Penn Students Remove Shakespeare Portrait in English Dept., Replace With Photo of Lesbian Poet

William Shakespeare / Wikimedia Commons


Students at the University of Pennsylvania recently swapped out a portrait of William Shakespeare for a photo of an African American lesbian poet in an effort to diversify the school's English department.

Shakespeare's picture had hung over the main staircase in Penn's Fisher-Bennett Hall for years when students took it down after an English department town hall meeting discussing the 2016 presidential election, the Daily Pennsylvanian reported Monday. In place of the legendary playwright, students tacked up a photo of Audre Lorde.

English department head Jed Etsy said the Shakespeare portrait will not be rehung.

"Students removed the Shakespeare portrait and delivered it to my office as a way of affirming their commitment to a more inclusive mission for the English department," Etsy told the Daily Pennsylvanian.

It is unclear whether the photo of Lorde, a feminist and civil rights activist, will remain in Fisher-Bennett Hall.

Natalie Johnson

Natalie Johnson   Email Natalie | Full Bio | RSS
Natalie Johnson is a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, she was a news reporter at the Daily Signal. Johnson’s work has been featured in outlets such as Newsweek, Fox News and Drudge Report. She graduated from James Madison University in 2015 with a B.A. in political science and journalism. She can be reached at Her twitter handle is @nataliejohnsonn.

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