Theater, African American Studies Scholar Appointed Interim Georgetown College Dean

Posted in News Story

November 11, 2020

Georgetown has appointed performing arts and African American studies scholar Soyica Colbert as the new interim dean for Georgetown College, effective Jan. 1.

Colbert, the Idol Family Professor of Georgetown College, currently serves as vice dean of faculty and director of arts initiatives in Georgetown College.

The distinguished academic has been involved in a wide variety of cooperative efforts across many fields since she joined the Georgetown faculty in 2013. She has been focused on advancing research and fostering a sense of belonging in the College community – from the ongoing programming of the Humanities Initiative to the Racial Justice Speakers series.

She has served as a dramaturg for productions at Arena Stage of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, August Wilson’s Two Trains Running and Eduardo Machado’s Celia and Fidel. She also served as a dramaturg for Shakespeare Theatre Company’s presentation of James Baldwin’s Amen Corner and was appointed as an associate director at the theater this past August.

“Through her important scholarship, her leadership across the university, her mentorship of students and colleagues, and her exceptional dedication to strengthening our Georgetown community, professor Colbert’s contributions have already had an extraordinary impact on our university,” says Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “We are deeply grateful for the expertise and vision that she brings to this new role and look forward to the many ways in which her experience and leadership will strengthen Georgetown College.”

Colbert has authored numerous works – including The African American Theatrical Body: Reception, Performance and the Stage (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and Black Movements: Performance and Cultural Politics (Rutgers University Press, 2017). She edited the Black Performance special issue of African American Review (2012) and co-edited The Psychic Hold of Slavery (2016) and Race and Performance After Repetition (2020).

“We are in the midst of a historic change in our country and the world. The pandemic has exposed the deep inequalities that plague our country and pose a profound challenge for higher education,” says the scholar. “During my appointment, I hope to continue my life’s work of expanding access, working to redress systemic racism and building stable and equitable structures that support research and teaching for the common good.”

She is currently working on two book projects, Radical Vision: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry (Yale University Press, 2021) and a co-written volume, Black Existentialism.

Colbert is the recipient of the Schomburg Scholars-in-Residence Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson Foundation Career Enhancement Fellowship, Stanford Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship, Mellon Summer Research Grant, and the Robert W. Woodruff Library Fellowship.

Her research interests span the 19th-21st centuries – from Harriet Tubman to Beyoncé and from poetics to performance.

Colbert studied English at Georgetown and graduated in 2001 prior to earning her master’s and Ph.D. in 2006 from Rutgers University.

“I first began to understand myself as a scholar during my undergraduate training at Georgetown, so it is deeply meaningful to serve as the interim dean of the College,” says the Georgetown alumna. “I would not be in this position without the generous support of my mentors. As I navigate the world, I often think about the people that paved the way for me and how I can honor their legacy.”

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