Tonight’s show, Shadows are Black: Slavery’s Long Setting, features a discussion on the text and context of Herman Melville’s 1855 novella “Benito Cereno.” “Benito Cereno” is clearly about slavery; but it also seems a deep meditation on the limits of the mind; on the ignorance of other ways to be minded; on the commonality of humanness (for “good” or “bad”). It is about America, it is about Spain, it is about Africa, and it is about cultural blindness and interpretive misconstrual. The stage setting is borrowed from Spain, the actors are nearly all African, and the play we’re watching turns out to be “The Ignorant American,” and the director is Babo.
Maisha Wester, an Associate Professor in Indiana University’s Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, and author of African American Gothic: Screams from Shadowed Places.
Christopher Freeburg, an Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois, and author of Melville and the Idea of Blackness: Race and Imperialism in Nineteenth Century America.
Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Board Engineer: Jonathan Richardson
Social Media: Carissa Barrett
Executive Producer: Joe Crawford