Date of Award
W. S. Howard, Ph.D.
Jonathan Sciarcon, Ph.D.
Blackness, Gender, Poetic geography, Race, Religion, Shakespeare
This project is a study of the development of early modern racial categories in England - focusing on religion and skin color as primary modes of demarcation interwoven with other prevalent categories of language, ancestry/blood, nationality, and gender - as illuminated in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice and Othello. Religion and skin color, then, are the primary modes of racializing individuals in early modern England and characters in Shakespeare's works. This essay studies the context of racial difference as present in English and European rhetoric, art, theater, and exploration. Given this context, the paper explores the poetic geography of Venice as present in the economic ramifications of the term "bond" in both Merchant and Othello. It then investigates English imperial desires alongside fears of invasion and miscegenation. Alongside these topics, the project addresses "ocular proof" which serves as a cultural methodology for demonstrating racial hierarchies. Shakespeare questions this technique by illustrating the flaws of visual evidence.
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Cooper, Edward A., ""Ocular Proof": Race, Religion, and Gender in The Merchant of Venice and Othello" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1571.
Received from ProQuest
Edward A Cooper
Literature, History, Black studies