Name: Su Fang Ng

Department/School/Center: Department of English

Name of award/grant/ fellowship & dollar amount: NEH Summer Stipend, $6,000

Project summary: 

Ng’s book, “Brokering with Caliban: A Literary History of Early Modern English Diplomacy in the East Indies,” is a scholarly discussion of diplomatic thinking in literary texts that examines European diplomatic relations with "non-European Others." The project considers the global circulation of Renaissance literature — via global trade networks, scholars, religious networks, and embassies — and its impact on global literary traditions.

It explores literary allusions to Bantam and the East Indies in plays from Shakespeare to Dryden, often regarding diplomatic issues that arose form negotiated engagements with East Indies polities. It explores the literary writing of Bantam, and how East India Company voyages manifested in literary allusions as early as Ben Johnson’s “The Alchemist” in 1610. It also examines how such events contributed to the construction of race and international relations, and shaped literary representations of language, race, religion, and difference.

Why is this award important to you, Virginia Tech, and to CLAHS? 

"I’m honored to receive an NEH fellowship, in part because it recognizes the importance of the work of uncovering global interconnections in the early modern world. Personally, the fellowship represents an opportunity to focus on my research after the disruptions of the past few years. It allows me to extend my work on the global early modern period — an earlier book, 'Alexander the Great from Britain to Southeast Asia: Peripheral Empire in the Global Renaissance' won the Renaissance Society of America’s 2020 Gordan Prize for best book.

I have also tried to bring non-European voices into dialogue with European ones in my recently published 'Writing about Discovery in the Early Modern East Indies.' I hope this new project will bring new perspectives to familiar canonical authors such as Jonson and Shakespeare.

I think it is important for Virginia Tech to receive honors like this as we strive to become a comprehensive university as it becomes known for humanities as well as engineering programs. Since Virginia Tech and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences are involved in global initiatives celebrating work that goes beyond boundaries, this award recognizes the kind of work we value, crossing cultures, languages, and disciplines to shape a new, global view of our fields. "