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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the king's innocent daughter in The Heir of Morocco , is not tortured , she is described by Gayland as having “ white Charms ” for hands ( 2.2 ) . One could read this in terms of the disappearing African woman in early modern narratives ...
In the same vein , Ravenscroft edits out the entire second scene of Shakespeare's third act ( the fly killing scene ) , in which Titus protests : O , handle not the theme to talk of hands , Lest we remember still that we have none .
The dominance and power of the white / right gaze can be challenged most effectively by exposing and de - naturalizing the hands , eyes , and agents behind racialized constructions . Despite the fact that his analysis actually serves to ...
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