On October 27, the Department of Anthropology hosted a fabulous and refreshing discussion with playwright extraordinaire and alumnus Branden Jacobs-Jenkins ’06. The discussion was led by Dean Jill Dolan, Dean of the College, Annan Professor in English and Professor of Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts, and by Professor João Biehl, Susan Dod Brown Professor and Chair of Anthropology.
The event “Playwriting with Anthropology” was the highlight of our fall series marking the celebration of the Department of Anthropology’s 50th anniversary.
As a Princeton student, Jacobs-Jenkins investigated the relationship between American theatrical forms and the question of blackness in society, through writing and production of the phenomenal senior thesis, (titled Heart!!!). Today our juniors and seniors continue to push us to reckon with Anthropology’s origins and entanglements in colonialism, racism, and environmental injustice, and to rethink our disciplinary bequest, research foci, and public roles.
Jacobs-Jenkins received his bachelor's degree in Anthropology in 2006, creatively crossing boundaries between the social sciences and the arts. Jacobs-Jenkins earned an M.A. from NYU and worked for several years at The New Yorker’s fiction department. He is also a graduate of the American Playwrights Program at Juilliard. After being an artist-in-residence at Hunter College and working in the playwriting program at UT Austin, Jacobs-Jenkins recently took up the position of Professor in the Practice of Theater and Performance Studies at Yale. He won the 2014 Obie Award for Best New American Play for his plays Appropriate and An Octoroon. His plays Gloria and Everybody were finalists for the 2016 and 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2016.