David Bevington Award
Winner: Ndiaye, Noémie. Scripts of Blackness: Early Modern Performance Culture and the Making of Race. RaceB4Race: Critical Race Studies of the Premodern Series. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022.
The Bevington committee is delighted to award the Bevington Award for best new book in early drama studies to Noémie Ndiaye, Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Assistant Professor of Renaissance and Early Modern English Literature at the University of Chicago, for Scripts of Blackness: Early Modern Performance Culture and the Making of Race, published in the RaceB4Race series edited by Geraldine Heng and Ayanna Thompson for the University of Pennsylvania Press. This monograph, the author’s first, explores the theatrical poetics of three techniques of impersonation, or “scripts of blackness,” used by white performers to represent Afro-diasporic people in the drama of England, France, and Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: cosmetic black-up, acoustic blackspeak, and kinetic black dances. The committee, unanimous in its choice, found this book to be urgently important, ingeniously crafted, exceptionally insightful, and ineluctably persuasive.
Honorable Mention: Peters, Julie Stone. Law as Performance: Theatricality, Spectatorship, and the Making of Law in Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Europe. London: Oxford University Press, 2022.
The Bevington committee would like to recognize with an honorable mention Julie Stone Peters, H. Gordon Garbedian Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, for Law as Performance: Theatricality, Spectatorship, and the Making of Law in Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Europe, published in the Law and Literature series edited by Robert Spoo and Simon Stern for Oxford University Press in 2022. This monograph tracks the history of legal performance and spectatorship from the Athenian lawcourt and the Roman legal theater to the medieval courtroom, stocks, and scaffold and then on to the early modern stage, tavern, and Temple of Law, demonstrating the fundamental necessity of theatrical performance to law's realization. The committee deeply appreciated this book for its marriage of comprehensive scholarship and elegant wit.
Committee: Nerida Newbigin, Jeffery G. Stoyanoff, and E. Maggie Solberg (chair). Awards announcement and presentation took place during the annual MRDS business meeting in May 2023, at the 58th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan.