New Book | The Artist’s Studio

Posted in books by Editor on March 31, 2023

From Thames & Hudson:

James Hall, The Artist’s Studio: A Cultural History (London: Thames & Hudson, 2023), 288 pages, ISBN: ‎978-0500021712, $40.

book coverA revealing chronicle and visual history of the artist’s studio, examining the myth and reality of the creative space from early times to the present day.

The artist’s workplace has always been an idealized utopia as well as the domain of dirty, backbreaking work. Written descriptions, paintings, prints, and even photographs of the artist’s atelier distort as much as they document. This illuminating cultural history of the artist’s studio charts the myth and reality of the creative space from ancient Greece to the present.

Tracing a history that extends far beyond the bohemian, romantic, and renaissance cults of the artist, each chapter focuses on key developments of the studio space as seen in a variety of familiar and unfamiliar images. Mythical and divine makers and some amateurs are included, alongside craftspeople―potters, illuminators, weavers, embroiderers, and architects―along with artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi, Claude Monet, Michelangelo, Rosa Bonheur, and Diego Rivera. Each carefully chosen example places the studio within a cultural and political context, with the aim of correcting the historical imbalance that has distorted the picture by leaving out the many artisans who collaborated with artists. Leading authority James Hall also extends the discussion to the artist’s museum and the artist’s house, as well as the development of portable studios, with sections on ‘plein air’ painting and drawing in the East. Visually appealing, featuring images of the artist’s studio from around the world, this compelling, eye-opening history identifies key studios, individuals, trends, and turning points in the history of the creative space.

James Hall is an art critic, historian, lecturer, and broadcaster. He was formerly chief art critic for the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. He contributes to The Guardian Saturday Review, The Times, and Times Literary Supplement, as well as well as to magazines and catalogues. He is the author of several books, including The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History.


1  Luxury and Lameness: The Shield of Achilles
2  Wisdom’s Workshop: Simon the Shoemaker
3  Struggles in the Scriptorium: Waging War on Dead Skin
4  Pure Gold: Doing God’s (or the Devil’s) Work
5  The Velvet Revolution: Cennini’s Studietto
6  Piety and Pretentiousness: Saint Luke Paints the Virgin
7  ‘Always Keeping Paper in His Hand’: A School for Art and Scandal
8  In and Out of the Comfort Zone: Leonardo versus Michelangelo
9  Creatures of the Night: ‘Only the Dark Serves to Plant Man’
10  Making a Spectacle: The Systematic Studio
11  Mirroring the Process: Velázquez to Reynolds
12  Women in the Studio: Inspiration, Destitution, Cleaning, Crimes of Passion
13  Chaste Space: Friedrich to Mondrian
14  Eliminating Easels: Workshop and Factory
15  Inside / Outside: Studios for Nomads

Select Bibliography
Picture Credits


The Burlington Magazine, March 2023

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, journal articles, reviews by Editor on March 30, 2023

The eighteenth century in the March issue of The Burlington . . .

The Burlington Magazine 165 (March 2023)

Magazine cover featuring two drawings by Delacroix.E D I T O R I A L

• “Omai,” p. 219.

Given his undisputed central place in the history of British art, it is surprising that the three-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Joshua Reynolds is not being celebrated this year with more éclat. The principal tribute will be an exhibition Reframing Reynolds: A Celebration (24 June – 29 October 2023) at the Box in Plymouth, the city where Reynolds made his reputation—he was born on 16th July 1723 at Plympton, on its outskirts. The exhibition will explore the patronage he enjoyed from the Eliot family of Port Eliot, St Germans, and will be supplemented by the museum’s collection of paintings by Reynolds, the largest outside London.

Reynolds’s reputation rests largely on his portraits, so it might have been expected that the museum that contains the largest number, the National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG), would have marked the occasion with an exhibition of its own, but given that it has been closed for the past three years for a comprehensive redevelopment and redisplay, due to be unveiled on 22nd June, it has had other priorities. Yet any disappointment that the NPG is neglecting Reynolds in his anniversary year was allayed by the announcement last August that it is seeking to raise £50 million to acquire one of his greatest paintings, the full-length portrait of Omai, the first Polynesian to visit Britain. Universally praised ever since it was first seen in public, at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1776, it is a work both of great beauty and of compelling historic interest as a document of the earliest European encounter with Pacific cultures. . . Keep reading here»

Jean-Baptiste Greuze, A Young Woman Praying at the Altar of Love (Votive Offering to Cupid), 1767, oil on canvas, 146 × 113 cm (London: The Wallace Collection).


