Elizabeth Wright, Distinguished Research Professor of Spanish literature in the department of Romance languages and associate academic director of the Willson Center, is a principal investigator of a grant project that has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Wright and co-P.I. Nicholas Jones, assistant professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Davis, were awarded an NEH Collaborative Research Grant of $96,347 to produce an international conference and a special journal issue on Recovering Black Performance in Early Modern Iberia (1500–1800):
The conference, which will bring together 19 scholars from North America, Europe, and Latin America, will take place April 29-30, 2022 at New York University’s King Juan Carlos I Center. After undergoing peer review, conference papers will be published the following year in a special issue of Bulletin of the Comediantes, the journal of early modern Spanish-language theater of which Wright is editor. The project will draw attention to how the Atlantic slave trade and resulting African diaspora shaped Iberia’s “Golden Age” of theater.
The project took shape in summer of 2020, as Wright was involved in a Mellon Foundation-funded Willson Center public humanities project examining early modern empires and the shaping of the American South. She reached out to Jones, who had recently won the 2020 Outstanding First Book Prize of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora as well as the 30th Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize awarded by the Modern Language Association for his 2019 book Staging Habla de Negros: Radical Performances of the African Diaspora in Early Modern Spain, both to invite him to present for the Mellon project and “hoping he’d left some things in the inkwell,” as a saying in Spanish goes, that he might contribute to the Bulletin of the Comediantes.