I'm honored that the lead book review in this issue is Christian DuComb's treatment of Racial Innocence. DuComb writes,
In his essay "From Work to Text," Roland Barthes contends that true interdisciplinary scholarship is to be found not in books that challenge the limits of already constituted disciplines, but rather in books that define new objects of knowledge and introduce new methodologies, new ways of knowing. Racial Innocence is such a book. Through inspired analyses of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) and children's doll-play, Robin Bernstein reads nineteenth-century childhood innocence as "the performed transcendence of social categories of class, gender, and, most importantly . . . , race" (6). . . . To uncover the racializing force of childhood innocence, Bernstein moves nimbly through the sprawl of nineteenth-century popular culture in the United States, drawing evidence from visual, literary, material, and theatrical sources. Her impressive array of examples comes together through the new historical methodology that drives Racial Innocence: reading material artifacts as "scriptive things"—that is, as prompts for performance (8). Like a play text, a scriptive thing "deeply influences but does not entirely determine live performances, which vary according to agential individuals' visions, impulses, resistances, [and] revisions" (71). Reading material things as scripts for embodied behavior not only troubles Diana Taylor's famous distinction between the archive and the repertoire, but also leads Bernstein to fresh and astonishing conclusions about race, childhood, and US history.
Many thanks to Christian DuComb for this terrific review, and to Theatre Journal's book review editor, Julia Walker, for curating such a fantastic series that demonstrates the vibrancy of the field.