• Yuriko Jackall, Barbara H. Berrie, John K. Delaney, and Michael Swicklik, “Greuze’s Greens: Ephemeral Colours, Classical Ambitions,” pp. 268–79.

Jean-Baptiste Greuze was criticized in his lifetime for the unduly muted palette of some of his paintings. New technical analysis, combined with the recent discovery of a list in his handwriting of pigments he used, has revealed that his greens have faded because they incorporate fugitive yellow lakes, a practice Greuze continued even after its disadvantages were obvious.


• Roko Rumora, Review of the exhibition Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2022–23), pp. 312–15.

• Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Review of the newly opened, expanded Gainsborough’s House (Sudbury), pp. 322–25.

• Friso Lammertse, Review of the newly renovated Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp (KMSKA), pp. 332–35.

• Simon Swynfen Jervis, Review of Jean-Pierre Fournet, Cuirs dorés, ‘Cuirs de Cordoue’: un art européen (Éditions d’art Monelle Hayot, 2019), pp. 342–43.

• Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Review of Aaron Hyman, Rubens in Repeat: The Logic of the Copy in Colonial Latin America (Getty Research Institute, 2021), pp. 343–44.

• Stephen Bann, Review of Joanthan Ribner, Loss in French Romantic Art, Literature, and Politics (Routledge, 2022), pp. 344–45.

• Charlotte Gere, Review of Julius Bryant, Enriching the V&A: A Collection of Collections, 1862–1914 (Lund Humphries and V&A Publishing, 2022), pp. 345–46.

• Jennifer Johnson, Review of Sam Rose, Interpreting Art (UCL Press, 2022), p. 350.


New Book | Intimate Interiors

Posted in books by Editor on March 29, 2023

From Bloomsbury:

Tara Zanardi and Christopher M. S. Johns, eds., Intimate Interiors: Sex, Politics, and Material Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Bedroom and Boudoir (London: Bloomsbury, 2023), 296 pages, ISBN: 978-1350277601, $120.

A desire for intimacy in domestic spaces—motivated by a growing sense of individualistic expression, an incentive to conceal the labor or enslavement taking place, and an appetite for solace and comfort—led to interiors taking on more specific roles in the eighteenth century. By examining the architectural, visual, and material culture of eighteenth-century spaces, Intimate Interiors foregrounds the interrelated concepts of intimacy, privacy, informality, and sociability in order to show how these ideas played an increasingly integral role in the period’s architectural and material design. Across eleven innovative chapters that explore issues of gender, politics, travel, exoticism, imperialism, sensorial experiences, identity, interiority, and modernity, this volume demonstrates how intimacy was a fundamental goal in the planning of private quarters. In doing so, the political nature of private spaces is uncovered, whilst highlighting the contradictions and complexities of these highly performative ‘private’ interiors. Employing distinct methodological perspectives across various geographical sites, from Turkey to Versailles, Britain to Benin, Intimate Interiors draws as-yet untraced connections between Enlightenment Europe, imperial outposts, and major metropolitan centers across the globe.

The volume is part of the Material Culture of Art and Design series, edited by Michael Yonan.

Tara Zanardi is Associate Professor of Art History at Hunter College, CUNY. She publishes on eighteenth-century Spanish visual and material culture, including “Silver” (Journal18 special issue, 2022), Visual Typologies from the Early Modern to the Contemporary: Local Practices and Global Contexts (co-edited with Lynda Klich, 2018), and Framing Majismo: Art and Royal Identity in Eighteenth-Century Spain (2016). She has received fellowships from NEH, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fulbright Program, and the John Carter Brown Library.

Christopher M. S. Johns was the Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Professor of History of Art at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He began his teaching career at the University of Virginia in 1985 and rose to the position of endowed chair at Vanderbilt in 2003. A specialist in eighteenth-century Italian art, decorative art, material culture, and architecture, he published widely on the relationship between art, politics, and religion in early modern Italian culture in particular. He was a founding member of the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture. Sadly, Johns passed away in 2022.


