Making Sex and Race on the Renaissance Stage

Autumn 2018-2019

20036

Ellen MacKay

This course examines some of the greatest hits of the non-Shakespearean repertoire to discuss the central role of the raced and sexed body on the Renaissance stage. We will put under special scrutiny the tendency of playwrights to dramatize for display virginity, pregnancy, and venereal disease as they intersect with a wide spectrum racial difference. Social, medical, and ecclesiastical history will be important to our discussions, but the aim of the course is to investigate the theatrical implications of this raced and sexed dramaturgy; in particular, we will consider how the plays of the Tudor-Stuart era that hinge on biological ‘facts’ call for exhibitions of anatomical proof that they would seem to be entirely incapable of mustering. Students should expect extensive (but lively) weekly reading assignments, preparation for which includes participation in a calendar of class responses; a presentation to the class of a self-selected primary text; and a culminating research essay. (Pre-1650, Drama)