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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While the torturers depicted in the paintings are condemned for their cruelty , they are nevertheless rendered useful by revealing the divinity within these Christian victims . As in Figure 1.1 , their bodies may be broken , but the ...
Stanmore and Blanford's reactions of horror , of course , are meant to reveal the baseness of the captain's belief in racial essentialism , and the play works to reveal how a belief in racial essentialism invites violence .
Not only does it serve to lessen anxieties about the English planters ' desire for Imoinda , but also it serves to reveal the hypocrisy of Oroonoko's essentialism . Far from merely reflecting the " culture " of the Restoration stage ...
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