List of Contributors
List of Plates
List of Figures


Introduction — Tara Zanardi (Hunter College, CUNY) and Christopher M.S. Johns (Vanderbilt University, until 2022)

Part 1: Power, Authority, Agency, Privacy
1  Sex, Lies, and Books: Staging Identity in the Comte d’Artois’s Cabinet Turc — Ashley Bruckbauer (Independent Scholar)
2  Enlightenment Naples Imagines Imperial China: Queen Maria Amalia’s Chinoiserie Boudoir — Christopher M. S. Johns (Vanderbilt University, until 2022)
3  Who Let the Dogs In?: The Hundezimmer in the Amalienburg Palace — Christina Lindeman (University of South Alabama)
4  Material Temptations: Isabel de Farnesio and the Politics of the Bedroom — Tara Zanardi (Hunter College, CUNY)

Part 2: Staging Identity and Performing Sociability
5  A Stage for Wealth and Power in Eighteenth-Century Lima: The Estrado of Doña Rosa Juliana Sánchez de Tagle, First Marchioness of Torre Tagle — Jorge Rivas (Denver Art Museum)
6  An Artist’s Bedrooms: Angelica Kauffman in London and Rome — Wendy Wassyng Roworth (University of Rhode Island)
7  The Mask in the Dressing Room: Cosmetic Discourses and the Masquerade Toilet in Eighteenth-Century British Print Culture — Sandra Gómez Todo (Independent Scholar)

Part 3: Hidden Lives and Interiority
8  Mythologies of the Boudoir: Jacques-Louis David’s The Loves of Paris and Helen — Dorothy Johnson (University of Iowa)
9  Political Interiority and Spatial Seclusion in West African Royal Sleeping Rooms — Katherine Calvin (Kenyon College)
10  On the Wings of Perfumed Reverie: Multisensory Construction of Elsewhere and Elite Female Authority in Marie-Antoinette’s Boudoir Turc — Hyejin Lee (Independent Scholar)
11  ‘Virginian Luxuries’ at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello — Maurie McInnis (Stony Brook University)



New Book | All Walks of Life

Posted in books by Editor on March 28, 2023

From Arnoldsche:

Vanessa Sigalas and Meredith Chilton, eds., with additional contributions by André van der Goes, Jennifer Mass, and Aaron Shugar, and photography by Melissa Shimmerman, All Walks of Life: A Journey with The Alan Shimmerman Collection, Meissen Porcelain Figures of the Eighteenth Century (Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers, 2023), 672 pages, ISBN: 978-3897906419, €68 / £75 / $115.

Book coverAll Walks of Life offers a unique opportunity to get to know the eighteenth-century people of Saxony, Paris, London, and St. Petersburg through the Meissen porcelain sculpture of the Alan Shimmerman Collection. Readers will become participants in a tour through Dresden and Meissen with Johann Joachim Kaendler as their guide, with excursions to London, Paris, and St. Petersburg also on the itinerary. Kaendler, along with his fellow modellers and painters at Meissen, captured glimpses of everyday life by paying meticulous attention to the smallest details: the carefully arranged tray of a trinket seller, the personal writing of a love letter, the larding tools of a cook preparing a hare. Whimsical glimpses into the lives of these everyday characters are created by inserting the porcelain figures into their eighteenth-century setting, using period illustrations and engravings as a backdrop.

The outstanding porcelain figures and groups of the Alan Shimmerman Collection form an unrivalled assemblage of the finest creations from one of the most famous porcelain manufactories in the world. The collection, which includes not only the most excellent examples of courtly and commedia dell’arte figures, but also lesser known and under-researched representations of everyday people, presents an aspect of Meissen production missing from many other collections. Alan Shimmerman’s focus on collecting complete series of figures, such as the Criers and Artisans, enables a fresh look at the creation, output, and distribution of Meissen porcelain. The publication includes the first comprehensive large-scale scientific analysis of a major collection of Meissen figures revealing new and unexpected findings.

Vanessa Sigalas is the David W. Dangremond Associate Curator for Collections Research at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut. Her research focuses on European decorative arts, especially German porcelain and ivory. She also serves as the Managing Editor of the American Ceramic Circle Journal.

