RaceB4Race First Book Institute

There is a glaring need to support early career premodern critical race scholars through the process of publishing their first book, a critical juncture in an academic career. Premodern critical race studies remains under-acknowledged and underrepresented in scholarly publishing. In order to ensure that this vital scholarship is made available, the RaceB4Race First Book Institute will provide early career scholars with the opportunity to focus on their monograph project with a group of invested scholars and an expert institute leader. 

Participants will meet twice monthly to discuss and workshop their writing, and will participate in professional development opportunities organized by the institute leader.  

The RaceB4Race First and Second Book Institutes are part of the fully virtual RaceB4Race Mentorship Network, a Mellon-funded initiative based at the Folger Shakespeare Library and directed by Patricia Akhimie.  

2024 First Book Institute

This year’s First Book Institute leader is Cord J. Whitaker. 

Cord J. Whitaker is Associate Professor of English at Wellesley. He writes and teaches on Chaucer, medieval romance, the historical development of race, black and African American medievalism in modernity, and the political afterlives of the Middle Ages. He is the author of Black Metaphors: How Modern Racism Emerged from Medieval Race-Thinking (2019). He is currently writing books on Harlem Renaissance writers' strategic political uses of the Middle Ages and on the intimate relationship between fascism and antiblack racism in the U.S. Whitaker has edited special issues on race and the Middle Ages in postmedieval and Speculum. His essays on race, literature, the Middle Ages, and politics have appeared in venues as varied as PMLA and Politico. In addition to his antiracist activist and administrative work in medieval studies and at Wellesley, he has served on the editorial boards of Speculum, Exemplaria, and PMLA. 


  • The First Book Institute runs from February through June each year. 
  • All participation in the First Book Institute will be virtual via Zoom. 
  • Scholars working in premodern critical race studies who hold a PhD and are in the process of writing their first book (whether a revised and expanded dissertation or other project) are invited to apply, regardless of what stage in the project they are in. 


  • Make progress on the writing of a first book, starting from any stage 
  • Discuss what is unique about the first book, and how it differs from a dissertation  
  • Discuss publishers’ expectations of a first book project
  • Discuss the unique challenges of writing a first book at a busy stage of professional life, and explore strategies for meeting those challenges  


  • Attendance at all Institute sessions 
  • Faithfully reading the work of fellow members of the Institute and being prepared to discuss it in a constructive manner 
  • Writing and presenting a book proposal, chapter, or part of a chapter, at one of the Institute sessions 

How to apply

We are currently accepting applications for the RaceB4Race First Book Institute. Applications are due by November 30, 2023 at 11:59 pm MST.

  • Please use the application platform to submit a description of your book project of 500 words or less, a sample chapter, and a brief letter describing the progress you have made on the project to date. 
  • Please feel free to contact raceb4race@asu.edu with any questions.

Apply now