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Theatre scholar is 2009 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor

Miller to present lecture April 30

Henry Miller, a professional theatre scholar, playwright and dramatist, is the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor at KU this semester. Miller will present the Hughes Visiting Professorship Lecture “Abydos Revisited: World's Oldest Drama, Religious Sexuality & The Promise of a New Black Drama Aesthetic!” at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 30, at Crafton-Preyer Theatre in Murphy Hall.

Henry Miller

Miller is teaching classes in the Department of Theatre and Film this semester. An undergraduate course explores the history of black drama from slavery-era America until the Great Depression. He also teaches a graduate course in black dramatic theory. Both courses deal with plays written by Langston Hughes, the namesake of the professorship, as well as several other authors.

He has held visiting professorships at the Memphis Theological Seminary, North Carolina A&T State University and the City College of New York.

Miller said he was drawn to KU because the university showed support for his scholarly work and his work in the theatre.

“KU is the first university I have come in contact with that really valued both my experience as a theatre artist and as a scholar,” Miller said. “I was born a theatre artist and then became a scholar.”

Miller has directed more than 30 African-American theatrical productions and has written several plays, including “Death of a Dunbar Girl,” “A Winter Reunion,” “Gifts of Parting” and “3 Scenes Before a Door.” He has written several scholarly papers and articles on drama and holds a doctorate in theatre from the City University of New York. He also holds a master’s in theatre and bachelor’s in film and video, both from City College of New York.

His public lecture will explore “Abydos,” the oldest play known to man. An Egyptian play, Abydos set the stage not only for African-American drama but also for Ancient Greek drama and all that followed.

“I’ve always considered Africa the beginning of civilization, and therefore the beginning of culture, which led to the beginning of theatre,” Miller said.

The Langston Hughes Visiting Professorship rotates among departments at KU to bring prominent scholars to campus who share Hughes’ interests. It was established in 1977 to honor the late poet, playwright and historian who lived in Lawrence as a child.


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