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Call for Submissions: Early Modern Black Studies: A Critical Anthology

November 16, 2015

We are seeking submissions for a collection of essays tentatively titled Early Modern Black Studies: A Critical Anthology. Inspired by and modeled after interdisciplinary studies such as Black Queer Studies and Shakesqueer: A Companion to the Works of Shakespeare, this edited volume stages a conversation between two fields—Early Modern Studies and Black Studies—that traditionally have had little to say to each other. This disconnect is the product of current scholarly assumptions about a lack of archival evidence that limits what we can say about those of African descent in earlier historical periods. This proposed volume posits that the limitations are not in the archives but in the methods we have constructed for locating and examining those archives. Our collection, then, seeks to establish productive and provocative conversations about these two seemingly disparate fields. Our goal is to enlist the strategies, methodologies, and insights of Black Studies into the service of Early Modern Studies and vice versa. Ultimately, the overarching scholarly contribution of this critical anthology is to revise current understandings about racial discourse and the cultural contributions of black Africans in early modernity across the globe.

The editors of Early Modern Black Studies seek essays that offer new critical approaches to representations of black Africans and the conceptualization of Blackness in early modern literary works, historical documents, and/or material and visual cultures. We also seek articles that, on the one hand, mobilize corrective interventions to commonly held notions in each of the aforementioned fields and, on the other hand, theorize a synthetic methodology for the Early Modern/Black Studies discursive divide.

Possible paper topics include but are not limited to:

• Black Studies as method and inquiry
• The racial contours of early modern studies methods
• Comparative analysis of Black Studies and Early Modern Studies archives
• Methodologies of Black Africans and Exploration of the Americas
• Imperialism and Colonization
• African slavery across the Sahara and Ocean Studies (Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific)
• Re-conceptualizations of Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic in the 21st century
• Black Lives Matter in contemporary and historical contexts
• Medieval understandings of human difference
• Representations of Africa as a geopolitical and imaginary space, past and present
• Gender and Sexuality; Black Feminists Studies and Early Modernity; the figure of the mulatta
• Queer Studies; the queering of Black Studies and Early Modern Studies
• Critical Race Studies and Early Modernity; Animal Studies and Biopolitics vis-à-vis representations of Blackness

Please send queries and/or an abstract (250-500 words) to,, and by January 31, 2016. The deadline for 5000-7000 word essays from accepted abstracts will be August 15, 2016.

CFP: Chapter needed for volume on dead mothers in the cultural imagination (9/15/15)

September 1, 2015

Call for a chapter to fill a gap in an edited collection entitled Missing, Presumed Dead: the Absent Mother in the Cultural Imagination.

The dead or absent mother is a recurring feature in Western cultural productions, from Greek myths through folktales, Shakespeare and Dickens to contemporary literature such as Miriam Toew’s A Complicated Kindness (2004), television, and films such as Finding Nemo (2003) and The Road (2009). The mother might be dead at the outset, or die during the narrative. Her death might be a disaster, propelling the child into danger; a blessing, saving the child from an abusive or inappropriate parent and making way for a more suitable guardian; or of no consequence.This volume aims to explore the many functions and meanings of the trope of the absent mother, both as products of the time and culture that produced the narratives, and as part of an ongoing cultural conversation that spans the centuries. Are the narratives a response to high numbers of maternal death in childbirth in the Middle Ages, to changes to the early modern family structure, to increased divorce rates after World War II? What concerns are articulated in the narratives and what messages are communicated? What lessons, if any, are they supposed to teach?

I already have strong chapters ranging from the 18th century to the present day, analysing folk tales, novels, children’s literature, photography, film and television. To complement those, I am looking for chapters discussing literature from before 1700.

Palgrave Macmillan have shown an interest, which I would like to capitalize on. Deadline for submission of abstract is thus 15 September 2015.

Chapters should be ca 7 000 words, including notes and references. Deadline for submission of entire chapter 1 February 2016.Please send an abstract of 300 words and a 50 word bio to

Source: Chapter needed for volume on dead mothers in the cultural imagination |

CFP: Shakespeare And Our Times Conference (9/15/15; 4/14-16/16)

September 1, 2015



An interdisciplinary, international conference on the significance of Shakespeare in the early twenty-first century Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA. April 14-16, 2016

