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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)
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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
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    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

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    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.

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