Peter Erickson

Peter Erickson received his BA, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Amherst College; spent a graduate year on fellowship at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham in England; and completed his PhD at the University of California at Santa Cruz. One of the founders of feminist Shakespeare criticism in the early nineteen-eighties, Erickson is currently part of a group of scholars working to establish the study of race, including racial whiteness, in the field of Renaissance culture. His wider interests are both cross-disciplinary—with dual commitments to literature and visual art—and cross-historical—with strong investments in contemporary culture, as well as the Renaissance. Erickson is the author of Patriarchal Structures in Shakespeare’s Drama (1985), Rewriting Shakespeare, Rewriting Ourselves (1991), and Citing Shakespeare: The Reinterpretation of Race in Contemporary Literature and Art (2007). He has co-edited three volumes: ShakespearesRough Magic” (1985), Early Modern Visual Culture: Representation, Race, and Empire in Renaissance England (2000), and Approaches to Teaching Shakespeares Othello (2005). The working title of his new book project is Transfiguring Race: Racial Iconographies in Cross-Historical Perspective.


PhD University of California, Santa Cruz
BA Amherst College

Honors and Awards

Research Fellow, Folger Shakespeare Library, 2005

Clark Fellow, Clark Art Institute, 2004-2005

Recent Publications

Erickson’s recent articles in the visual field involve studies of race both in Renaissance and contemporary art–from “Invisibility Speaks: Servants and Portraits in Early Modern Visual Culture” and a major review essay on “Picturing Race: Early Modern Constructions of Racial Identity” to a survey of the Black Atlantic as a subject in recent art. Other articles focus on the white South African artist William Kentridge, as well as contemporary African American artists, including Nick Cave, Glenn Ligon, Derek Walcott, and Fred Wilson, to which new work in progress adds Barkley Hendricks, Isaac Julien, and Kerry James Marshall. Erickson’s writing in the area of performance studies addresses colorblind casting and contemporary revisions of Shakespeare by Rita Dove, Young Jean Lee, Toni Morrison, and Djanet Sears. He has published a full-length interview with Harry Lennix, a graduate of the theatre program at Northwestern, and a chapter on the novelist Leon Forrest, who taught at Northwestern for many years.

Complete Publications [pdf]

Peter Erickson

Senior Lecturer; faculty affiliate in African American Studies




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