Presidential Pathways Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, Virginia Tech
My research strives to intermingle my backgrounds in theatre, art, and education with a particular focus on the triumphs and struggles of Black women, theatrical or otherwise. I primarily implement critical race and Black feminist theories to focus on contemporary African American theatre, specifically social exclusion, representation, and racial violence which has been featured in theatre, education, history, and Black studies journals as well as presented at national and international conferences of related disciplines. My current work analyzes the mammy, mulatta, and mistress stereotypes of Black women as articulated and challenged in contemporary U.S. plays, television shows, and films. For more details, see my CV in "Interests."
As a postdoctoral fellow, I instruct and develop courses that implement the pathways curriculum for general education which champions inclusion and diversity in the U.S.
Thesis: Black Feminine Identity: An Examination of Historical and Contemporary Dramatic Texts through a Critical Race Theory Framework
Advisor: Dr. Amy Lehman
- Grad Teaching Asst, Dept of Theatre & Dance, 2011-13
- Grad Research Asst, Dept of Education- Curriculum Studies, 2012-13
- Grad Research Asst, Dept of Integrated Info Technology, 2012-13
- Academic Mentor/Tutor, Dept of Athletics, 2011
Thesis: Deconstructing Stereotypes and Iconic Representations of the African-American Experience in Three Contemporary Plays
Advisor: Dr. Laura Dougherty
Encouraged middle school aged children to pursue and be active in learning and furthering their education. Especially concerned with implementing IRC- Integrated Reading Curriculum to help a demographic that often struggles with literacy. Also, interns supported children's interest in STEM- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields which are not traditionally pursued by people of color. Harambee, a time of sharing and celebration was used to celebrate each other and get everyone excited about education. Additionally, nutritious meals and snacks were provided throughout the day so that the children develop healthy eating habits, and were focused and ready to learn.
Provided a developmentally appropriate preschool program in accordance with all relevant legislation, policies and procedures for 3-5 year olds; planned curriculum with weekly schedules of activities, produced lesson plans and ensured adequate equipment and materials for activities, provided instruction on nutrition, wellness and physical activity; maintained a culturally applicable and safe environment through disciplinary policies and familiarity with emergency procedures.
Resume, Research, and Instruction
African American Theatre & Literature, Black Feminism, Critical Race Theory, Cultural Diversity, Theatre History, Docudrama, Devised Theatre, Theatre of the Oppressed, Theatre for Social Change, Social Justice, Theories of Violence & Oppression, Drama & Theatre in Education
Contemporary African-American Theatre, Virginia Tech University, 2019
Improvisation & Devised Performance (Co-Instructor), Virginia Tech University, 2019
History of Drama & Theatre (Co-Instructor), Virginia Tech University, 2018-19
Script Analysis (Co-Instructor), Virginia Tech University, 2018
Introduction to Theatre for Non-Majors, Hybrid & Online, Florida State University, 2013-2014, 2015-2018
World Theatre History I & II, Florida State University, 2014-2015
Understanding & Appreciation of Theatre, University of South Carolina, 2011-2013
Considering how institutional punishment disproportionately and detrimentally effects Black men, we deem Moonlight a “performance of resistance devised to respond to the highly predictable and anticipated arrival of racial violence within a person’s lifetime” as described by Harvey Young in Embodying Black Experience. Textual and performance analysis form the crux of our filmic exploration which incorporates the intellectual influence of performance studies theorists Harvey Young and Harry Elam, black theatre scholars who consider the implications of Black male representation, particularly in postmodern productions like Moonlight. Essentially, we aim to utilize these theoretical frameworks to explore Moonlight’s form and content and highlight Tarell Alvin McCraney’s efforts to shift Black male representation through the character Chiron.
This study investigates the lives and dramatic works of Harlem Renaissance women who have not have enjoyed due appreciation. I juxtapose Angelina Grimke's Rachel (1916), Zora Neale Hurston's Color Struck (1925), and Georgia Douglas Johnson's Safe (1929) with the ideologies of Black male intellectuals to assess the societal perspectives and aesthetics of the movement. Despite the Harlem Renaissance canon favoring Black men's text, this work considers the contributions of both sexes.
With the inclusion of her autobiographical experiences as a Black woman, Lydia Diamond unapologetically addresses race, class, and gender as reflected in the Black female characters of Stick Fly and Voyeurs de Venus. Both works tackle sexuality and interracial relationships while challenging typical stereotypes such as the mistress, mammy, and angry Black woman with roles like academic professional, author, domestic housekeeper, and enslaved exhibitionist. Ultimately, I combine textual analysis of Stick Fly and Voyeurs de Venus with a critique of popular culture to assess Black female representation in theatre and real life. By utilizing Black feminism from hooks (2002) and Collins (2004) with identity politics discourse of critical race theorist Crenshaw (2013), I determine how Diamond’s work complicates and elevates Black female representation to resemble her version of truth.