Plenary speakers: Jonathan Dollimore, Ania Loomba, and Leah Marcus

What does William Shakespeare mean to us today, and what traces of his thinking can still be seen in our lives? In the context of a week-long, multi-faceted investigation of Shakespeare’s continued presence in our cultural landscape, this three-day conference will probe contemporary manifestations of the Bard. To mark the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death we will seek his footprint as we question the legacy of the early colonial mindset in the twenty-first century. Why does this figure among all others endure so persistently? At stake are questions of global imperialism and how it intersects with race, ethnicity, gender, and Shakespeare’s extended influence in what were, for him, newly-emerging colonial locales. How, then, is Shakespeare performed, translated, analyzed today? Abstracts and panel proposals welcome on these and other topics: Shakespeare and Popular Culture Gender/Sexuality in Shakespeare Shakespeare and the Idea of the Posthuman Shakespeare’s Cities Shakespeare and International Relations Shakespeare and the Sciences Why Shakespeare? Shakespeare for Whom? Shakespeare and Disaster Management Shakespeare and Contemporary Censorship Translating Shakespeare The Rhetoric of Shakespeare Shakespeare and America, Shakespeare in America Shakespeare’s Music Staging Shakespeare, Filming Shakespeare, Now Shakespeare and Language Theorizing Shakespeare in the Twenty-First century Event website:…

250-word abstracts for individual 20-minute papers, or 3-paper panel sessions can be submitted online at by August 15, 2015.

* Advanced graduate students welcome to apply.

*NEW DEADLINE: September 15, 2015

Inquiries about the conference can be sent to: Dr. Imtiaz Habib, Dr. Liz Black, Dr. Delores Phillips, Dr. Drew Lopenzina

Source: Shakespeare And Our Times Conference |

Reflections on our ATW Workshop: Sex and Marriage: Then and Now

July 9, 2015

Workshop Description

Taking “Taxonomies of Time” as its primary theme, this workshop will explore the similarities and differences between the topics of gender, sexuality, and marriage in the early modern and modern worlds. In particular, the workshop will focus on the regulation and representation of female bodies in relationship to marriage. We are interested in looking at the early modern period alongside our own as well as how ideas about women’s bodies compare when outside of marriage (before and after) or within marriage. Workshop participants will put excerpts from early modern texts, including The Duchess of Malfi, in conversation with relevant current events, including the heated public debates over same-sex marriage and birth control. Our hope is that workshop discussion will encourage participants to think comparatively about issues of sex and marriage across time and across the boundaries of the institution itself (before, during, and after marriage).

Workshop Texts

Liptak, Adam. “Justices Rule in Favor of Hobby Lobby.” The New York Times 30 June 2014. (4 pages)

—. “Supreme Court to Decide Marriage Rights for Gay Couples Nationwide.” The New York Times 16 Jan. 2015. (4 pages)

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet (Act 3, scene 5) from Greenblatt, Stephen et al., eds. The Norton Shakespeare: Based on the Oxford Edition, 2nd Edition. 2nd edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2008. 949-954.

Webster, John, The Duchess of Malfi  (Act 2) from Greenblatt, Stephen et al., eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. 1475-1488.

Workshop Summary

The three small groups with which we opened the workshop discussed 1. the married female body in The Duchess of Malfi, 2. the pregnant female body in The Duchess of Malfi, and 3. sex and the unmarried female body in Romeo and Juliet.

All three groups discovered that the female body functions as a site of interpretation. When Capulet, for instance, first enters Juliet’s room the morning after she has consummated her secret marriage to Romeo, he immediately tries to read the situation through her body. Bosola similarly spends a good portion of the second act of Duchess trying to understand her body.

In the Romeo and Juliet group, we discussed the possibility that Capulet’s use of the term “greensick carrion” is not as silly as it might at first appear. Perhaps he knows it as a way to get his daughter married in a hurry.

The group discussing the Duchess’s marriage focused on the tension between the demands  that her brothers made and her responses to them. The Duchess defies her brothers’ prohibition against marriage, but the Duchess appears on the surface to agree to fulfill their expectations.  The performance of submission is a kind of ritual in itself, and frequent examples exist of a gap between the language of submission and action. The Duchess’s performance works up until the point that her body reveals her secret marriage; her pregnant body reveals the truth of her secret marriage.

The group discussing the pregnant body discussed the fetishization of the symptoms or clues of pregnancy and the men’s bewilderment about women. The legibility of the Duchess’s pregnant body is contrasted with the legibility of the nativity “birth certificate.” It is the men of the play who reveal the pregnancy to the audience, not the women; the audience, too, must “read” both the text and the body.

