First, of course, my dissertation committee members, who guided this work
before it knew what it was. Tim Watson—mentor extraordinaire and a
scholar who modeled for me how to create a project of conjunctions—was
my first and my steady port of call in Princeton. He read every word of
my essais with true kindness that was wondrously entangled with keen
correction and expansion. And he treated me, always, as if I knew what
I was doing. Tim also alerted me very early on to the Wolfenden Re-
port, which both sparked and grounded this project. Daphne Brooks—
expansive and elegant enough to enfold me before I even knew what per-
formance would mean to this book; deep and full with learning, style,
energy, fire, who asked me, and continues to help me answer, how to
bring myself more forcefully into the work. As I revised from disserta-
tion to book, Daphne told me about a reference in Nathaniel Mackey’s
essays to Burning Spear, which transformed the ending of this project.
And Simon Gikandi, of whose work I was an undergraduate fan, and
whose formation as a postcolonial student, British postgraduate, and
American PhD I echoed in my own trajectory—I felt much less like a
geographical- postcolonial weirdo in his wake. He remains, ever, an inspi-
ration for capacity, elegance, and cool under pressure. I thank him as well
for drawing my attention to C. L. R. James’s letters to Willard Thorpe and
Arthur Schlesinger Jr., as well as to the telling discrepancy between the
first and second editions of James’s Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways.
The messier, more affect- filled James I was looking for came alive in these
I thank the teachers who turned me on to learning and made academia
seem the most exciting, challenging, and pleasurable enterprise in the
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