Meredith Chilton, C.M., is an independent art historian and curator who lives in Warwickshire, UK. She is a specialist in European ceramics of the 1700s, court and theatre history, and food and dining culture. Her publications include Harlequin Unmasked (2001), Fired by Passion (2009), and The King’s Peas (2019).

Melissa Shimmerman is a Toronto-based freelance photographer. Specializing in fine art and in commercial and portrait photography, her work is featured in art publications and catalogues for museums, galleries, and private collectors. Her oeuvre includes photography of art by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, and the collections of the Gardiner Museum in Toronto.

André van der Goes is a former director of the Museum of Applied Arts, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, and lecturer of the History of Art at the Technische Universität Dresden. Since 2012 he has been organizing study tours to museums, collections, and palaces in Dresden and other important European cultural cities for Grand Tour Dresden. His publications principally cover the history of material and nonmaterial culture.

Jennifer Mass is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Cultural Heritage Science at Bard Graduate Center and the President and Founder of Scientific Analysis of Fine Art. She also leads the scientific vetting committee at TEFAF New York and has co-authored several publications on Meissen porcelain colorants and technologies.

Aaron Shugar is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Conservation Science in the Art Conservation Department at Buffalo State College, New York. He received his PhD in Archaeometallurgy from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. He has published and conducted extensive scientific analysis on a wide range of art and archaeological materials for over twenty years.

New Book | Piranesi@300

Posted in books, conferences (summary) by Editor on March 26, 2023

From Artemide Edizioni:

Mario Bevilacqua and Clare Hornsby, eds., Piranesi@300 (Rome: Artemide Edizioni, 2023), 296 pages, ISBN: 978-8875754327, €48.

A volume of essays celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778).

Piranesi: printmaker, architect, antiquarian, art theorist, art dealer, and polemicist, passionate in his praise of the greatness of Rome. He was a protagonist in 18th-century European arts and letters, a brilliant artistic innovator, and a controversial and exuberant personality, universally celebrated and admired. The 26 essays in this volume—from a wide range of authors writing in Italian, English, and French—include the contributions to the 2021 conference celebrating the 300th anniversary of his birth, a collaboration between architectural historian Mario Bevilacqua, director of the Centro di Studi sulla Cultura e l’Immagine di Roma, and art historian Clare Hornsby, Research Fellow at the British School at Rome; they are also the editors of this volume published by Artemide Edizioni. The essays represent new research on the artist, on the collecting of his work internationally, and on his profound and long lasting influence in Europe and beyond, from the age of the Grand Tour until now.


Piranesi incisore, architetto, antiquario e teorico
• Ginevra Mariani — Progetto Piranesi: il catalogo generale delle matrici di Piranesi, 2010–2020. Riflessioni e nuovi dati
• Lucia Ghedin — Deduzioni e ipotesi sulla tecnica incisoria di Piranesi
• Giovanna Scaloni — Piranesi riflette su Montano: la genesi della pianta del Campo Marzio
• Maria Grazia D’Amelio, Fabrizio De Cesaris — Giovanni Battista Piranesi e l’architettura pratica
• Paolo Pastres — Fantasia al potere: Piranesi, Algarotti e la lezione di Antonio Conti
• Lola Kantor-Kazovsky — Piranesi’s Invenzioni capric di carceri and the Cartesian concept of dream
• Silvia Gavuzzo-Stewart — La dedica di Piranesi a Lord Charlemont nella tavola II delle Antichità Romane
• Adriàn Fernàndez Almoguera — Rêver le Nil depuis le Tibre: le regard de Piranèse sur la question égyptienne
• Eleonora Pistis — The thinkability of architecture: Piranesi without images
• Heather Hyde Minor — Piranesi’s Epistolic Art

Collezionare Piranesi
• Ebe Antetomaso — Materiali piranesiani nella collezione Corsini: appunti dai bibliotecari
• Georg Schelbert, Charleen Rethmeyer — Piranesi in Prussia: spotlights on a variable relationship
• Gudula Metze — 1720–1778: Giovanni Battista Piranesi and the Kupferstich-Kabinett Dresden
• Delfin Rodríguez Ruiz — Piranesi e la Spagna: rapporti culturali, artistici e architettonici durante l’illuminismo spagnolo