In Lemonade, Beyoncé uses her iconic visibility to introduce a powerful and unapologetic vision of Black womanhood to a culture that has historically demanded racial assimilation. As a definitive moment in contemporary culture, the hour-long visual album signals a three-fold reinvention of musical form, artistic evolution, and Black feminine identity. Lemonade transcends genre and blurs cultural boundaries by embracing a linear method of storytelling that elevates typical music video form and function. Further, the work infuses pertinent historical context and engages current social movements related to race and gender.
While stage and screen dramas need flawed characters, negative portrayals of Black women inform the way in which they are perceived in reality. Of the many negative Black female archetypes throughout history, Black feminist scholar, Lisa Anderson, describes the mistress as one of the most common. Critical literacy and critical race theory are additional scholarly structures that help deconstruct news and social media as well as the legal and political policies that enable institutional racism in the United States. I primarily analyze how characters in Voyeurs de Venus, 12 Years A Slave, and Scandal reveal the enduring qualities of the Black mistress stereotype in American culture so that women’s sexuality might evolve into more positive and authentic representation.
One Hundred Years of Hope is a documentary play of transcribed interviews from Black, White, and Latin@ individuals who were ages 18-25 in 1965 at the height of the Civil Rights movement and ages 18-25 in 2015 during the alleged post-racial era. Our primary motivation for the work was to talk about various recurring racial issues in the United States. This work starts the rare, but necessary conversation of openly addressing discrimination that results in tragic hate crimes and police brutality that has inspired the necessary movement and mantra, Black Lives Matter. This essay utilizes the collaborative storytelling in One Hundred Years of Hope to investigate the history of racism through symbolism in the southern United States. Ultimately, my research explores the significance of collecting and analyzing the nuanced experiences of individuals, as well as emphasizes the therapeutic value and social impact that results from sharing personal narrative.
Using Marxist and Critical Race Theory frameworks to call codified culture into question, this essay explores how diverse modes of expression are crushed by the restraint of the individual and through a lack of variance that prohibits progress for Black males in American society. This essay critiques the capitalist structure that insists on the illusion of uniformity when it clearly benefits and operates from emphasizing difference. The article compares the impact of a consumerist frame of reference on career, residence, and material possessions; media technologies' published messages and images that contribute to negative stereotypes; and the formation of style as an act of naming or resisting with regard to the proliferation of questionable and brutal treatment of Black males by law enforcement agents, in particular, and society, in general.
This paper examines the ways in which body, voice, and image are portrayed in contemporary media productions that persist in creating negative identity constructs for Black women. Much of what is consumed by mainstream culture is a skewed, caricatured perception of Black women created by those outside of their demographic. More recent and limited works by and about Black women attempt to dismantle this phenomenon and are moving in the right direction by offering images of empowerment; however these presentations of the Black fem ale experience are still distorted and conventionalized. This essay encourages additional portrayals that affirm and explore a wider array of Black female experiences.
This article, theoretically constructed on Gramsci’s notion of cultural hegemony, explores the use of Black female hair as a cultural signifier in two media texts, specifically Adrienne Kennedy’s play, Funnyhouse of a Negro, and Chris Rock’s documentary, Good Hair, in specific media texts. Analysis of the verbal and visual rhetoric regarding a Black female aesthetic revealed associated themes of generational family influences and identity formation.
Purposeful Production: Race-Conscious Casting and the Ethical Treatment of Documentary Material in One Hundred Years of Hope,” Working Group: “(Em)Bodied Exclusions: Considering Questions of Ethical Representation in Performance,” Atlanta, GA, 2017.
“You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Hoochie Mama: An Analysis of Black Female Mistress Stereotypes.” Orlando, FL, 2017.
Gender, Bodies, and Technology
Mission: Aims to creatively and intellectually explore the multiple, proliferating, and gendered dimensions of technologized bodies and embodied technologies.
Graduate School, Florida State University
Mission: Graduate study at the Florida State University is the right choice for a someone who aspires to make a difference in our World and have a long and distinguished career.
(with Deb Kochman). “Narrating the Future with a Glimpse from the Past: The Collaborative Process of Appreciating Racial Diversity in One Hundred Years of Hope.” Paris, France, 2017.
“Queens and Human Beings, Not Just Bodies: A Comparative Analysis of Black Women in Brazil and the United States.” Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2017.
(with Nicole Dietze). "not your doll: Encouraging Invention in the Midst of Injustice." Cleveland, OH, 2019.
“Black Female Representation: We Have a Problem.” Houston, TX, 2017.
(with Deb Kochman). “One Hundred Years of Hope: A Reflection on the Collaborative Process of Performing Diversity and a Forecast for Its Future.” Minneapolis, MN, 2016.
