It hit me that when I uploaded my dissertation to Emory’s thesis and dissertation database a month ago (and had it embargoed) no one would have the change to read the part that I don’t want to have embargoed. And so, I figured that I would reproduce it here. I’ve got nothing to hide and I spent a lot of time and edits on this. The folks I’ve identified here, and even some that I haven’t, mean a lot to me and have contributed in immeasurable ways to my academic and personal development. I had a much longer version where I wax poetic about some of these individuals but this is the more svelte one I submitted. So, without further ado, here it is:
I could never begin to quantify the amount of support and encouragement I’ve gotten throughout the process of completing this dissertation. I’m thankful for the village that reminds me that this labor is not in vain and assures me that this tunnel ends with light. In honoring the village, I praise God, who orchestrated this community of care from the beginning. He has meticulously placed people in my life who have been willing to pour into me so that I can, in turn, flow into others. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a stream and not a lake.
I am grateful to my dissertation chair and advisor, Dr. Patricia Cahill, and my committee members, Drs. Sander Gilman, Ross Knecht, and Arthur Little, Jr. Each of them added an abundance of expertise and clarity to the dissertation’s scope and argument, and have helped to mold the way I now view and position myself within the complex world of academia. I am also indebted to the mentorship and sponsorship I’ve received from individuals who have impacted my work and my teaching in transformative ways. Such people at Emory include Drs. Michelle Gordon, Laura Otis, Dave Fisher, Harry Rusche, Jonathan Goldberg, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Karen Stolley, Michelle Wright, Valerie Babb, Andra Gillespie, and especially Sheila Cavanagh. There are others beyond Emory, who, too, have made it their business to invest time in my scholarly growth. These include my mentors at the University of Houston, who planted seeds when this project was incubating: Drs. Natalie Houston, Jamie Ferguson, Wyman Herendeen, Lawrence Hogue, John Roberts, Karen Fang, and John McNamara. These also include a constellation of scholars who’ve encouraged me through the completion of this project: Drs. Kim Hall, Allison Hobgood, Ayanna Thompson, Joyce MacDonald, David Sterling Brown, Arthur Little, Kyle Grady, John Ray Proctor, Patricia Akhimie, Noémie Ndiaye, Sujata Iyengar, Margo Hendricks, Dennis Britton, Reggie Wilburn, Michael Whitmore, Kathryn Vomero Santos, Lindsey Row-Heyveld, Susan Anderson, Katherine Williams, and Jeffrey Cohen. I also want to extend my most sincere gratitude to my Morehouse College family, which includes Drs. Stephane Dunn, Alison Ligon, David Morrow, and especially Sonya Loftis, who was my first mentor in the field of Shakespeare studies.
This project would not have been possible without the continual support of peers, colleagues, and friends. These include my brilliant graduate cohort: Palak Taneja, Alyssa Duck Glen, Amy Li, Madison Elkins, Stephanie Larson, Olivia Eljaiek-Hendricks, Aruni Mahapatra, and Rebecca Gunderman-McGlynn; and mentees Kayla Shipp Kamibayashi, Kelly Duquette, John Gulledge, and Lauren Highsmith. From exchanging chapter drafts to attending conferences to agreeing to host panels, these new friends have walked with me along this arduous journey: Jessica Horvath Williams, Palak Taneja, Julian Whitney, Rae Hunter, Zae Higgins, Morgan Barham, Joi Orr, Endia Hayes, Lindsey Grubbs, Joshua Cohen, Jenny Bledsoe, Magana Kabugi, Lauren Highsmith, and Shaunesse Jacobs. Finally, I’ve been fortunate to have such tremendous support from Emory administrators who’ve gone out of their way to sponsor my work: Ocean Eerie, Damon Williams, Drs. Amanda James, Ben Reiss, Jim Morey, and Paul Kelleher.
My research has been supported by institutions that have celebrated and funded my scholarship in all forms. These institutions and their staff have fundamentally shaped the scope of my project and my profile as an academic. These include the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference; the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript and Rare Book Library at Emory; the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship; the Michael C. Carlos Museum; the Laney EDGE Diversity Office; the Folger Institute; the British Library in London and Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.; the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Arizona State University; the South-Central Renaissance Conference in Texas; and the Shakespeare Association of America.
Finally, I want to offer my most abundant gratitude to my extended community beyond the world of academia. This group includes two of my closest friends, Chancellor and Harold, as well as the staff at The Corner Cup, my neighborhood coffeehouse, where a smile and an empty table are always waiting for me. This also includes my extended church family, the Tucker Small Group, and my incredible therapist and life coach, who has been a constant and consistent presence in my life for the past few years.
Last but certainly not least, I thank my family: my mom, my grandmother, my brother, my stepfather, and my entire extended family. I appreciate their questions, their check-ins, their thoughtful cards, their open ears, and warm hearts throughout this entire process. I love them and honor them, and will always cherish how they’ve always reminded me how much life matters. They’ve demonstrated that regardless of how this graduate school/dissertation thing plays out, good food, laughter, home, and the blessing of Selah are never too far from reach.
From the totality of my heart, I offer my sincerest thanks. The words that follow are as much yours as they are mine.
— Dr. Justin P. Shaw