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Sandra Shannon

Sandra Shannon

Professor | Department of English

Dr. Sandra G. Shannon is Professor Emerita of African American Literature in the Department of English at Howard University.  She is widely acknowledged as a major scholar in the field of African American drama and the leading authority on playwright August Wilson.  She is the author of two groundbreaking book-length studies: The Dramatic Vision of August Wilson (Howard University Press 1995) and August Wilson’s Fences: A Reference Guide (Greenwood 2003) and has  served as Editor or Co-editor of four key essay collections that focus upon August Wilson’s plays and that chart the course of modern American theatre:  August Wilson and Black Aesthetics—Co-edited with Dana Williams (Palgrave – McMillan 2004) and MLA Approaches to Teaching the Plays of August Wilson—Co-edited with Sandra Richards (MLA 2016).  Dr. Shannon was also the sole Editor for August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle (McFarland 2016) and for Modern American Drama: Playwriting in the 1980s:  Voices, Documents, New Interpretations (Bloomsbury 2018).   She has taught and team taught undergraduate and graduate level courses and continues to organize annual conferences on Wilson's work and respond to invitations to lecture on Wilson's American Century Cycle plays.

Dr. Shannon is also the author of numerous essays and chapters on Wilson—including her most recent publications on Wilson’s American Century Cycle plays in the Routledge Companion to African American Theatre and Performance (2019) and in Visions of Tragedy in Modern American Drama: From O’Neill to the Twenty-First Century (2018).   She is also a contributor to published collections that include Alan Nadel’s  May All Your Fences Have Gates: Essays on the Drama of August Wilson (Iowa 1994) and August Wilson: Completing the Twentieth-Century Cycle (Iowa 2010); Marilyn Elkins’ August Wilson: A Casebook (Garland 1994); Philip Kolin’s The Influence of Tennessee Williams (McFarland 2008); Harvey Young’s The Cambridge Companion to African American Literature (Cambridge 2013);  Harry Elam and David Krasner’s African American Performance and Theatre History (Oxford 2001); and Martin Middeke’s Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary American Playwrights (Methuen 2014).  Her essays on August Wilson have appeared in African American Review, MELUS, College Literature, and Theatre Survey.

As Founder and current President of the nationally recognized August Wilson Society, which was established within Howard’s College of Arts and Sciences in spring 2006 to honor the late playwright, she continues to organize annual national conferences and seek grant funding for the organization.   In April 2018, she was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre as a “distinguished achiever in professional and educational theatre,” and in July 2018, she was awarded the prestigious Winona Fletcher Award from the Black Theatre Network for her “academic excellence in theatre scholarship.”

Dr. Shannon served terms as Editor of Theatre Topics journal and as President of the Black Theatre Network.  She currently serves as Editor of the College Language Association Journal and founding board member of Black Theatre Network’s Continuum: The Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre, and Performance.  She was invited to be a key consultant and one of several scholars featured in the 2015 PBS-American Masters documentary August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand


Sandra Shannon and the August Wilson documentary 

The Dramatic Vision of August Wilson 

August Wilson's Fences: A Reference Guide (Greenwood Guides to Literature)

August Wilson and Black Aesthetics

Against the Grain: August Wilson on Black America

A Transplant that Did not Take: August Wilson's Views on the Great Migration

The influence of Tennessee Williams : essays on fifteen American playwrights

English Professor Helps Keep August Wilson’s Legacy Alive 202 806 5443
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