L’influenza di Piranesi: Europa e oltre
• Clare Hornsby — Piranesi’s Ichnographiam Campi Martii Antiquae Urbis: an investigation into its sources and innovations and its influences on the work of Robert Adam
• Valeria Mirra — Dalla fortuna di Giovanni Battista Piranesi in Francia allo stabilimento dei Piranesi frères a Parigi
• Olga Medvedkova — La Dévideuse italienne ou habiter la Ruine
• Aleksander Musiał — Beyond capriccio: Piranesi’s transgressive classicism and its Eastern European receptions
• Mario Bevilacqua — Piranesi in eighteenth-century America
• Angela Rosch Rodrigues — Piranesi at the Brazilian National Library: a trajectory of the ruine parlanti from Rome to Rio de Janeiro
• Helena Perez Gallardo — Sotto il cielo di Parigi: Piranesi negli incisori e fotografi francesi nel 1850
• Hiromasa Kanayama — Piranesi nel Giappone dell’Ottocento: le vicende della collezione Kamei

Piranesi XX–XXI secolo
• Victor Plahte Tschudi — Carceri and Cubism
• Giacomo Pala — Architetto postumo, o il postmoderno e ‘Piranesi’
• Angelo Marletta — Forma Urbis forma Architecturae: Piranesi, Kahn e i frammenti di Roma
• Jeanne Britton, Michael Gavin, Zoe Langer, Jason Porter — The Digital Piranesi

New Book | Mudlark’d: Hidden Histories from the River Thames

Posted in books by Editor on March 24, 2023

Mudlarking depends upon tides, and the Thames is particularly affected by robust tidal churning (as the Seine is not, as noted by Jason Goodwin in a 2019 Country Life essay). From Princeton UP:

Malcolm Russell, Mudlark’d: Hidden Histories from the River Thames (2022), 224 pages, ISBN: ‎978-0691235783, $35.

Book coverA captivating history of London as told through objects recovered from the muddy banks of the Thames and the lives of the people who owned them.

Mudlark’d combines insights from two hundred rare objects discovered on the foreshore of the River Thames with a wealth of breathtaking illustrations to uncover the hidden histories of ordinary people from prehistory to today. Malcolm Russell tells the stories behind each find, revealing the habits, customs, and artistry of the people who created and used it.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, London was the busiest port in the world, exchanging goods and ideas with people from every continent. The shores of the Thames have long been densely packed with taverns, brothels, and markets, and the river’s muddy banks are a repository of intriguing and precious objects that evoke long-forgotten ways of life. With Russell as your guide, a bottleneck of a jug is shown to be a talisman to counter the ill effects of witchcraft. Glass beads expose the brutal realities of the transatlantic slave trade. Clay tobacco pipes uncover the lives of Victorian magicians. A scrap of Tudor cloth illuminates the experiences of Dutch and French religious refugees. These are just some of the stories told in Mudlark’d, which also contains a primer, giving advice on how to mudlark on tidal rivers around the world and outlining the tools and equipment you will need.

Malcolm Russell has contributed to publications such as Treasure Hunting, The Searcher, and Beachcombing. A lifelong mudlark, he studied history at the University of Sheffield, where he was recently an honorary research fellow in the Department of History. His remarkable finds were featured in the Thames Festival exhibition Foragers of the Foreshore.

New Book | Enslaved: The Sunken History

Posted in books by Editor on March 23, 2023

From Simon & Schuster:

Sean Kingsley and Simcha Jacobovici, with a preface by Brenda Jones, Enslaved: The Sunken History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New York: Pegasus Books, 2023), 336 pages, ISBN: ‎978-1639362387, $29.

From the writers behind the acclaimed documentary series Enslaved (starring Samuel L. Jackson), comes a rich and revealing narrative of the true global and human scope of the transatlantic slave trade. The trade existed for 400 years, during which 12 million people were trafficked, and 2 million would die en route.

In these pages we meet the remarkable group, Diving with a Purpose (DWP), as they dive sunken slave ships all around the world. They search for remains and artifacts testifying to the millions of kidnapped Africans that were transported to Europe, the Americas, and the Caribbean. From manilla bracelets to shackles, cargo, and other possessions, the finds from these wrecks bring the stories of lost lives back to the surface.

