Women's Writing Before Woolf: A Social Reference/Margo Hendricks

Margo Hendricks (1948-)Edit

Margo Hendricks was born on the 26th of January, 1948. She was born and raised in California, in the United States of America. Hendricks is a well-known and respected African-American academic, author and activist.

Early LifeEdit

The details surrounding the early life of Margo Hendricks are minimal, due to her private nature.[1] However, during a speech at the Folger Institute in September 2019, she revealed that Zeola Culpepper Jones, her great-grandmother, her father was born enslaved, but she was not.

The majority of Hendricks research and activism stems from her own experiences growing up Black in America, and the social and cultural impact that has on her own individual, and the wider context of society. She has written articles and delivered speeches on what it is to grow up African-American in America, blackness in history, the representation of black people within those histories and how all of these experiences affect the modern world.[2]

Higher Academia and CareerEdit

In 1987, Hendricks attended the University of California, Riverside campus where she received a doctorate for her thesis The Roaring Girls: A Study of Seventeenth Century Feminism and the Development of Feminist Drama.[3]

Hendricks has worked at multiple universities in California. She worked as a literature professor at San Jose State University for several years. In 1999 she attained a fellowship with the American Council of Learned Societies[4] during this time as well as a Ford Fellowship.[5] Her thesis was Cultural Property: Patronage and the Professional Women Playwright in Seventeenth Century England.

In the 2000’s she moved onto teaching at University of California, Santa Cruz campus. In 2010 she received an emerita (an academic honorary title). Her current title at the university is Professor Emerita of Renaissance and Early Modern English Literature.[6] Within a majority of her work, Hendricks wants to question the deficiency of female authors in history as well as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) people in general. In her academic essays on the interrelationship between race and gender in pre-modern literature, Hendricks describes herself as being unapologetically vocal and without filter (Hendricks 1:25). Though she hasn’t written an academic article in many years, she maintains an important role as a scholar and academic in the field.[2] She stepped away due to her discomfort with the direction the field was going. As a black person, Hendricks has made a concerted effort to teach people to detach from their “whiteness” and move towards a lesson colonised view of Shakespeare and Seventeenth Century writing. She notes that her essay, Women, Race, and Writing in the Early Modern Period, was never intended solely for literary dialogue, its purpose was to be a piece that initiated conversations amongst academics working within the early modern period that are consistently seeing the distinct social markers of race and gender. She does this while also trying to maintain the concept of “Indigeneity”, as it is often overlooked.[2]

Hendricks created a pseudonym in 2008 to creatively express her desire to write fiction. She had always wanted to write fiction stories but had been nervous to do so due to her well-respected career as an academic. She writes under the pen name Elysabeth Grace.[7] Hendricks has maintained that she often had trouble separating the “two voices” in her head, her academic works and her fiction works.[7] She has two on going series, Sisters of Saria series and the Midsummer Sisters series. [8]

She is the recipient of academic grants and fellowships from ACLS, Folger Library, Stanford Humanities centre, and Romance Writers of America (Arizona State University). In 1997, Hendricks formulated a collaborative research group comprised of classic, medieval, and early modern academics at the University of California Humanities Research Institute entitled “Theorising Race in Pre- and Early Modern Contexts” (Hendricks 5:04).

In 2020 Hendricks was offered a Fellowship at Folger Institute.[2] Her work titled Race and Romance: Colouring the Past, goes into ideas of race and academia. That there are certain places BIPOC people have been told they can and cannot exist in historical texts. How this is damaging to the works, modern academia, and the studies of fellow BIPOC. [9]

As a prominent black academic, Hendricks has also leant her voice to uplifting the struggles of fellow BIPOC. She often engages with programs, such as the RaceB4Race series at Arizona Centre for Medieval and Renaissance studies. Her goals are to add continued support to the BIPOC community in these uncertain times.[7]

Hendricks currently resides in Nevada where she “remains an unrepentant scholar of Shakespeare and other academic things”, according to the about me section of her website.[2] She is currently writing an academic memoir and undergoing research to complete ‘Heliodorus’ Daughters: Black Women and the Romance Industry’, from which she received an academic research grant from the Romance Writers of America (RWA).

Work in ShakespeareEdit

Notable themes in Hendrick’s study of Shakespeare include her acknowledgement that the study of race is anachronistic, and her focus instead follows the clear lines that trace through these texts and into the 21st Century. Hendricks argues that the investigation of racial implications in early texts requires an understanding of how the contextual and current audiences would both construct and recognise the concept of race, and its linguistic inflections (Hendricks 20). Continued efforts by Hendricks include her distinction that the early modern usage of ‘race’ varied and could specify differences born of class-based concepts, such as genealogy, psychological nature, and group typology (Hendricks 20). An example of closer examinations includes Hendricks’ interrogation of modern scholarly interpretations and representations of Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’. Hendricks accuses them of completely ignoring Othello’s skin colour, which she recognises as an acute scheme to redirect the reader’s attention away from his colouring, and onto his stature as a warrior (Hendricks 1).

