An award-winning University of Kansas theatre professor will offer a unique behind-the-scenes appreciation of the influence of hip-hop in performance and culture.
Associate Professor of Theatre Nicole Hodges Persley, this year’s winner of the Byron T. Shutz Award for Excellence in Teaching, will present “The Message: Improvising Hip Hop as Critical Pedagogy in the 21st Century Classroom” at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9, in The Commons of Spooner Hall. The lecture will offer insight to her work as a scholar-artist who uses improvisational practices in hip-hop music and culture to inform her teaching and research.
Nicole Hodges Persley has been part of the KU faculty since 2009. Her research addresses the effect of racial, ethnic and national identity on performance practices in theater, television and film. Her forthcoming book, “Sampling and Remixing Blackness,” examines the effect of African-American expressions of blackness in hip-hop on the artistic practices of non-African-American artists in theater, conceptual art and dance in the United States and England. Hodges Persley has lived and conducted performance research in England, France, Senegal and Germany. She is one of the founding program directors of the Hiphop Archive & Research Institute at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.
The Shutz Award nomination described Hodges Persley as the exemplar of the scholar-artist who brings both sides of this profile to bear in an approach to teaching that is uniquely imaginative, playful, intelligent and demanding. Students call Hodges Persley a life-changer — a faculty member who encourages students to be true to themselves but who also finds ways to get students to deliver more than they thought possible. She is known for focusing on clear goals that lead to better course content, new preparation of courses to meet student and department needs, and reflection on teaching practices.
A scholar-artist, Hodges Persley is a member of SAG/AFTRA with professional credits in theater, television and film. Her performance and directing work has been featured at the Kansas City Fringe Festival, the California Hip Hop Theater Festival, The Hammer Museum and Highways Performance Space. She has been a featured contributor for American Theatre magazine and has published book chapters on hip-hop theater and articles on Tyler Perry, Jay-Z and Suzan-Lori Parks, with forthcoming work on Iggy Azalea, Drake and Idris Elba. She earned her doctorate in American Studies and Ethnicity from the University of Southern California in 2009.
The Shutz award was established by the late Byron T. Shutz in 1978. Faculty members are nominated for this annual award by deans, department chairs or faculty colleagues. The honoree receives a one-time stipend of $4,000 and delivers a public lecture later in the academic year. The lecture is followed by a reception in the recipient’s honor.