“Hollow Men: Theater, Race, and Early Modern Blackface” – Presented by Ian Smith

The UCSB Early Modern Center is excited to announce our 2023 Bliss-Zimmerman Lecture:

“Hollow Men: Theater, Race, and Early Modern Blackface.”

Dr. Ian Smith (Lafayette College)

Wednesday, May 17, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

IHC McCune Conference Room (HSSB 6020)

“For modern audiences and readers, “blackface” conjures up images we have come to associate mostly with nineteenth-century American blackface minstrelsy. The early modern English stage tradition introduces us to a different set of practices and blackface technologies. The talk will examine the use of these non-cosmetic prosthetics and their relation to conceptions of blackness in modernity by way of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost.”

Dr. Ian Smith is the Richard H., Jr. ’60 and Joan K. Sell Professor in the Humanities in the department of English at Lafayette College. He is the author of Race and Rhetoric in Renaissance England: Barbarian Errors (2009) and collaborator on Othello Re-imagined in Sepia (2012). His most recent monograph Black Shakespeare: Reading and Misreading Race has been published by Cambridge UP (2022). He is the recipient of multiple fellowships in support of his scholarship and currently holds the Los Angeles Times chair in the History and Culture of the Americas at the Huntington Library (2022-23). He is also the President of the Shakespeare Association of America. 

This event is co-sponsored by the UCSB Early Modern Center, the Department of English, and the Department of History. The Bliss-Zimmerman Memorial Lecture honors the memories and legacies of two eminent EMC faculty members, Lee Bliss (1943-2006) and Everett Zimmerman (1936-2003).

Leading up to Dr. Smith’s presentation, we have planned two events:

1) We will host a discussion of Dr. Smith’s latest bookBlack Shakespeare: Reading and Misreading Race, moderated by Prof. Bernadette Andrea, on May 16 at 2:00 p.m in South Hall 2510 (the Early Modern Center). Attendees should read the introduction and first chapter (“The Racialized Reader”) of Dr. Smith’s book, which is available at this link in the UCSB library.  

2) Interested graduate students are also invited to attend a lunch with Dr. Smith at noon on Wednesday, May 17, in the Early Modern Center (South Hall 2510). Graduate students will be able to discuss their academic projects with Dr. Smith in an informal setting, and he will answer questions about his own work. Please fill out this form to register. Attendance is capped at 15 people, and sandwiches will be provided.