Jaye Austin Williams

Jaye Austin Williams

Associate Professor of Critical Black Studies
On Sabbatical Spring 2024
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About Jaye Austin Williams


  • Ph.D., *Joint doctoral program in Drama and Theatre, University of California Irvine and San Diego
  • M.F.A., Dramatic Writing, New York University's Tisch School of the Arts
  • B.S., Theatre, Skidmore College

* Critical Theory Emphasis

Professional and Academic Experience

Jaye Austin Williams is a scholar, director, playwright, actor, teacher, writer and consultant whose work has appeared on and off Broadway and regionally over the past thirty years. A specialist in the melding of drama theory, cinema and performance with Critical Black Studies, Professor Williams travels internationally and around the U.S. lecturing and teaching interdisciplinary seminars on the analysis of structural racism(s) -- in particular, antiblackness -- and their myriad performances, both subtle and overt, in modernity. Her current research focuses on these performed antagonisms as they are represented and/or perpetrated in and by cinema and drama.

Teaching and Research

As a scholar-artist, Professor Williams’ applied practice in academia has been through directing works that ground students’ discovery of Black drama and performance as portals into not only the psychological underpinnings of characters’ circumstances and the gesture of uplift that might be prompted by them, but also, the systemic and ongoing violence that impacts Black existence on a global scale. From her production of the celebratory Historic Black College and University (HBCU) tour of Emily Mann’s Having Our Say, which she later reprised at the Hangar Theatre, to her later productions, which include George C. Wolfe’s The Colored Museum and Kia Corthron’s A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick, she shifted her focus toward structural analyses of Black existence as a predicament for continuing thought around the largely unattended question: why do Black people suffer? Her forthcoming monograph, Staging (Within) Antiblack Violence: Toward a Radical Black Dramaturgy, examines this new emphasis and its implications in detail. In the classroom, Professor Williams stresses the import of critical reading and the steady augmentation of theoretical vocabulary as tantamount to building the musculature for studying filmic and dramatic performances; i.e., not of the actors, but, of the apparatuses (cinema and theatre) themselves, and their strengths and limits in articulating, not merely Black experience, but the scale of antiblack animus and how it bears down on that experience.

Courses Taught

  • Radical Black Drama and Performance

  • Cinema and the Performance of Slavery

  • Approaches to Critical Black Studies

  • (Really) Reading Black Plays - August Wilson, Pts. 1 and 2

  • Vampires & Zombies

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

“Medea’s (Black) Cast: On Dishonor and the Limits of Freedom Dreams, God’s Machines and Narrative Transposition,” Katherine Kinney, Ed., Pacific Coast Philology, the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Vol. 56, No. 1, 2021/2022.

“Radical Black Drama-as-Theory: the Black Feminist Dramatic on the Protracted Event-Horizon.” Theory & Event, Vol. 21, No. 1, 2018.

Volume Chapters

“Alienated Flesh at the Place of Drama and Death: Unearthing the In-human in Suzan-Lori Parks’ One-Character Play, Pickling.” Tiina Rosenberg, et al., Palgrave Handbook of Queer and Trans Feminisms in Contemporary Performance, Springer International Publishing AG, 2021.

“The Always Already of Anti-Blackness: Sara Morais dos Santos Bruss Interviews Jaye Austin Williams.” The Minor on the Move: Doing Cosmopolitanisms, K Crane, L Grasser, S Bruss, A von Rath, Eds., edition Assemblage, 2021.

“On the Trap(pings) of ‘Censorship’ Discourse and the ‘Civil’ Circumvention of Rupture.” In and Out of View: Art and the Dynamics of Circulatin, Suppression, and Censorship,” C Paquette, K Kleinfelder, C Miles, Eds., Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021.

“On the Table: Crumbs of Freedom and Fugitivity - A Twenty-First Century (re) Reading of Crumbs from the Table of Joy,” A Critical Companion to Lynn Nottage, Jocelyn L. Buckner, Ed., Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, 2016.


“[Review of:] Privileged Spectatorship: Theatrical Interventions in White Supremacy.” Theatre Survey, May 2021.

"Suzan-Lori Parks in Person, Philip C. Kolin and Harvey Young, Eds.", in Text & Presentation, McFarland, 2015.

"Film Review: Liberian Women Forge a Real-Life Lysistrata," On the Issues Magazine, 2010.

Research Sources and Public Scholarship

"Apollo Theatre," Oxford Bibliographies, Oxford University Press, July 2016.

"A Paradoxical Stroll Down Harlem's Memory Lane," Oxford University Press Blog, 2016.

"Thinking About Hollywood: Breaking the Entertainment Barrier," On the Issues Magazine, 2010.

Further Information

Contact Details