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FDP Colloquium - Lisa Thompson

Mon, April 29, 2013 | Gebauer (GEB) 4th Floor Conference Room

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

FDP Colloquium - Lisa Thompson

"The Rage of a Privileged Class: Angst, Anger and Alienation in Contemporary African American Theatre"

In The Rage of a Privileged Class (1993) Ellis Cose reveals that after the acquittal of the officers who beat motorist Rodney King the rise of racial alienation and “discontent was strongest among black households whose incomes were $50,000 or higher.” Recent Broadway plays such as Stew’s rock musical Passing Strange (2008) and Lydia Diamond’s family drama Stick Fly (2011) stage black middle class disenchantment with the limits of integration in the post-Civil Rights Era. The subdued performances of black middle class rage challenge notions about what constitutes black cultural trauma and serve to complicate representations of African American identity. Not only do these plays illustrate the toll that overt racism and deeply embedded racial hierarchies take on the psyche, but they also portray under-examined aspects of black suffering such as intra-racial conflict, the policing of racial authenticity as well as encounters with micro aggressions, institutional racism and stereotype threat. This talk will read Stick Fly and Passing Strange as rebuttals to claims about a post-racial society in the US and stand as evidence of the latest existential crisis among the most privileged African Americans.


Lisa B. Thompson is an associate professor in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at UT Austin. She is the author of the book Beyond The Black Lady: Sexuality And The New African American Middle Class (University of Illinois Press, 2009) which received Honorable Mention in competition for the Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize from the National Women's Studies Association. Her scholarship has appeared in Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, Finding A Way Home: A Critical Assessment Of Walter Mosley’s Fiction(University Press of Mississippi, 2008), and From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle-Class Performances (Wayne State University Press, 2011). She is also the author of several plays including Single Black Female (Samuel French, Inc., 2012) which has been produced throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Dr. Thompson is the recipient of fellowships and research support from Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, the University of California’s Office of the President, Michele R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, UCLA's Center for African American Studies, the Five Colleges Inc., the United University Professions and Stanford University's Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.

Sponsored by: CWGS

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