Noémie Ndiaye: "Scripts of Blackness"
Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Open to the Public
Presented in collaboration with the Society for the Study of Women in the Renaissance (SSWR)
Noémie Ndiaye presents her monograph, Scripts of Blackness: Early Modern Performance Culture and the Making of Race (Penn Press 2022), which shows how the early modern mass media of theatre and performance culture at large helped turn blackness into a racial category. The book explores within a comparative and transnational framework the techniques of impersonation used by white performers to represent Afro-diasporic people in England, France, and Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It reconstructs three specific performance techniques—black-up (cosmetic blackness), blackspeak (acoustic blackness), and black dances (kinetic blackness)—, in order to map out the poetics of those techniques by tracking a number of metaphorical strains that early modern play texts regularly associated with them. Those metaphorical strains, the titular scripts of blackness of this book, operated across national borders and constituted resources, as they provided spectators and participants with new ways of thinking about the Afro-diasporic people who lived or could/would ultimately live in their midst. In this talk, Ndiaye focuses on some of the scripts of blackness that were specifically attached to Black female characters, in an attempt to grasp, through the lens of gender dynamics, the stories that Western Europeans told themselves through performative blackness, and the effects of those fictions on early modern Afro-diasporic subjects.
About the Speaker
Noémie Ndiaye is the Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Assistant Professor of Renaissance and Early Modern English Literature at the University of Chicago. She works on early modern English, French, and Spanish theater with a critical focus on race. Her monograph Scripts of Blackness: Early Modern Performance Culture and the Making of Race (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022) shows how performance culture helped strategically turn blackness into a racial category across early modern Western Europe. She has published articles in Shakespeare Quarterly, Renaissance Quarterly, Renaissance Drama, Early Theatre, English Literary Renaissance, Literature Compass, Thaêtre, and in various edited collections.