Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage
Routledge, 2008 - 174
Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage provides the first sustained reading of Restoration plays through a performance theory lens. This approach shows that an analysis of the conjoined performances of torture and race not only reveals the early modern interest in the nature of racial identity, but also how race was initially coded in a paradoxical fashion as both essentially fixed and socially constructed. An examination of scenes of torture provides the most effective way to unearth these seemingly contradictory representations of race because depictions of torture often interrogate the incongruous desire to substitute the visible and manipulable materiality of the body for the more illusive performative nature of identity. In turn, Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage challenges the long-standing assumption that early modern conceptions of race were radically different in their fluidity from post-Enlightenment ones by demonstrating how many of the debates we continue to have about the nature of racial identity were engendered by these seventeenth-century performances.
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Dryden writes : Under your Patronage Montezuma hopes he is more safe than in his Native Indies : and therefore comes to throw himself at your Graces feet ; paying that homage to your Beauty , which he refus'd to the violence of his ...
of this New World , Dryden makes “ his story , ” Montezuma's play , seem self - propelled and self - revealing . Once again , the heroism of the Spanish conquest is called into question before the heroic tragedy has even begun .
After all , Cortez does come to rescue Montezuma from the rack . An argument for Cortez's heroism and exceptionalism , however , ignores the way this scene of torture is highlighted performatively in the play .
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