"Women, Race and Writing"Edit

Hendricks is the co-editor of “Women, Race and Writing in the Early Modern Period” (Arizona State University). Hendricks comments that the purpose of the text was to initiate conversations among academics working in the fields of race and gender in the early modern period (Hendricks 4:31). A distinguishable comment made within her addition to the text includes her statement that whiteness in literature can often be disguised as a neutral racial category, against which all differences were measured (Adams).

Interrogating the AcademyEdit

At the ‘RaceB4Race Roundtable’, Hendricks inspected, interrogated and reenvisioned the phrase “To protect and to serve”, developed by the LAPD in 1955 (ACMRS 0:41). This was not done in relation to uprisings in 2020 regarding police brutality, but rather how this idea operates in pre and early modern studies and how the members of higher education address equity and inclusion in their fields (ACMRS 1:45). Hendricks comments on how BIPOC and other marginalised scholarly bodies are affected by the policing in the academic world through a complex system of academic gatekeeping and the subsequent issues regarding publication, employment, and retention (ACMRS 2:18). Hendricks calls upon modern scholars to protect and serve the marginalised communities in the academy against pernicious attacks and urges them to take a stand against the protective badge of anonymity, which she refers to as a tool of white academic supremacy. Hendricks finalises her lecture by declaring that the ongoing silence of the academics implicates them all (6:01).

Declaration of white colonisation in Premodern Race StudiesEdit

Hendricks highlights a distinction between Premodern Race Studies and Premodern Critical Race Studies. She claims that Premodern Race Studies are a practice that mirrors white settler colonisation, as the scholars approach race studies as if they have “just discovered the land” (Hendricks 5:55). Hendricks continues this analogy by declaring the scholars either ignore the pre-existing work on the study or if they deign to acknowledge it, they view it as uncultivated and something that needs to be done ‘properly’ (Hendricks 6:09). She claims all work done in the field is either ignored or briefly alluded to, rather than correctly cited, thus ‘erasing the ancestry’ as the scholars intend to destroy to replace (Hendricks 6:23). Where Hendricks recognised Premodern Race Studies as something that intersects with ideologies of white supremacy, she defines Premodern Critical Race Studies as a humanist approach that actively works to destabilise the academy’s role in furthering capitalism’s use of white supremacy to sustain itself (Hendricks 19:34).

Additional WorkEdit

Hendricks has an extensive career of books and articles, here is a condensed selection of works:

  • Hendricks, M. 1987. The Roaring Girls: A Study of Seventeenth Century Feminism and the Development of Feminist Drama. Ph.D. diss., University of California, Riverside.
  • Hendricks, M. 1992. "Managing the Barbarian: "The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage", Renaissance Drama 23, 165–188.
  • Hendricks, M. and Parker, P. 1994. Women, 'Race' and Writing in the Early Modern Period.
  • Hendricks, M. 1996. "‘The Moor of Venice,’ or the Italian on the Renaissance English Stage." Shakespearean Tragedy and Gender, pp.193-209.
  • Hendricks, M. 1996. “‘Obscured by Dreams’: Race, Empire, and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 47, no. 1, 1996, pp. 37–60.
  • Hendricks, M. 2010. "Race: A Renaissance Category?". A Companion to English Renaissance Literature and Culture, 2, pp.535-44.
  • Hendricks, M. 2016. "'A word, sweet Lucrece': Confession, Feminism, and The Rape of Lucrece", in D. Callaghan ed. A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare, 2nd, ed.

Ongoing LegacyEdit

Hendricks has been an inspiration for many black academic, especially women. Hendricks ongoing work is seen to outspokenly challenge the epistemological and historiographical practices that have dominated and centred the scholarship for ‘far too long’ (Adams). Adams comments that Hendricks’ unapologetic, interdisciplinary literary and historiographical research on the intersections of race and gender should guide all research in early modern studies until the field has fully reckoned with its history of inclusion. She has opened the door to black academics who not only want to study feminist and historic literature, but to seek empowerment within those spaces. She has spent a lot of her more recent career admonishing how race is taught in premodern academia and how this affects modern academia. [10] As she is now retired, Hendricks spends most of her time on her fiction writing, but still participates in academia. On writing she said, “this is more than a passion, this is the air we breathe.” 17

The influence of 'Women, Race and Writing'Edit

The influence of ‘Women, Race and Writing’ has been commended for inspiring scholarship over twenty-five years later, which continues to be marginalised in the field at large (Adams). Adams comments that the novel’s discussion of the dangers associated with black existence has given many scholars; particularly those marginalised and under-represented in the field, the permission, encouragement, and academic framework to think deeply about the roles of gender and race in history and literature (Adams). The volume has been applauded for encouraging a scholarly renaissance in early modern studies and influencing a new generation of academics to study the critical intersections of race in the field (Adams).

