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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Likewise , although critics like Jean Marsden and Jonathan Bate have read Ravenscroft's rewrite in terms of the Popish Plot , few have analyzed the play in terms of the growing violence experienced in the British colonies .
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 ...
In fact , I wonder if the localization of these tendencies as American does not invite the creation of another form of " historical amnesia " : one that enables a larger , violent racializing mechanism to remain intact .
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