Jaye Austin Williams

Jaye Austin Williams

Assistant Professor of Critical Black Studies
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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

Professional and Academic Experience

Jaye Austin Williams, Assistant Professor and C. Graydon and Mary E. Rogers Faculty Fellow, is a 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 & performance with critical Black studies, Professor Williams travels internationally, lecturing and teaching interdisciplinary seminars on the analysis of structural racism(s) and their myriad performances, both subtle and overt, in modernity. Her current research focus is on Black dramatists' treatments of these performed antagonisms.

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, for example, her production of the Historical Black College and University (HBCU) tour of Emily Mann's Having Our Say, which she later reprised at the Hangar Theatre), she has moved toward structural analyses of Black existence as not only a beacon for profound cultural production, but also a predicament for continuing thought. Her productions at UC Irvine of George C. Wolfe's The Colored Museum, which forges a "prismic" analysis of the magnitude of Black suffering; and The Trial of Dedan Kimathi by Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Micere Mugo, which pitches postcolonial discourses around Black subjugation into a deeper examination of antiblackness as a world-making modality are exemplars. While serving as sabbatical replacement faculty at Middlebury College, she directed Suzan-Lori Parks' In the Blood, which emblemizes the systems of economic subjugation as means of foregrounding economics as but symptoms of a more exponential systemic violence against Black beings, in particular.

Courses Taught

  • Radical Black Drama and Performance
  • Black Performance Theory
  • Black Feminist Drama and Performance

Selected Publications


Williams, Jaye Austin. "Radical Black Drama-as-Theory: The Black Feminist Dramatic on the Protracted Event-Horizon." Theory & Event, vol. 21 no. 1, 2018, pp. 191-214.


"On the Table: Crumbs of Freedom and Fugitivity – A 21st Century (re)reading of Crumbs from the Table of Joy," in A Critical Companion to Lynn Nottage, Jocelyn L. Buckner, Ed., Routledge, June 2016.


"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.


"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.


"Radical Black Drama-as-Theory: The Black Feminist Dramatic on the Protracted Event-Horizon," Theory and Event, Special Issue on Afro-pessimism and Black Feminism, Johns Hopkins University Press, Fall 2017.


Kia Corthron in Concert: Selected Plays and Critical Engagements," an edited work pairing the dramatist-novelist's selected plays with an interdisciplinary array of Black scholars engaged with the political and structural critiques comprising Corthron's oeuvre.

Staging Slavery, Postcoloniality and Modernity: Melding Theory and Pedagogical Practice, a monograph rendering critical meta-analyses of several of Professor Williams' university productions.

Further Information

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