Sisters of the Academy
(with Laura Waringer). “Making Lemonade: Beyoncé’s Reclamation of Musical Theatre as a Mode of Reinvention.” Song, Stage, and Screen XII, Guildford, UK, 2017.
Visual and Performing Arts Endeavors
Dramaturg, Filmmaker, Performance Artist
Co-Director, History Project Showcase (with Scotty Hardwig), Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, 2019
Co-Director, not your doll by Nicole Dietze, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA, 2018
Director, This Christmas, New Mt. Zion AME Church, Tallahassee, FL, 2017
Group Director, PACE Celebration of Women & Girls, The Moon, Tallahassee, FL, 2016
Director & Editor, Voices Documentary, Florida State University, 2015
Dramaturg, Ragtime, Directed by Fred Chappell, Florida State University, 2014-15
Director & Editor, What is ‘Good Hair?', Florida State University, 2014
Co-Choreographer, “Fine China,” Amateur Drag Show, Club Downunder, Tallahassee, FL, 2014
Director, “Student Responses to Brutality & Bullying,” TO Workshop, Columbia, SC, 2012
Singer, Midnight Cabaret, Winthrop University, 2010
Dancer, Old English Madrigal Feaste, Winthrop University, 2009
Crew, You Can’t Take It with You, Winthrop University, 2009
I have had the privilege of engaging in meaningful independent and collaborative projects including university and community plays, documentary films, choreographed and sung performances.
Nena, The Conduct of Life by Maria Irene Fornes, Winthrop University, 2010
Photography of Artistic & Performance Projects
My Performance Work & Research in Action
"Voices," Short Documentary, 2015
Directed by Devair Jeffries, co-edited with Lodna Azard & Jake Durshimer
"Fearless," Emage Magazine Promotion, 2014
Official promotion piece for online magazine Emage, directed by Imari Anderson.
Wilson-Auzenne Graduate Fellowship, 2013-18
COGS Conference Presentation Support Grant, 2017
PEO International Scholars Award Nominee, 2016-17
Full Frame Documentary Film Fellowship, 2015
Young Woman of Achievement Nominee, 2011
Academic, Community, and Creative Service Projects
See resume for further details and additional involvement.
Virginia Tech, 150th Anniversary Project Showcase, 2019
Director, Performance, Transcriber/Playwright, Committee Member
A university wide interdisciplinary collaboration in preparation for Virginia Tech's 150th Anniversary Celebration in 2022. This project called Voices in Stone, included a 2019 preliminary showcase of departmental projects. As representatives of the Theatre & Cinema department, Scotty Hardwig and I facilitated a site-specific performance that included a choreographed processional to "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round" and docudrama excerpts from early African American students which I transcribed from the English department's VT Stories oral history project organized by Katy Powell.
VHSL, Virginia High School League
Theatre Sub-Sectionals One-Act Competition, 2018
Served as one of three academic judges evaluating the one-act performances of four high schools to place and advance to the next level of regional competition.
Winthrop University Chapter, 2010-11
Member, Teacher Intern
In partnership with nutrition and physical wellness initiative at Winthrop University and the Rock Hill community. In addition to my internship at Rock Hill Headstart, I participated in community service projects in the area to encourage wellness at various age levels ranging from preschool aged children to elderly in need of care in nursing facilities.
Visual & Performing Arts
Theatre Performance & Studies (Advanced-Expert)
Studio Art & Photography (Intermediate)
Voice & Music (Proficient)
English, Native US American (Fluent)
French (Comprehension, Translation, Basic Conversation)
"Ms. Jeffries is one of the most intelligent, organized, and motivated students I have ever worked with. She has a solid intellectual background, and the ability and drive to achieve whatever she sets her mind to... Ms. Jeffries has genuine potential as a scholar. She is imaginative, curious, and committed to getting the details right.
Ms. Jeffries is very pleasant to work with, and treats everyone around her with unfailing courtesy... Ms. Jeffries is thoughtful, patient, and has a healthy sense of humor. I recommend her most highly and without reservation."
"During her time as a master’s student, Ms. Jeffries distinguished herself as an engaged and dedicated intellectual who was on an exciting mission to engage communities through theatre.
She will be an enormous asset to any institution which is lucky enough to hire her... I have no doubt that Ms. Jeffries will make significant impacts on the life and scholarship of any university.
Because of her scholarship, intellect, rigor and determination, I offer Devair Jeffries my highest recommendation."
"I was more than impressed with Ms. Jeffries’ work ethic, commitment, and overall level of competency as I watched her engage with the scholars (students), parents, community members and her peers... She proved to be a mature young woman who is intelligent, goal-oriented, and highly committed.
Ms. Jeffries fully understands the meaning of teamwork, and not only works well with others, but she also works to build up the strengths of others."
Many of the stock images featured on this page are not mine. I seek no profit from their use and they are included herein only for the purposes of relevance and illustration.