Ashley Williard's next book project, currently entitled Disruptive Minds: Madness in the Early French Atlantic, examines the ways mediated voices of the "mad" can expose unique sites of subjectivity that interrogate colonial power structures and archival silences. The period of study (c. 1660-1789) was pivotal for the rise of French imperialism, as well as new understandings and responses to mental disabilities. With a focus on individuals including enslaved men, exiled soldiers, creole wives, and manumitted women, the book represents a unique opportunity for interpreting how people negotiated, suffered under, and struggled against colonialism and slavery.
This project has been generously supported by internal grants (Office of the Vice President for Research ASPIRE-I.1, College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Research Travel Initiative) and external grants (American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, National Endowment for the Humanities).
"The NEH Summer Stipend will allow me to devote time to writing and conduct significant archival research in France during summer 2023. In the Archives Nationales d’Outre Mer, the primary holding place of French colonial documents, I will consult military files, official correspondence, and notary records. In archives in Nantes, the principal French port of the slave trade, I will examine links between the Caribbean and France."