Barbara Palmer Award
Winner: Mayo, Sarah. “‘Printed follyes’: Mountebanks and the Performance of Ambivalence within the Archive.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 51, no. 3 (2021): 509-31.
The committee is pleased to award the Barbara Palmer Prize for best new essay in early drama archival research to Sarah Mayo’s “‘Printed follyes’: Mountebanks and the Performance of Ambivalence within the Archive,” published by the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 51, no. 3 (2021). Mayo compellingly focuses on the figure of the mountebank as an epistemological problem for the early moderns: specifically, the ways in which different archives try to pin down the mountebank by looking at what they do. Exploring the mountebank at a surprising crossroads of theatre, medicine, and migration, Mayo deepens this figure through archival discovery, savvy conceptual analysis of those discoveries, and innovative close readings from Ben Jonson’s Volpone to James Shirley’s The Bird in a Cage. The article engages in a sustained theorization of the archives that draws on broader current conversations in performance studies.
Honorable Mention: Chakravarty, Urvashi. “What Is the History of Actors of Color Performing in Shakespeare in the UK?” In The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race, edited by Ayanna Thompson, 190–207. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2021.
The committee wishes to recognize with an honorable mention Urvashi Chakravarty for “What Is the History of Actors of Color Performing in Shakespeare in the UK?” published in The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race, edited by Ayanna Thompson (Cambridge University Press, 2021). Chakravarty deepens the transatlantic performance history of BIPOC performers by offering fresh archival discoveries, particularly from the nineteenth century, of Black and South-Asian actors working in the UK. Providing a model of how to leverage currently available digital archives to reveal unsung histories, Chakravarty at the same time identifies key methodological challenges in doing so. For example, while traditional historiography centers Aldridge and his successor Morgan, Chakravarty reveals a larger pool of actors, including women of color, who played a crucial part in the ongoing legacy of Renaissance drama.
Committee: Penelope Geng, Noémie Ndiaye, and Elizabeth E. Tavares (chair). Awards announcement and presentation took place during the MRDS business meeting in May, held online by way of Zoom due to the COVID19 global pandemic.