Riley, Shannon Rose

Shannon Rose Riley

Professor and Chair, Humanities Department
Coordinator, Creative Arts Program
Associate Vice Chair, Academic Senate (2017-18; 2018-19)





Preferred: (408) 924-1365

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

Office Hours

The Dept of Humanities Office is open M-F, 9:00-5:00; 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 Professor and Chair of the Humanities Department and Coordinator of the Creative Arts Program at San José State University, where she teaches courses in Humanities, Creative Arts, and American Studies. Professor Riley 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). She completed a BFA in Sculpture and Art History from Maine College of Art (1995), and pursued a 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, 2nd edition 2014), 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).

Riley's most recent publication is a work of creative non-fiction titled, "Loving a Hornworm in End Times," which appears in the Spring 2020 issue of Catamaran Literary Reader (Vol. 8, Iss. 1). She is currently working on more short non-fiction and a longer piece of fiction related to her recent research in Cuba and Haiti.

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), Mainz Germany (2001), Stanford (2013), the Festival Nacional de Pequeño Formato (Santa Clara Cuba, 2006), and Month of Performance Art-Berlin (2013).

Since 1980, Riley has been a core member of the Chicago-based gospel/noise/performance group, ONO. Recent ONO works include 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; Dan Deacon lists Spooks as one of his top 10 album picks for 2015. On January 30, 2020, the Chicago Reader published a list of the top Chicago albums of the previous decade. ONO’s 2012 album, Albino, tied for #42 with several other bands and the 2015 album, Spooks, was ranked #13. The list includes artists such as Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, and Ministry, among others. ONO’s new album, Red Summer, has just  released on American Dreams Records (Chicago). ONO will celebrate the new album and its 40th anniversary performance in Chicago at the Empty Bottle on May 1, 2020. In 2017, Riley and core ONO-mates, travis and P.Michael Grego, presented a co-authored paper as part of the "Listening to the Sonic Subaltern" working session at the 2017 American Society of Theatre Research (ASTR) conference in Atlanta. That piece is under consideration for a special issue of Performance Matters.

From the Chicago Reader article:

"In 1983 the Reader called Ono "Chicago's best-kept secret." Here we are, nearly four decades later, still blessed more than we deserve. What is this blessing? Fearless avant-garde art that demands our surrender, nothing less. Ono drag us into the darkest conflicts of American history, but if you stay with them—and the grooving basslines ensure you will—they speak to our willingness to be called. There's nothing like a live Ono performance, but Spooks is a grand offering, recorded by two bands playing at once in counterpoint. The album is cinematic in its narrative construction, which gives shape to furious noise that sounds the emotional arc of characters voiced by poet-performer Travis, who spits, sasses, and bellows powerful, terrible words. Each listen unearths a new story arc, a new deviant sound, a new foundation beneath its noise, like sweeping a dirt floor. ‘You will never cover dirt!’” -Sasha Tycko