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Look Inside English Ethnicity and Race in Early Modern Drama

English Ethnicity and Race in Early Modern Drama


  • Date Published: June 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521027311

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About the Authors
  • In English Ethnicity and Race in Early Modern Drama, first published in 2003, 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 laboured to reinvent ethnology to their own advantage - a labour 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.

    • Provides an entirely new way of understanding how ethnic and racial differences were conceived and perceived in the English Renaissance
    • Provides a startling new reading of Shakespeare's Othello
    • Argues that medical discourse, or humoralism, was primarily a mode of ethnology in early modern England
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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521027311
    • length: 272 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.409kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    Introduction: the marginal English
    Part I. Climatic Culture: The Transmissions and Transmutations of Ethnographic Knowlege:
    1. The ghost of Hippocrates: geohumoral history in the West
    2. British ethnology
    3. An inside story of race: melancholy and ethnology
    Part II. The English Ethnographic Theatre:
    4. Tamburlaine and the staging of white barbarity
    5. Temperature and temperance in Ben Jonson's The Masque of Blackness
    6. Othello's jealousy
    7. Cymbeline's angels

  • Author

    Mary Floyd-Wilson, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    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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