As we follow the men and women of DWP across eleven countries, Jacobovici and Kingsley’s rich research puts the archaeology and history of these wrecks that lost between 1670 to 1858 in vivid context. From the ports of Gold Coast Africa, to the corporate hubs of trading companies of England, Portugal and the Netherlands, and the final destinations in the New World, Jacobovici and Kingsley show how the slave trade touched every nation and every society on earth.

Though global in scope, Enslaved makes history personal as we experience the divers’ sadness, anger, reverence, and awe as they hold tangible pieces of their ancestors’ world in their hands. What those people suffered on board those ships can never be forgiven. Enslaved works to ensure that it will always be remembered and understood, and is the first book to tell the story of the transatlantic slave trade from the bottom of the sea.

Sean Kingsley is a marine archaeologist who has explored over 350 wrecks from Israel to America. Off the UK he identified the world’s earliest Royal African Company English ‘slaver’ ship. Dr. Kingsley writes for National Geographic and is the founder of Wreckwatch Magazine about the world’s sunken wonders.

Simcha Jacobovici is a three-time Emmy winning Israeli/Canadian filmmaker, New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally acclaimed journalist. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Religion at Huntington University in Ontario. Jacobovici was Showrunner/Director of the 6-part series Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, for which he has received numerous awards including two NAACP Image Award nominations. Enslaved is his fourth book. He divides his time between Toronto and Israel.

New Book | The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley

Posted in books by Editor on March 23, 2023

From Macmillan:

David Waldstreicher, The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley: A Poet’s Journeys through American Slavery and Independence (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023), 496 pages, ISBN: ‎ 978-0809098248, $30.

A paradigm-shattering biography of Phillis Wheatley, whose extraordinary poetry set African American literature at the heart of the American Revolution.

book coverAdmired by George Washington, ridiculed by Thomas Jefferson, published in London, and read far and wide, Phillis Wheatley led one of the most extraordinary American lives. Seized in West Africa and forced into slavery as a child, she was sold to a merchant family in Boston, where she became a noted poet at a young age. Mastering the Bible, Greek and Latin translations, and the works of Pope and Milton, she composed elegies for local elites, celebrated political events, praised warriors, and used her verse to variously lampoon, question, and assert the injustice of her enslaved condition. “Can I then but pray / Others may never feel tyrannic sway?” By doing so, she added her voice to a vibrant, multisided conversation about race, slavery, and discontent with British rule; before and after her emancipation, her verses shook up racial etiquette and used familiar forms to create bold new meanings. She demonstrated a complex but crucial fact of the times: that the American Revolution both strengthened and limited Black slavery. In this new biography, the historian David Waldstreicher offers the fullest account to date of Wheatley’s life and works, correcting myths, reconstructing intimate friendships, and deepening our understanding of her verse and the revolutionary era. Throughout The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley, he demonstrates the continued vitality and resonance of a woman who wrote, in a founding gesture of American literature, “Thy Power, O Liberty, makes strong the weak / And (wond’rous instinct) Ethiopians speak.”

David Waldstreicher teaches history at the City University of New York Graduate Center and is the author of Slavery’s Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification and Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery, and the American Revolution. He has written for The New York Times Book Review, Boston Review, and The Atlantic, among other publications.

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

From Jennifer Schuessler’s review for The NY Times:

Jennifer Schuessler, “A Fresh Look at a Pioneering Black Voice of Revolutionary America,” The New York Times (2 March 2023). A new biography places the poet Phillis Wheatley in her own time — and in the middle of the current hot debate about the American Revolution and slavery.

. . . Waldstreicher, who teaches at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, is known for deeply researched, tightly written studies, which aim to complicate any comforting idealization of the founding. . . .

His books (which include a study of Ben Franklin and slavery) and his blunt intellectual style haven’t always made him popular. Some traditionalists in the field, he said tartly, prefer to “pretend I don’t exist.”

Waldstreicher is also a longtime scourge of “Founders’ Chic,” as historians refer to reverential best sellers extolling the character of the founders (often by exaggerating their opposition to slavery). But his new book, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, is itself a founder biography of sorts, treating Wheatley not only as the progenitor of the African American literary tradition but an important political voice in the creation of the nation itself. . . .

