Author Craig R. Prentiss and his book, "Staging Faith: Religion and African American Theater from the Harlem Renaissance to World War II"
– Author Craig R. Prentiss will lecture on Thursday, Feb. 27, at Wofford College on the topic of his latest book, “Staging Faith: Religion and African American Theater from the Harlem Renaissance to World War II.”
The 4 p.m. lecture, to be held in the Sandor Teszler Library Gallery, is free and open to the public.
Prentiss is a professor of religious studies at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo.
Published by NYU Press, Prentiss’ book explores a “vital” black theatre movement, which took place between the Harlem Renaissance and WWII.” Playwrights during the movement continuously explored the role of religion in black identity.
Prentiss says it was a time of social transformation as there was a heavy migration, within the black community, from the “rural south to the urban-industrial north.” Storylines of the time reflected cultural tensions, fueled by class. Class divisions revealed “competing conceptions of religion’s role in the formation of racial identity.”
“Black playwrights pointed in quite different ways toward approaches to church, scripture, belief, and ritual that they deemed beneficial to the advancement of the race,” according to the publisher. “Their plays were important not only in mirroring theological reflection of the time, but in helping to shape African American thought about religion in black communities. The religious themes of these plays were in effect arguments about the place of religion in African American lives.”
Prentiss also is the editor of “Religion and the Creation of Race and Ethnicity: An Introduction” (New York University Press, 2003). He earned his B.A. from Bates College. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.