Ian Smith

Sell Professor in the Humanities, Lafayette College

Ian Smith is the Richard and Joan Sell Professor in the Humanities at Lafayette College in the department of English where he teaches courses in Shakespeare and early modern drama, early modern and critical race studies, and sexuality. He is the author of Race and Rhetoric in the Renaissance: Barbarian Errors (2009) and collaborator on Othello Re-imagined in Sepia(2012). His work on Shakespeare and early modern drama has been published in several anthologies and journals. His research interests include “racial blindspots” and conventions of reading Shakespeare; barbarism and linguistic racialism; rethinking Shakespeare’s contemporary relevance through the notion of race and the “practical humanities”; and early modern racial impersonation (blackface theater) and ontologies of blackness. He is currently preparing a book on Shakespeare and race titled Black Shakespeare.


Thursday, March 28

12:15-1:30: Reports from the Lafayette Classroom: Faculty and Students

“The Qualities of Mercy Project”

Presentation abstract: Fourteen Shakespeare classes in eleven states, including Lafayette College’s E377: “What’s Happening in Early Modern Studies: Shakespeare and Company,” taught by Professor Ian Smith of the English Department, are collaborating on a project involving Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice during the 2018-19 academic year. Each class will contribute to a shared YouTube channel a short video of a performance, adaptation, or appropriation of a scene in the play.  Individual classes determine what they want to do with their scene. One shared goal, however, is to place our students into a national community and at the same time get them thinking about regional interpretations and engagement. The goal is not to produce a seamless and coherent interpretation of the play in fourteen settings but rather to consider what happens to Merchant as it moves through various spaces and cultures.  So, we ask collectively: what are the qualities of mercy that are important to us here and now, on this campus, in this state, or in this region of the country? The Qualities of Mercy Project is directed by Professor Jonathan Burton of Whittier College, who is also a presenter at this year’s Keefe Colloquium.