English Ethnicity and Race in Early Modern Drama

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 20, 2003 - Drama - 256 pages
In English Ethnicity and Race in Early Modern Drama, Mary Floyd-Wilson outlines what we might call ‘scientific’ conceptions of racial and ethnic differences in sixteenth and seventeenth-century English writing. Drawing on classical and contemporary medical texts, histories, and cosmographies, Floyd-Wilson demonstrates that Renaissance understandings of racial and ethnic identities contradicted many modern stereotypes concerning difference. Southerners, Africans, in particular, were identified as dispassionate, cool-tempered, and wise, whereas the more northern English were understood to be unruly, impressionable, and slow-witted. Concerned with the unflattering and constraining implications of this classically-derived knowledge, English writers labored to reinvent ethnology to their own advantage - a labor that paved the way for the invention of more familiar racial ideas. Floyd-Wilson highlights these English revisionary efforts in her surprising and transformational readings of the period’s drama, including Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, Jonson’s The Masque of Blackness, and Shakespeare’s Othello and Cymbeline.

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Contents

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1
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21
III
23
IV
48
V
67
VI
87
VII
89
VIII
107
IX
111
X
132
XI
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XII
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XIII
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About the author (2003)

Mary Floyd-Wilson is Assistant Professor of English Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has published articles in several journals including English Literary Renaissance, Women's Studies, and South Atlantic Review and is a contributing author to British Identities and English Renaissance Literature (2002). She is currently co-editing a volume of essays entitled Reading the Early Modern Passions: A Cultural History of Emotion, University of Pennsylvania Press (forthcoming).

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