Shandell Co-edits Anthology That Examines ‘Experiments in Democracy’

By Caitlin Burns | August 18, 2016

Jonathan Shandell, associate professor of Theater Arts, co-edited Experiments in Democracy: Interracial and Cross-Cultural Exchange in American Theater, 1912-1945, alongside Dr. Cheryl Black, professor of theatre and director of graduate studies at the University of Missouri. Published by Southern Illinois University Press in June, the anthology explores interracial collaboration on the American stage before the Civil Rights Movement.

In the book’s thirteen chapters, theater historians analyze a wide range of performances—from Broadway, folk plays, and dance productions to scripted political rallies and radio dramas. Focusing on questions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality on the stage, Experiments in Democracy fills an important gap in our understanding of American theater and sheds light on these still-relevant questions in contemporary society.

In addition to writing the book’s introduction, Shandell also contributed a chapter on Anna Lucasta, a Broadway production that featured an all-African American cast in 1944.

Reviewers have heralded the anthology as being a work that would appeal to a wide range of audiences.

“This extraordinary collection of essays is thoroughly engaging and enlightening [and] will have appeal to both scholars and the general reader,” said Jorge A. Huerta, author of Chicano Theatre: Themes and Forms and Chicano Drama: Performance, Society, and Myth.

The book can be purchased on the Southern Illinois University Press website.