Teaching Shakespeare: White Supremacy and Dehumanization in US American Education

Fellow Project Academic Year

My project examines the various ways in which the teaching of Shakespeare in US American schools is often rooted in a logic of white supremacy and how understanding this can reveal that the most celebrated author in the humanities has been consistently used to dehumanize.

Beginning with an examination of how Shakespeare was deployed in the social and academic curriculum at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, I track why and how Shakespeare was taught during tumultuous periods in US American history including the Jim Crow era, the years leading up to and following WWII, the civil rights movement, the desegregation of US American schools following Brown v. Board of Education and the resegregation of US American schools in recent decades.

In doing so, I aim to tease out the connections between the how and why of teaching Shakespeare and the persistence of white supremacy in US American education. 

Mixed media artwork by Jessie Dann.

Fellow Project Principal Investigator

James E. WermersClinical Assistant Professor, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts; Faculty Fellow, Center for the Study of Race and Democracy