We came together to talk about the possibilities for cross-period comparisons. One of the questions that seems to be relevant to both the early modern texts and our current-day debates is “Who gets to decide?” A week after our workshop, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in Obergfell v. Hodges, arguing that the “Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.” ( The opposition to same-sex marriage continues, and one of its arguments is that the Supreme Court does not have the right to decide this (see, for example, Ken Paxton’s opinion letter to Dan Patrick

Katie Kalpin Smith, Sara Keeth, and Jessica C. Murphy

CFP: Multi-author essay collection Art and the Verdant Earth: The Green Worlds of the Renaissance and the Baroque (8/15/15)

June 23, 2015

From Karen Goodchild, Chair Department of Art and Art History, Wofford College:

Call for contributions to a multi-author essay collection

Art and the Verdant Earth: The Green Worlds of the Renaissance and the Baroque

The green mantle of the earth! This age-old metaphor casts the greening of the earth as a divine marvel while also calling upon poets and artists to re-fashion the greenness of nature into art. Ecological writers like Rachel Carson and E. O. Wilson used the expression as a poetic figure for the terrestrial vegetation we take for granted. The topic of Art and the Verdant Earth is the representation of vegetation in the art of the Old Masters. Its ambition is to reveal the visual poetics underpinning the pictorial expression of greenery in images that are traditionally called landscapes.

We invite essays on the visual poetics of a verdant earth. How did artists in Early Modern Europe compete with poets (and Nature) in the fashioning of natural imagery? How did they manage/ manipulate the infinitude of irregularities that is nature’s way? What can be said of the many types of landscape painting (pastoral, sylvan, rural, wilderness, or even river views, clearings, and distressing wastelands) in light of a poetics of vegetation, and in light of the realities of land use? Artists, we believe, followed a kind of lyrical naturalism, which turns the phenomena of nature into the common themes and recurrent motifs of visual poetry. It also links the inexhaustible treasures of the natural world to the poets whose epithets for green matter served as precepts that directed artists in the discovery of just those traits – be it the obdurancy of an oak or the pliancy of a willow- that turn vegetation into eloquent depiction.

This collection of essays is being seriously considered by Ashgate Publishing. Edited by Karen Hope Goodchild, April Oettinger and Leopoldine Prosperetti, it will draw from art history, literature, gender studies, emblem studies, environmental studies, natural philosophy, natural theology, and botany to treat ideas of verdancy and vegetation in the Renaissance. Topics might include:

  • the technical problem of unstable pigments and the difficulty of achieving a durable color green
  • From Giorgio Vasari and Karel van Mander to Goethe: theoretical perspectives on greenery in art
  • The Renaissance print and the dissemination of vegetal imagery
  • Theologies of greenery: the vegetative argument in theology and philosophy
  • the role of vegetation in the painted landscape
  • the authority of poetry in natural imagery: from Virgil to Goethe
  • No Tree, No Pastoral. Trees and pastoral scenery
  • Women, Luxuria and the color green: vegetative imagery and gender
  • masters of vegetal imagery in the European canon
  • sylvan moments in European art
  • historically envisioning greenery and modern environmentalism

Finally, we welcome articles that address the very topical question, “Was the Renaissance green?”

Art and the Verdant Earth: The Green Worlds of the Renaissance and the Baroque will be an illustrated volume, with individual contributors responsible for any permission and/or art acquisition fees. Final essays, of approximately 8,000 words (incl. notes), and all accompanying b&w illustrations/permissions will be due in spring 2016. For consideration, please send an abstract (max. 500 words), a preliminary list of illustrations (if applicable), and to a 100-word biography to,, & by August 15. 2015. Acceptance notifications will be emailed by mid-September.

Sex and Marriage: Then and Now (ATW 2015 Workshop #21)

June 9, 2015

Please see for the full program for this year’s ATW. Our workshop’s reading has some unreadable pages in it. Please see Sex and Marriage Then and Now Readings for the readings.

The questions that will be guiding our discussion are:

1. What can we deduce from examining the connection between the morning after in Romeo and Juliet and the specific early modern disease of virgins, greensickness?

2. What happens in early modern literature when women, such as the Duchess, do not follow the expected rituals, taking their marriages—and thus their bodies—into their own hands?

3. In what ways does the Duchess respond to her society’s expectations and restrictions? How does she respond to the consequences?

4. How is the pregnant female body portrayed in The Duchess of Malfi? How do other early modern texts treat motherhood and/or pregnancy?

5. What other examples of depictions/discussions/representations of irregular unions from the early modern era can you identify from your own field/background? How do they compare or contrast with these examples here?

6. One thing these texts are all interested in is debating who gets to decide. In what ways are these questions the same across time? In what ways are they different?

7. Do we see today a similar desire to control women’s bodies and sexuality? Compare and contrast our contemporary situation, with specific attention to issues of marriage and birth control, to the early modern period. What can the early modern period teach us about our contemporary situation? How might this discussion be applied to how we live/behave/teach/research now? How can we put what we have learned to work in the classroom?

CFP: Broadside Ballads (6/5/15; 3/31-4/2/16)

May 29, 2015

The 62nd Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America

Boston, 31 March–2 April 2016

We invite paper proposals for a panel on English Broadside Ballads (1500-1800).  In particular, we are interested in new approaches to the ballad culture of the early modern period.

Please email a 150-word abstract to and by June 5th for consideration.
Please see for more information about the conference.


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