by Mira Assaf Kafantaris
“I believe in the world and I want to be in it. I want to be in it all the way to the end of it because I believe in another world and I want to be in that.” — Fred Moten
When Brandi Adams invited me to reflect on Things of Darkness, I pondered the moment I became aware of the epistemologies of whiteness that dictated how I saw and narrated the world. …
by Ambereen Dadabhoy
The Modern Language Association’s annual meeting in January 2020 featured several panels on race in the premodern period and in Shakespeare Studies in particular. As a scholar of race who had been attending these meetings for almost a decade, this was an unusual occurrence. In the past, it had been quite normal to hear one person on a panel give a talk on race or maybe one panel featuring race but treating race more as a metaphor than a system of embodied and asymmetrical relations of power rooted in shoring up the construction of whiteness and non-whiteness.
by Brandi K. Adams
This collection of essays confirms and celebrates the foundational, wide-ranging scholarship of Kim F. Hall while honoring the twenty-fifth anniversary of her groundbreaking book Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England. Together, Vanessa I. Corredera, Ambereen Dadabhoy, Miles P. Grier, Mira Assaf Kafantaris, and Debapriya Sarkar have created a public-facing version of the academic Festschrift — writings that acknowledge and celebrate a scholar at a momentous time in her career.
Presented here is only a partial catalogue of the myriad ways that Hall’s research on the intersections of race, gender, travel…
by Debapriya Sarkar
I sit with Kim F. Hall’s Things of Darkness as I conduct research on a project on early modern islands and shores. I have been contemplating how Lady Mary Wroth’s romance, The Countesse of Mountgomeries Urania (1621), spans islands in the Mediterranean to create its international geopolitical network. Drawing on cartographic representations such as the frontispiece map in George Sandys’s A Relation of a Journey (1615), Wroth’s massive corpus intertwines accounts of maritime disasters, shipwrecks, and unexpected landings on islandic shores with discourses of travel and empire.
by Miles P. Grier
In her 1995 monograph Things of Darkness, Kim F. Hall threw open the archive doors, exposing dark foils, evocative Africanist figures against which British national identity could emerge in its classed, gendered, and ethnic varieties. As she later recounted in her essay “Othello and the Problem of Blackness,” gaining access to this archive can seem like running a gauntlet of cultural sentinels, from credentialed scholars who conduct peer review to lay people who take up a deputy’s duties.
Here is her recollection of a conversation with a customs agent at Heathrow airport:
“What brings you to…
by Vanessa I. Corredera
I have a distinct recollection of sitting in my interdisciplinary science class in college, learning about Thomas Kuhn’s concept of the paradigm shift and wondering “What would it look and feel like to experience that kind of ground shifting transformation?” Kim F. Hall’s Things of Darkness ushered in precisely this type of paradigm shift in early modern studies — a response to the supposed “problem” of locating race in early modernity and a rigorous analysis of the textual and cultural “anomalies” challenging this erasure. …
by Whitney Sperrazza
According to her tombstone, Elizabeth Lucar was an exceptional maker. This sixteenth-century woman, who died at the age of twenty-seven, was memorialized in lines that praised the many skills of her busy hands:
She wrote all needle-works that women exercise
With pen, frame, or stools, all pictures artificial.
Curious knots, or trailer, what fancies could devise,
Beasts, birds, or flowers, even as things natural:
Three manner hands could she write them faire all.
To speak of algorisme, or accounts in every fashion,
Of women, few like (I think) in all this nation.
Lucar’s hands, this epitaph tells…
by Patricia Akhimie
Editor’s Note: The companion piece on funding and research is available here.
Right now, with two small kids at home, I have an unpredictable schedule (understatement of the year). Until quite recently, I had not spoken to a person on the phone during daylight hours in months because I could not be reached while actively parenting and when I did try to talk on the phone my daughter considered it an act of outright betrayal punishable by immediate screaming. …
by Patricia Akhimie
Editor’s Note: The companion piece on teaching in the pandemic is available here.
“A researcher requests support for caregiving while researching or writing.” I had to read this line more than once to believe it was real. It was listed, quite casually, along with other more familiar research-related expenses for the Folger Shakespeare Library fellowship — things like travel and time off from teaching — hidden amongst them as if to suggest that it weren’t an earth-shatteringly unusual sight, like a little green Martian in a shiny, silver saucer.
Perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve gone…
by Ian Frederick Moulton
A scene from an ancient poem: A wealthy woman named Laecania comes to the public baths with a slave who — unlike other male bathers — wears a black leather “strap” around his loins. Why?
A Latin commentary published in fifteenth century Italy explains: The strap tied around the slave’s genitals is designed to keep him from getting an erection, so that he will be sexually available if Laecania wants to have sex with him later. The commentary goes on to explain that the poet and his slave do not cover their genitals in the baths…
ACMRS is a research center housed at Arizona State University. We support inclusive, accessible, and forward-looking scholarship in premodern studies.