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English Ethnicity and Race in Early Modern Drama
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  • 10 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 270 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.57 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 822/.309355
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: PR658.E88 F58 2003
  • LC Subject headings:
    • English drama--Early modern and Elizabethan, 1500-1600--History and criticism
    • Ethnicity in literature
    • English drama--17th century--History and criticism
    • Ethnic relations in literature
    • Race relations in literature

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521810562 | ISBN-10: 0521810566)

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


List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; 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; Notes; Index.

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