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Notions, constructions, and performances of race continue to define the contemporary American experience, including our conceptions, performances, and employments of Shakespeare. Passing Strange examines the contact zones between American constructions of Shakespeare and American constructions of race by asking: How is Shakespeare's universalism constructed within explicit discussions and debates about racial identity? Of what benefit is the promotion of Shakespeare and Shakespearean programs to incarcerated and/or at-risk persons of color? Are they aesthetic, moral, or linguistic? Do Shakespeare's plays need to be edited, appropriated, revised, updated, or rewritten to affirm racial equality and relevance? Do the answers to these questions impact our understanding of authorship, authority, and authenticity? A book that does not shy away from controversial topics or unconventional approaches, Passing Strange examines a wide range of contemporary texts and performances, including contemporary films, novels, theatrical productions, YouTube videos, and arts education programs. In addition, Passing Strange is written for a broad readership, including Shakespeare scholars, secondary school teachers, theatre practitioners, racial activists, and arts education organizers. Uniquely, this book challenges its readers to see American constructions of race and Shakespeare in glorious Technicolor.
Ayanna Thompson is Associate Dean of Faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of English at Arizona State University. She specializes in Renaissance drama and focuses on issues of race and performance.