Skip to content

All SAP systems will be unavailable on Saturday 10th December 2022 from 0800-1800 UK Time.

If you can’t place an order, please contact Customer Services to complete your order.

UK/ROW +44 (0) 1223 326050 | US 1 800 872 7423 or 1 212 337 5000 | Australia/New Zealand 61 3 86711400 or 1800 005 210, New Zealand 0800 023 520

Register Sign in Wishlist

Reading and the History of Race in the Renaissance

$34.99 (C)

  • Date Published: November 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107463370

$ 34.99 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

This title is not currently available for examination. However, if you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Elizabeth Spiller studies how early modern attitudes toward race were connected to assumptions about the relationship between the act of reading and the nature of physical identity. As reading was understood to happen in and to the body, what you read could change who you were. In a world in which learning about the world and its human boundaries came increasingly through reading, one place where histories of race and histories of books intersect is in the minds and bodies of readers. Bringing together ethnic studies, book history, and historical phenomenology, this book provides a detailed case study of printed romances and works by Montalvo, Heliodorus, Amyot, Ariosto, Tasso, Munday, Cervantes, Burton, Sidney, and Wroth. Reading and the History of Race traces ways in which print culture, and the reading practices it encouraged, contributed to shifting understandings of racial and ethnic identity.

    • Argues that early modern readers understood reading to be something that happened in and to the body, providing a historical counterpoint to evolving contemporary understandings of the process of reading
    • Considers how Renaissance readers understood race and ethnic identity as well as how those attitudes were formed and disseminated through printed texts, such as those by Montalvo, Burton and Sidney
    • Provides a wide-ranging case study of the literary genre of Romance that dominated secular writing in England and across Europe for almost two hundred years
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Elizabeth Spiller’s Reading and the History of Race in the Renaissance is an invaluable resource in the study of Renaissance and early Modern romance. A balanced and engaging exploration of the centrifugal force that race had on the ideological and thematic narratives shaping the romance genre, Spiller’s analysis illuminates the racial imperatives that shaped the generic development of the romance tradition in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.This study offers an innovative frame for rethinking early modern romance reading practices and racial identification. This is an admirable contribution to the field."
    -Margo Hendricks, University of California, Santa Cruz

    “Elizabeth Spiller’s Reading and the History of Race in the Renaissance is dazzling in scope and approach. Critically innovative, the book unites the seemingly disparate fields of book history and critical race studies. Yet, Spiller demonstrates just how palpably connected the Romance form and racialized identity formations were. The study re-historicizes the notion of the encounter as a text-based and embodied experience, and is sure to change the trajectory of early modern race studies.”
    -Ayanna Thompson, Arizona State University

    "Reading and the History of Race in the Renaissance offers both a significant and a generative contribution to Renaissance studies; Spiller’s incisive analysis and novel methodological approach offer a nuanced and innovative framework for exploring and rethinking the ideological imperatives that shaped and informed Renaissance narratives of race."
    -Louise Denmead,University College Cork

    "The volume itself is appropriately well-produced, crisply printed, and accurately edited. Finally, it is a pleasure to read Spiller’s prose: in parts the book reads as compellingly as the romances it analyzes. The experience of reading the book changes our understanding of both early modern race and reading, just as, Spiller convinces us, does the reading of romance."
    --Renaissance Quarterly

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107463370
    • length: 264 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.36kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: print culture, the humoral reader, and the racialized body
    1. Genealogy and race in post-Constantinople Romance: from The King of Tars to Tirant lo Blanc and Amadís de Gaula
    2. The form and matter of race: Heliodorus' Aethiopika, hylomorphism, and neo-Aristotelian readers
    3. The conversion of the reader: Ariosto, Herberay, Munday, and Cervantes
    4. Pamphilia's black humor: reading and racial melancholy in the Urania.

  • Author

    Elizabeth Spiller, Florida State University
    Elizabeth Spiller is Professor of English and Director of the History of Text Technologies Program, Florida State University. She is the author of Science, Reading and Renaissance Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and editor of the two-volume Seventeenth-Century English Recipe Books (2008). She has been awarded fellowships from the NEH, the Fulbright and the Mellon foundations, and her article 'Situating Prospero's Art: Shakespeare and the Making of Early Modern Knowledge', which appeared in the South Central Review, was awarded the Kirby Prize by the SCMLA for the best article of 2009. Her work has been published in such journals as Renaissance Quarterly, Studies in English Literature, Modern Language Quarterly and Renaissance Drama.

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.