as a guest in its TomorrowTalks series. Thompson will discuss her book, "Blackface (Object Lessons)" in an online event on Thursday, April 15 at 6 p.m. Arizona time* (6 p.m. PDT / 7 p.m. MDT / 8 p.m. CDT / 9 p.m. EDT). The conversation with Thompson will be facilitated by ASU's Lisa Anderson, an associate professor of women and gender studies and deputy director in the School of Social Transformation.
In "Blackface," Thompson explains what blackface is, why it occurred, and what its legacies are in the 21st century. Why are there so many examples of public figures, entertainers, and normal, everyday people in blackface? And why aren't there as many examples of people of color in whiteface? There is a filthy and vile thread — sometimes tied into a noose — that connects the first performances of Blackness on English stages, the birth of blackface minstrelsy, contemporary performances of Blackness, and anti-Black racism. "Blackface" examines that history and provides hope for a future with new performance paradigms.
Ayanna Thompson is a scholar of Shakespeare, race, and performance and is author or editor of several books on the subject, including "Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America" and "The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race." She is a Regents Professor of English at Arizona State University where she directs the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and created RaceB4Race. She was recently named a trustee of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
TomorrowTalks place thought leaders of today in conversation with the changemakers of tomorrow: our students. Each distinguished speaker will explain how they use writing to address our most pressing challenges. In addition to Gates, spring 2021 speakers included Michael Eric Dyson (Feb. 25) and Melinda Gates (Mar. 18).

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