CRRS Working Group: Whiteness in the Early Modern World, 1350-1800

While the study of blackness and indigeneity in the early modern world has been well established within diverse disciplines, the study of whiteness is a comparatively recent phenomenon. Given that, as well as its particularly urgent implications for our current moment, we propose to devote the 2020-2021 CRRS Working Group to addressing the following questions (among others): How was whiteness defined, constructed, and depicted in the early modern world? What did it mean in terms of ideas about labor, class, nation, gender, and beauty? How were its boundaries delineated, and against whom was it held in opposition?

In attending to whiteness as a category of analysis, we seek to complicate our understanding of race in the early modern context by moving beyond those framings that primarily racialize black and indigenous subjects without considering the ways in which whiteness was constructed and necessarily operated as a racial category across time and space. We will also explore the disciplinary and methodological frameworks we apply to our enquiry into the early modern world.

Schedule of Meetings & Readings

We will meet on Fridays at 12pm, via Zoom, until it is possible to hold safe in-person meetings. Links to readings and video meetings will be sent via e-mail by the working group organizers.

Session 1
September 25

Kim F. Hall, Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England
Introduction and Chapter One, “A World of Difference: Travel Narratives and the Inscription of Culture,” pp. 1-61

Session 2
October 30

Jonathan Schorsch, Jews and Blacks in the Early Modern World
Chapter Eight, “Inventing Jewish Whiteness in the Seventeenth-Century Western Sephardic Diaspora,” pp. 166-216

Session 3
December 4

Cheryl Harris, “Whiteness as Property”
Harvard Law Review 106, no. 8 (1993): 1707-1791

Session 4
January 22

Kimberly Poiteven, “Inventing Whiteness: Cosmetics, Race, and Women in Early Modern England”
Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 11, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2011): 59-89

Session 5
February 26

Peter Erickson, “God for Harry, England, and Saint George: British National Identity and the Emergence of White Self-Fashioning”
in Peter Erickson and Clark Hulse, eds., Early Modern Visual Culture: Representation, Race, and Empire in Renaissance England, pp. 315-345

Session 6
March 26

Arthur L. Little, “Re-Historicizing Race, White Melancholia, and the Shakespearean Property”
Shakespeare Quarterly 67, No. 1 (Spring 2016): 84-103

10:00-11:30 am: Labor and Embodiment
Dijana O. Apostolski
Chris Baldwin
Lucia Dacome
Angela Zhang

11:30 am-1:00 pm: Lunch

1:00-2:30 pm: Gender, Sexuality, and Performance
Urvashi Chakravarty
Zainab Cheema
Alexandra Logue
VK Preston
Julia Rombough
Tamara J. Walker

3:00-4:30 pm: Discourses of Belonging and Exclusion
Adriana Grimaldi
Elizabeth Pentland
Joel Rodgers
Lindsay Sidders
Elisa Tersigni

CANCELLED: Click here for info.
Kim F. Hall (Barnard College)
“Can You Be White and Hear This? The Racial Art of Listening in American Moor and Desdemona”