Annual Catherine Silverstone Lecture 2021: Joshua Chambers-Letson

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The inaugural Annual Catherine Silverstone Lecture presented by Prof Joshua Chambers-Letson (Northwestern University) at Queen Mary (online)

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The Department of Drama at Queen Mary University of London is honoured to announce the inaugural Annual Catherine Silverstone Lecture, held in memory of our dear friend and colleague, the late Professor Catherine Silverstone, who passed away on 4 October 2020.

The lecture will be presented by Professor Joshua Chambers-Letson.

Attendance is FREE.

All are welcome.

Prof Chambers-Letson will give a lecture titled Love Will Never Do: Black and Brown Love in a Queer Rhythm Nation.


Joshua Chambers-Letson offers a meditation on the queer textures of Black and Brown love that flow through and between Janet Jackson’s landmark 1989 album Rhythm Nation 1814 and Dorian Wood’s reimagining of the work as a solo performance (ongoing from 2016). If the 23-year-old Jackson framed her album as an expression of black love, one that was overdetermined by the multicultural harmonies of late capitalism at the millennium’s end, Wood’s transfiguration of the work restages it as a fleshy, fractious, and melancholic brown queer lament in an era of revanchist white nationalism. A story about being with-and-in-difference, the talk explores the queer folds of love and loss that emerge in scenes of relation and repair between Black and Brown people amidst a world coming undone.

About the Annual Catherine Silverstone Lecture

Those of us who had the pleasure to work with Catherine knew her to be an intuitive thinker, a brilliant doctoral supervisor, a generous, warm, and committed teacher, and a bold leader, notably in her tenure as Head of the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary. Catherine was a highly regarded scholar of contemporary queer and decolonial studies, including in Māori performance of Shakespeare in Aotearoa New Zealand, the films of Derek Jarman, and LGBTQIA culture broadly, including in relation to club performance, queer adolescence, and performances of queer affirmation and remembrance, trauma and death. This named lecture honours and celebrates Catherine’s legacy by inviting a speaker to present research that is distinguished for its reflection of some of the characteristics of Catherine’s own research: rigorous, passionate, and intellectually searching in its attention to theatre and performance; elegant in its interdisciplinarity; committed to challenging the authority of the canon, whether by disturbing the influence of historical texts and authorships or by trafficking seemingly “illegitimate” objects and practices into scholarship; and robustly inclusive in its concern for feminist, queer, trans, Indigenous, Black and Brown scholarship and practices, including in the Global South.

About Joshua Chambers-Letson

Joshua Chambers-Letson is a Professor in the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University (US). His books include After the Party: A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life (NYU Press, 2018) and A Race So Different: Law and Performance in Asian American Performance (NYU Press, 2013). With Tavia Nyong’o he is the co-editor of José Esteban Muñoz’s posthumous monograph, The Sense of Brown (Duke University Press, 2020). Twice a winner of the Outstanding Book Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (2019, 2014), Chambers-Letson is also the recipient of the 2019 Errol Hill Award from the American Society for Theatre Research. With Ann Pellegrini and Tavia Nyong’o he is a series co-editor of the Sexual Cultures series at NYU Press.

[Photos of Catherine Silverstone courtesy of People's Palace Projects)

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