Wesleyan portrait of Rashida Z. Shaw McMahon

Rashida Z. Shaw McMahon

Assistant Professor of English

116 Mt. Vernon Street, 208

Assistant Professor, African American Studies

1 Vine Street,


BA Wesleyan University
MA Northwestern University
PHD Northwestern University

Rashida Z. Shaw McMahon

Rashida Z. Shaw McMahon is an Assistant Professor in the English Department and an Affiliated Faculty in the African American Studies program at Wesleyan University. Her course offerings and research exemplify interdisciplinary methodologies and collaborative approaches towards examining: the dramatic and performance traditions of African Americans and the larger African Diaspora; American drama; American musical theatre; American and European theatre and performance histories; theatrical spectatorship; dramatic adaptations of poetry, novels, and historical fiction; and, the application of critical race theories, gender theories, sexuality theories, and popular culture theories to drama and performance. Her forthcoming book, The Black Circuit: Race, Performance, and Spectatorship in Black Popular Theatre, examines “Chitlin Circuit” theatrical productions and the reception practices of African American spectators. Professor Shaw McMahon’s scholarship has appeared in various print and online journals, such as E-misfèrica, in media res: a media commons project, Theatre Survey, Theatre Topics, and Theatre Research International as well as in edited anthologies on race, performance, and musical theatre, including The Palgrave Handbook of Musical Theatre Producers (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry (The University Press of Mississippi, 2016), Black Theater is Black Life: An Oral History of Theater and Dance in Chicago, 1970-2010 (Northwestern University Press, 2013), and Sticky Reputations: The Politics of Collective Memory in Midcentury America (Routledge, 2011). Her interviews with playwrights and actors of “Chitlin Circuit” Theatre have been published by Time Out Chicago magazine. She has been consulted as an expert in African American theatre and drama by journalists from the Kansas City Star and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Professor Shaw McMahon is originally from the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She is a Wesleyan alumna, class of '99, who majored in Theater (with a concentratrion in Acting) and Sociology. Her Wesleyan honors BA thesis in Theater is entitled Color Aware enough to be Color-blind: A look at Color-blind Casting from the Perspective of the Black Actor. After Wesleyan, she attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where she received her Ph.D. in Theatre and Drama. Her dissertation, entitled Theatrical Events and African American Audiences: A Study of Contemporary "Chitlin Circuit" Theatre, examines Chitlin Circuit (a.k.a. Gospel Musical) theatrical productions and the reception practices of African American spectators through interdisciplinary methods of research that span across theatre, performance studies, sociology, film and dance studies. She is a member of the American Society of Theatre Research (ASTR), the Association of Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), the Black Theatre Association (BTA), and the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR). Most recently, she was awarded the 2016 Mellon Mays Mentor of the Year Award at Wesleyan. 

Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

On Leave during Spring 2018: No Office Hours.


Fall 2018
ENGL 281 - 01
Award-Winning Playwrights

ENGL 385 - 01
African American Theater