Further readingEdit

Hendricks, M. 1992. "Managing the Barbarian: "The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage", Renaissance Drama 23, 165–188. doi:10.1086/rd.23.41917288

Hendricks, M. 1996. "‘The Moor of Venice,’ or the Italian on the Renaissance English Stage." Shakespearean Tragedy and Gender, pp.193-209.

Hendricks, M. 1996. “‘Obscured by Dreams’: Race, Empire, and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 47, no. 1, 1996, pp. 37–60.

Hendricks, M. 2010. "Race: A Renaissance Category?". A Companion to English Renaissance Literature and Culture, 2, pp.535-44.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Walsh, Bernadette (2019). "Interview with Elysabeth Grace". elysabethgrace.com. https://www.elysabethgrace.com/. 
  2. "Margo Hendricks ⁠— Coloring the Past, Rewriting Our Future: RaceB4Race". Folger.edu. 2019. https://www.folger.edu/institute/scholarly-programs/race-periodization/margo-hendricks. 
  3. Hendricks, M. 1987. The Roaring Girls: A Study of Seventeenth Century Feminism and the Development of Feminist Drama. Ph.D. diss., University of California, Riverside.
  4. "Margo Jennett Hendricks G'90". ACLS.org. 2021. https://www.acls.org/research/fellow.aspx?cid=EDA0200E-EAA4-DB11-8D10-000C2903E717. 
  5. "Stanford Fellows". stanford.edu. 2021. https://shc.stanford.edu/people/current-centre-fellows/1990-1991. 
  6. "Margo Hendricks". uscs.edu. 2021. https://campusdirectory.uscs.edu/cd_detail?uid=margoh. 
  7. Grace, Elysabeth (2020). "About Me". elysabethgrace.com. https://www.elysabethgrace.com/about-me. 
  8. "Current Fellows". Folger.edu. 2021. https://www.folger.edu/institute/fellowships/current-fellows. 
  9. "A Raceb4Race Roundtable - Margo Hendricks - Protecting and Serving BIPOC voices in Academia". Youtube.com. <2019>. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf2RkvCdsbw. 
  10. Walsh, Bernadette (2019). "Interview with Elysabeth Grace". elysabethgrace.com. https://www.elysabethgrace.com/. 

ACMRS. “Protecting and Serving BIPOC voices in academia- A RaceB4Race Roundtable.” YouTube, 26 Sep. 2020.

Adams, Brandi K. “A harbinger of the much more to come: an (un)timely review of Women.” The Hare, no. 5.1, Sep. 2020.

Hendricks, Margo. “Race and Periodization Symposium: Margo Hendricks.” Folger Shakespeare Library, recorded lecture, Sep. 2019.

Hendricks, Margo. “Surveying ‘Race’ in Shakespeare.” Shakespeare and race, edited by Catherine Alexander & Stanley Wells, Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp. 1-23.

“Margo Hendricks.” Wikipedia, 2021.

RWA. “Recipients of the Academic Research Grant.” Romance Writers of America: The voice of romance writers, 2021.

“To Protect and to Serve: A RaceB4Race Roundtable.” Arizona Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Arizona State University, 23 Jul. 2020.

  1. Walsh, Bernadette (2019). "Interview with Elysabeth Grace". elysabethgrace.com.
  2. a b c d e "Margo Hendricks ⁠— Coloring the Past, Rewriting Our Future: RaceB4Race". Folger.edu. 2019. https://www.folger.edu/institute/scholarly-programs/race-periodization/margo-hendricks. 
  3. Hendricks, M. 1987. The Roaring Girls: A Study of Seventeenth Century Feminism and the Development of Feminist Drama. Ph.D. diss., University of California, Riverside.
  4. "Margo Jennett Hendricks G'90". ACLS.org. 2021. https://www.acls.org/research/fellow.aspx?cid=EDA0200E-EAA4-DB11-8D10-000C2903E717. 
  5. "Stanford Fellows". stanford.edu. 2021. https://shc.stanford.edu/people/current-centre-fellows/1990-1991. 
  6. "Margo Hendricks". uscs.edu. 2021. https://campusdirectory.uscs.edu/cd_detail?uid=margoh. 
  7. a b c Grace, Elysabeth (2020). "About Me". elysabethgrace.com. https://www.elysabethgrace.com/about-me. 
  8. "Current Fellows". Folger.edu. 2021. https://www.folger.edu/institute/fellowships/current-fellows. 
  9. "A Raceb4Race Roundtable - Margo Hendricks - Protecting and Serving BIPOC voices in Academia". Youtube.com. <2019>. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf2RkvCdsbw. 
  10. Walsh, Bernadette (2019). "Interview with Elysabeth Grace". elysabethgrace.com. https://www.elysabethgrace.com/.