portrait of Lynn Maxwell

I am currently an Assistant Professor at Spelman College teaching classes in Shakespeare, early modern literature, poetry, and composition. My interests include race, gender, and sexuality, the intersection of “new science” and literature, and questions of genre.

My current book project, Wax Works: Wax Impressions, Figures and Forms in Early Modern Literature and Culture recovers the role of wax as an important conceptual material used to work out the nature and limits of the early modern human. By surveying the use of wax in early modern cultural spaces such as the stage and the artist’s studio and in literary and philosophical texts, including those by William Shakespeare, John Donne, René Descartes, Margaret Cavendish, and Edmund Spenser, I show that when wax substitutes for bodies or models reproduction, memory, sense perception, or gender relations, it begins to reveal what it means to be a human enmeshed in the early modern world. At the same time, Wax Works takes up the possibility of an early modern posthumanism by examining the instability of categories such as human and nonhuman in early modern texts.

I have published an article related to this project in The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, and have a second article forthcoming in Criticism. I also have work forthcoming in an edited volume.

If you have any questions about any of the materials on this website or would like more information about my scholarship, please do not hesitate to contact me at lmaxwel2@spelman.edu.