540WMain Receives Grant to Pilot First College Course in Collaboration with St. John Fisher English Professor

540WMain is excited to partner with St. John Fisher College English Professor Deborah Uman for its first sequential college course. 

540WMain is excited to partner with St. John Fisher College English Professor Deborah Uman for its first college course. This new course is titled Exploring Race in Othello: Past and Present and is funded in part by a grant received from Humanities NY.  

Exploring Race in Othello: Past and Present

Through a discussion series with six sessions, community members will read Shakespeare’s famous play, Othello, examining the play for its themes of love and jealousy and as a potential origin tale of European racism and discrimination.  Participants will discuss what Othello means to us today and read it alongside recent adaptations including Toni Morrison’s performance piece, Desdemona, and the 2001 film O set in an American private high school. This course will be co-taught by Deborah Uman and Amanda Chestnut and runs weekly every Thursday beginning April 30th and ending June 4th, 2020

Key features
  • Free to community members
  • This is a college level
  • Weekly sessions
  • Participants should only register if they intend to attend all six weekly sessions
  • Course takes place at Douglass Auditorium at 36 King Street

This course serves as a pilot for THE CLEMENTE COURSE IN THE HUMANITIES ®, INC. and our long term goal is to bring this program to 540WMain.

About The Clemente Course

THE CLEMENTE COURSE IN THE HUMANITIES ®, INC. inspires and equips motivated, low-income adults to take charge of their lives. Our year-long program activates students’ intelligence, fosters the skills to make informed decisions, and kindles the self-confidence to act upon them. Clemente uses the transformative experience of the humanities to spark a productive change in its students. All Clemente students have faced significant barriers to their education. Without tried and tested critical skills, they risk being trapped at the bottom of the economic ladder. Through Clemente, students envision new horizons and greater goals.

About Deborah Uman

Dr. Deborah Uman is Professor and Chair of the Department of English and Program Director of Film and Television Studies at St. John Fisher College. Her areas of specialization include literature of the English Renaissance by writers such as William Shakespeare, John Milton, and Aphra Behn. Dr. Uman asks students to consider why these works still matter. Students in her Shakespeare classes read Young Adult novels and comic book versions alongside the plays themselves and adapt Shakespeare’s works into their own films, poems and stories. Other teaching interests include postcolonial literature and sustainability.

About Amanda Chestnut


Amanda Chestnut’s work focuses on the representation of history – and in particular, how the history of race and gender impacts modern narratives. Her work has been exhibited in Rochester at Firehouse Gallery, Joe Brown Gallery, University of Rochester, and High Falls Art Gallery at the Center at High Falls. She was formerly a resident at the Center for Photography at Woodstock. Chestnut holds an MFA from Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY.

540WMain will celebrate its 4 year anniversary with a party and extravaganza on Saturday June 13, 2020. In just four years the organization has become a pillar in the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood and a convener and curator of important and vital community conversations, classes, and programs. Your financial support helps us scale up this work in 2020 and beyond with a year long fundraising goal of $40,000

Published by Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a non-profit online and community-based organization for accessible education and events that promote justice for all.

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