In our second episode, Fred Lawrence welcomes professor Ayanna Thompson. She specializes in Renaissance drama and issues of race in performance. She discusses the universality of Shakespeare while honing in on how he would have reacted to racialized readings of his work. Would he recognize that race plays a role in his plays? Would he agree with Thompson that one of his characters delivers “the first Black-Power speech in English”? What would he think of “Hamilton” and its non-traditional casting? These and other fascinating questions make for a memorable conversation with one of the country’s premiere Shakespeare scholars.

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Key Conversations with Phi Beta Kappa is a new podcast featuring in-depth conversations between Fred Lawrence, Secretary/CEO of Phi Beta Kappa, and Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars. With a new episode released every six weeks, each podcast invites listeners to take a seat at the table to learn more about the featured Scholar's background, research, and how they have taken their respective paths to where they are now, and where they are headed. 

Since 1956, the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program has been offering undergraduates the opportunity to spend time with some of America's most distinguished scholars. The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the campus by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholars and the resident faculty and students.​


Ayanna Thompson headshot


Ayanna Thompson

 

Ayanna Thompson is director of the Arizona Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) at Arizona State University. She is the author of "Shakespeare in the Theatre: Peter Sellars" (Arden Bloomsbury, 2018), "Teaching Shakespeare with Purpose: A Student-Centred Approach" (Arden Bloomsbury, 2016), "Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America" (Oxford University Press, 2011), and "Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage" (Routledge, 2008). Professor Thompson is the 2018-19 president of the Shakespeare Association of America, and has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Marshall Scholars.

Our Host

Our Host

Frederick M. Lawrence is the 10th Secretary and CEO of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. An accomplished scholar, teacher and attorney, he is one of the nation’s leading experts on civil rights, free expression, and bias crimes. Learn More.

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