First thing first, we the co-editors, Lia Markey and Noémie Ndiaye, wish to thank, from the bottom of our hearts, the staff members of the Center for Renaissance Studies (CRS) at the Newberry Library: Rebecca L. Fall and Christopher Fletcher, without whose ideas, energy, dedication, and good humor not a single part of this multifaceted collaboration would have happened. In fact, it was Becky Fall who planted the seed for this collaboration between the Newberry’s CRS and RaceB4Race® back in fall 2019. Similarly, George Amos Poole III Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Suzanne Karr Schmidt, has been invaluable in searching the Newberry’s archives for many of the items discussed in this book and Yasmine Hachimi’s invaluable input as the Public Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow has helped us propel forward the related exhibition, digital resources, and public programming. The Newberry #DreamTeam made this project possible.
We owe an infinite debt of gratitude to the many contributors to this volume (do read their awing biographies!) who all accepted our invitation enthusiastically and kindly welcomed the productive challenges of co-writing essays across disciplinary lines (for long-form essay writers), intimately discussing the role of PCRS in their personal itineraries (for notes from the field), or embracing a whole new genre (for the interview and the catalog entries). Let us thank them all once again here for their fierceness, determination, promptness, and critical generosity as they keep paving new ways for PCRS. We could not have wished for a better home for this book than ACMRS Press (spearheaded by Ayanna Thompson, Roy Rukkila, and Geoff Way) whose unwavering commitment to accessibility aligned beautifully with our project. A Samuel H. Kress Foundation grant provided the financial support for the publication, and we are grateful to the Newberry Library’s Office of Development, particularly to grant writer Caroline Carter, for supporting this endeavor. Catherine Gass provided the excellent photography of Newberry items for the book and Juan Molina Hernández, Leith Calcote, Natalia Maliga, Patrick Kepley, and Christopher Cialdella were all instrumental in the process. Todd Halvorsen and his team at ACMRS Press, as well as Andrea Villasenor and Mary Kennedy at the Newberry Library worked together to design the book’s striking cover while Todd produced the beautiful interior composition. Extra thanks go to Analú María López and Jill Gage for their input on collection items. Finally, we are grateful to the Art Institute of Chicago, Thoma Foundation, and Adler Planetarium curators and staff who were instrumental in shaping this project through discussions about collection items and loans. While these materials are not included in this book, they are represented in the exhibition and were essential for our conception of the volume.
We were most fortunate to have Bryan Keene and Risham Majeed graciously agree to serve as shepherds/peer reviewers for this book manuscript: their positive, constructive, and grounded feedback has truly enabled this volume to reach its full critical potential. Editing a book with so many moving pieces is hard work, and we could not have done it alone. We are particularly grateful to University of Chicago graduate student and Newberry UChicago research associate Vivian Lei, who not only contributed original pieces to this volume but also provided vital help in formatting and editing essays and compiling its bibliography, and to Northwestern University graduate student Emily Wood, who gave this book’s bibliography the final big push it needed. And finally, heartfelt thanks go to the marvelous Kavita Mudan Finn who designed the beautiful index and copyedited the proofs for this volume.
This collaboration between the CRS and RaceB4Race® solidified when Noémie and Lia had a cup of coffee at Dollop in March 2020, just before the world shut down, and Noémie wishes to thank Lia for this adventure. You may not know this, Lia, but when I started my doctoral dissertation, I told my advisor that I wanted to study the racializing representation of Blackness in theatre and in visual culture. (My advisor had the good sense to point out that this was too much for one book, and I went on to write Scripts of Blackness.) Thank you for giving me the opportunity to fulfill the second half of that old dream. Collaborating on an exhibition, the present edited volume, and cultural programming around Premodern Critical Race Studies over the last three years has been a wild ride, and I could not have wished for a better partner in crime. Thank goodness for your brilliance, your vision, your cool, and your patience, Lia.
Lia wishes to thank Noémie for her patience and fierce determination to produce an incredible book, even while a pandemic was raging. Most importantly, I am grateful to have had Noémie as an encouraging partner, guide, and mentor in the field of PCRS. Like you, Noémie, I had felt frustrated with my inability to tackle race and visual culture and as an art historian working on the colonial period, this was particularly troubling. You have allowed me to think deeply on the topic and I hope we have invited others to do the same in the process of this collaboration.