Clarifying Conversations

March 20, 2014

Representations of Race and Identity in Contemporary American Culture, a public program of NCA.



Richard West's NCA Presidential Initiative

Responding to ongoing public discussions about race and identity, this panel is an interactive dialogue about how race and identity are represented, articulated, constituted, and enacted in various ways in American culture, from political discussions to popular culture, in the news media and among citizens in everyday conversation. This event was held on March 20, 2014 at Emerson College in Boston, MA.


  • Harvey Young, an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre at Northwestern University, is an award-winning author and an internationally recognized authority on African-American culture and the performing arts. Professor Young is the author of Embodying Black Experience and Theatre & Race, and co-editor of Performance in the Borderlands andReimagining A Raisin in the Sun: Four New Plays.


  • Anne Demo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University. Professor Demo’s work explores the relationships between visual/digital rhetoric and U.S. cultural politics. She is the co-editor of Rhetoric, Remembrance, and Visual Form: Sighting Memory.
  • Kimberly McLarin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing, Literature & Publishing at Emerson College. She appears regularly on the Emmy Award-winning show Basic Black, Boston’s long-running television program devoted to African-American themes, airing weekly on WGBH-TV. Professor McLarin is the author of four books, including Jump at the Sun, which was chosen as a 2007 Fiction Honor Book by both the Massachusetts Center for the Book and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Her new memoir, Divorce Dog, was published last year.
  • Tom Nakayama, a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Northeastern University, studies intercultural communication and whiteness. A former editor of the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, he is co-editor of the Handbook of Critical Intercultural Communication.
  • Jeff Schaffer, a producer, writer, and director for television and film, is currently the Executive Producer of The League. His writing credits include episodes of the television programs Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm and the films Brüno and The Dictator. He directed the 2004 film EuroTrip.
  • Angharad N. Valdivia is the Department Head of Media and Cinema Studies at the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. In examinations of media studies and contemporary mainstream popular culture, Professor Valdivia combines the areas of gender studies with ethnic studies and transnational studies. She is the managing editor of the International Encyclopedia of Media Studies.