New Book | Scripts of Blackness

Posted in books, reviews by Editor on March 23, 2023

From Penn Press—and see Ellen Welch’s recent review for Journal18 . . .

Noémie Ndiaye, Scripts of Blackness: Early Modern Performance Culture and the Making of Race (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022), 376 pages, ISBN: 978-1512822632, $65. RaceB4Race: Critical Race Studies of the Premodern series

Book cover with visual reference to a costume print by Henri Bonnart depicting a woman (the print is entitled L'Afrique) partially covered by a red theater curtain and holding a dark-colored mask in her right hand away from her face.Scripts of Blackness shows how the early modern mass media of theatre and performance culture at-large helped turn blackness into a racial category, that is, into a type of difference justifying emerging social hierarchies and power relations in a new world order driven by colonialism and capitalism. Noemie Ndiaye explores the techniques of impersonation used by white performers to represent Afro-diasporic people in England, France, and Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, using a comparative and transnational framework. She 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, and track a number of metaphorical strains that early modern playtexts 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. Those scripts were often gendered and hinged on notions of demonization, exclusion, exploitation, animalization, commodification, sexualization, consensual enslavement, misogynoir, infantilization, and evocative association with other racialized minorities. Scripts of Blackness attempts to grasp the stories that Western Europeans told themselves through performative blackness, and the effects of those fictions on early modern Afro-diasporic subjects.

Noémie Ndiaye is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Chicago.


Introduction: Performative Blackness in Early Modern Europe
1  A Brief History of Baroque Black-Up: Cosmetic Blackness and Religion
2  A Brief History of Baroque Black-Up: Cosmetic Blackness, Gender, and Sexuality
3  Blackspeak: Acoustic Blackness and Accents of Race
4  Black Moves: Race, Dance, and Power
Post-Script: Ecologies of Racial Performance

Appendix: Selection of Early Modern Plays Featuring Black Characters

New Book | Boundaries of Belonging

Posted in books by Editor on March 22, 2023

From Penn Press:

April Lee Hatfield, Boundaries of Belonging: English Jamaica and the Spanish Caribbean, 1655–1715 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-1512824018, $45.

In the decades following England’s 1655 conquest of Spanish Jamaica, the western Caribbean became the site of overlapping and competing claims—to land, maritime spaces, and people. English Jamaica, located in the midst of Spanish American port towns and shipping lanes, was central to numerous projects of varying legality, aimed at acquiring Spanish American wealth. Those projects were backdrop to a wide-ranging movement of people who made their own claims to political membership in developing colonial societies, and by extension, in Atlantic empires.

Boundaries of Belonging follows the stories of these individuals—licensed traders, smugglers, freedom seekers, religious refugees, pirates, and interlopers—who moved through the contested spaces of the western Caribbean. Though some were English and Spanish, many others were Sephardic, Tule, French, Kalabari, Scottish, Dutch, or Brandenberg. They also included creole people who identified themselves by their local place of origin or residence–as Jamaican, Cuban, or Panamanian.

As they crossed into and out of rival imperial jurisdictions, many either sought or rejected Spanish or English subjecthood, citing their place of birth, their nation or ethnicity, their religion, their loyalty, or their economic or military contributions to colony or empire. Colonial and metropolitan officials weighed those claims as they tried to impose sovereignty over diverse and mobile people in a region of disputed and shifting jurisdictions. These contests over who belonged in what empire and why, and over what protections such belonging conferred, in turn helped to determine who would be included within a developing law of nations.

April Lee Hatfield is Associate Professor of History at Texas A&M University and author of Atlantic Virginia: Intercolonial Relations in the Seventeenth Century, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.


List of Maps

Introduction ‘In the Midst of the Spaniards’
1  ‘The Lawless Motions of Privateers’
2  ‘A Mungrel Breek of Spaniards’
3  ‘Free Negroes Must Not Be Sold’
4  ‘Amongst the White and Civilized People of the World’
5  ‘Our Holy Catholic Faith and the Asiento’
6  ‘The Trading World’
7  ‘In the Hands of Creolians’
Conclusion: ‘The Law of Nations’


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