Riley, Shannon Rose

Shannon Rose Riley

Department Chair of Humanities
Associate Professor of Humanities
Coordinator, Creative Arts Program





Preferred: (408) 924-1365

Alternate: (408) 924-4481 (Creative Arts general number)

Office Hours

The Dept of Humanities Office is open M-F, 9-4:30; my advising hours are Tuesday afternoons and by appointment


  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Performance Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, University of California, Davis, 2006
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Studio Art and Critical Theory, School of The Museum of Fine Arts & Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, 1998
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Sculpture, with a minor in Art History, Maine College of Art, Portland, Maine, 1995


Shannon Rose Riley is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar. She is Associate Professor, Chair of the Department of Humanities, and Coordinator of the Creative Arts Program at San José State University, where she teaches courses in Humanities, Creative Arts, and American Studies and serves as a member of the Academic Senate. She also frequently serves as a dissertation and individual study advisor at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. She has a PhD in Performance Studies and Critical Theory from the University of California, Davis (2006), an MFA in Studio Art (Performance, Video, Installation) from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1998), a BFA in Sculpture and Art History from Maine College of Art (1995), and broad undergraduate training in the arts and humanities at the University of Notre Dame, University of Colorado, Boulder, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Before coming to SJSU in 2008, Dr. Riley was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Women's InterCultural Leadership at Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, where she had joint appointment to the Department of Communication and Performance Studies and the Intercultural Studies Program. From 1998 to 2002, she was the Dean of Students at Maine College of Art in Portland.

Dr. Riley is the author of Performing Race and Erasure: Cuba, Haiti, & US Culture, 1898-1940 (Palgrave 2016), which examines the ways that Cuba and Haiti—both as signs and as sites—were crucial to the imaginative rethinking of race in the US at the turn of the 20th century. Her essays appear in Theatre Topics, English Language Notes, Performing Arts Resources, and Baylor Journal of Theatre and Performance as well as in the edited collections Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances (Palgrave, 2013), Kathy Acker and Transnationalism (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), and Mapping Landscapes for Performance as Research: Scholarly Acts and Creative Cartographies (Palgrave, 2009), which she co-edited with Lynette Hunter. Her book reviews appear in The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (2013) and TDR: The Drama Review (2015).

She is currently completing research for a second book project, Crossing the Windward Passage: Race, Geography, Performance, and Resistance, for which she was awarded a San José State University RSCA Summer Pair Grant for 2012 and a sabbatical in spring 2014. In June 2014, she completed a durational performance in Cuba, Haiti, and the Windward Passage, as part of the performance-as-research methodology for the project. She has presented papers on this work at the 2008 UC Berkeley conference on African and Afro-Caribbean Performance, the 2008 ASTR conference, the Black Geographies Panel at the 2010 Association of American Geographers (AAG) conference, the 2010 American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) conference, the 32nd Festival del Caribe in Santiago de Cuba (July 2012), as part of the roundtable, "Imaginative Ethnography" at the 2014 American Anthropological Association conference, and most recently as part of the roundtable and installation, “Sensing the Moment: Imaginative Intersections of Art and Ethnography, Parts I and II” in collaboration with co-members of the Center for Imaginative Ethnography at the Society for Applied Anthropology (SFAA) conference in Vancouver, BC (2016). In April 2017, she will present a paper titled "Custodians of the Passage: Watery Dreams and Dangerous Crossings" for a session on Guantánamo, Cuba at the XXXV Latin American Studies International Congress.

Professor Riley’s visual and performance works have been exhibited/staged internationally at numerous venues, including the ICA (Portland ME), Mobius (Boston), Randolph Street Gallery and Artemisia Gallery (Chicago), the Cushwa-Leighton Library (Notre Dame IN), Performance Studies International (PSi) in Mainz Germany (2001) and Stanford (2013), the Festival Nacional de Pequeño Formato (Santa Clara Cuba, 2006) and Month of Performance Art-Berlin (2013). She also continues to perform and record with the Chicago-based gospel/noise/performance group, ONO. Recent ONO works include an original soundtrack for a film collaboration with Jesse Malmed, Whirred, Whirled (2015) commissioned by the Chicago Film Archives for the CFA Media Mixer 2015; a multimedia event for E.S.P. TV #76, Live from Chicago, Pt. 1, (begins at 17’13”) E.S.P. TV, Season 5, 2015; original soundtrack material for the 2010 film Alice in Wonderland by James Fotopoulos; and the albums, Albino (Moniker Records, 2012), Diegesis (Moniker Records, 2014), and Spooks (Moniker Records, 2015). Diegesis was ranked #9 of the top ten albums of 2014 by Tiny Grooves "Best of the best of XX14!!" and was listed in the "Best of 2014" by Decoder Magazine.