Lisa Thompson

Associate Professor

Ph.D., Modern Thought in Literature, Stanford University

M.A. African American Studies, University of

B.A. English, University of California, Los Angeles

Humanities 324


Beyond the Black LadyBooks

Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class, University of Illinois Press, New Black Studies Series edited by Dwight A. McBride and Darlene Clark Hine, (Spring 2009).

Selected Articles and Reviews

“Easy Women: Black Beauty in Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins Mystery Series.” Finding a Way Home: A Critical Assessment of Walter Mosley's Fiction. Owen Brady and Derek Maus, eds. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, forthcoming October 2008.

Watsonville and Circles in the Dirt.” Review. Theatre Journal, 56.3 (October 2004): 523-525.

A Beautiful Pageant: African American Theatre, Drama and Performance in the Harlem Renaissance, 1910-1927 by David Krasner and Stories of Freedom in Black New York by Shane White.” Review. Theatre Survey: The Journal of the American Society for Theatre Research, 45.1 (May 2004): 123-125.

Selected Presentations

“August Wilson and the End of History.” August Wilson: The Second Half of the Cycle; April 2008, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.

“Soul Food: Reconsidering Black Middle Class Sexuality in Contemporary Film.” Symposium: From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle Class Performances; October 2007, University of Iowa, Iowa City.

“The Spectacle of the Respectable: Reading the Black Middle Class Body.” Black Body: Imagining, Writing, (Re) Reading Conference; April 2004, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois.

“Revisionist Theatre: Robert O'Hara's Insurrection: Holding History.” The Association for Theatre in Higher Education; August 2003 New York, New York.

“Anna Deavere Smith’s Search for American Character: Race & Cultural Memory.” XIV World Congress of the International Federation of Theatre Research; July 2002 Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

“ ‘No More Than Slight Hysteria’: Reinventing the Other in Sarah Phillips.” Collegium for African American Research; April 2001, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy.

Research Interests

  • African American Literature
  • Cultural Studies
  • American Theater and Performance
  • Gender Studies
  • African American Film



English 243: African American Film

English 353: Studies in an Author: Toni Morrison

English 366: African American Literature 1940-present

English 366: Literature and the African American Middle Class

English 366: African American Autobiography

English 369: African American Literature

Engilsh 385: Rethinking Blackness: Postmodern African American Literature

English 447: The Historical Imagination: The Harlem Renaissance


English 582: Studies in an Author: Toni Morrison

English 685: African American Literary and Cultural Criticism

English 701: Theorizing Blackness

Theatrical Productions

Excerpts from Underground and other plays. Staged reading. Directed by Colman Domingo. New York State Writers Institute's Author's Theatre, Albany, New York. February 5, 2007.

Single Black Female. Off-Broadway premiere. Produced by the New Professional Theatre. Directed by Colman Domingo. The Duke on 42nd Street, New York City. June 10-29, 2008.

Single Black Female. Off-off Broadway premiere. Produced by the New Professional Theatre. Directed by Colman Domingo. Peter Jay Sharpe Theatre, New York City. June 15-June 25, 2006.

Single Black Female. Los Angeles premiere. Produced by the Cassandra Project. Directed by Colman Domingo, Flight Theatre at the Complex, Hollywood, California. March 26-April 18, 2004. Nominated for 2005 LA Weekly Theater Award for Best Comedy Playwriting.

Single Black Female. World premiere. Directed by Colman Domingo. Theater Rhinoceros, San Francisco, California. March 10-April 10, 1999.

Single Black Female.Staged reading. Directed by Arturo Catricala. Festival of New Plays, BRAVA! Theatre for Women in the Arts, San Francisco, California. January 28, 1998.

Monroe. Staged reading. Directed by Cherríe Moraga. BRAVA! Theatre for Women in the Arts, San Francisco, California. June 12, 1997.

Watermelon. World premiere. Co-written and directed by Maurice Lee. New Langston Arts, San Francisco, California. August 22-31 1997.

Dreadtime Stories: One Sista’s Hair. Inner City Cultural Center Talent Festival Finalist, Playwright's Division. Directed by E. Fatima Washington. Ivar Theater, Hollywood, California. August 1993.


Lisa B. Thompson teaches courses on African American literature and culture. The San Francisco native has received fellowships from the University of California Office of the President, UCLA's Center for African American Studies, Stanford University's Institute for Research on Women & Gender, the Five Colleges, and Stanford University's Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Her research interests include contemporary African American literature, performance, feminist theory and cultural studies. Thompson has published in Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey and edited anthologies. She is currently writing a book about representations of black middle class women and sexuality.

Single Black Female

Thompson's play, Single Black Female, a two-woman show with rapid-fire comic vignettes that explore the lives of thirty-something African American middle class women in urban America as they search for love, clothes and dignity in a world that fails to recognize them among a parade of stereotypical images enjoyed its off-off Broadway debut in June 2006 at the Peter J. Sharpe Theater produced by the New Professional Theatre. The New York Times described the production as “a socially significant and very entertaining . . . show that manages to be simultaneously self-deprecating and proud.” In 2005 Single Black Female was nominated for a LA Weekly Theatre Award for best comedy. About the 2004 production The Los Angeles Times raved, “Thompson stands her stereotypes on their heads, to apt and funny effect. These right-on feminist sisters want equal rights and equal pay, but they also yearn for steamy romance and Jimmy Choo shoes, not necessarily in that order” and the LA Weekly proclaimed Single Black Female “a bracing, funny, bittersweet . . . show that is both bigger than life and wondrously small, with plenty of notes in between.” When it had its world premiere at Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco in March 1999 The San Francisco Examiner called Single Black Female “a testament to Thompson's sharp wit.”

The author of Monroe—which enjoyed a staged reading in 1998 directed by Cherrie Moraga at San Francisco's Brava Theatre for Women in the Arts—and the one woman comedic performance piece, Dreadtime Stories: One Sista’s Hair—a 1994 finalist in the Inner City Cultural Center's Talent Fest—continues to write theatre that broadens representations of African Americans. In February 2007 the New York State Writer’s Institute Author’s Theatre held a stage reading of excerpts from Thompson new play, Underground, an examination of slavery’s lingering impact on African-Americans in the twenty-first century. In addition, Lisa B. Thompson, who has performed her poetry throughout California in venues such as the World Stage and UCLA’s Center for African American Studies is anthologized in Catch the Fire: A Cross-Generational Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry.