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Performing Blackness on English Stages, 1500-1800
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Table of Contents

1. Preliminaries; 2. Patterns of blackness; 3. Talking devils; 4. Kings and queens; 5. Bedtricksters; 6. Shakespeare's Moor of Venice; 7. Europeans disguised as Moors; 8. Avenging villains; 9. Royal slaves; Afterthoughts.

Promotional Information

An unusual study of the tradition of blackface in stage performance.

About the Author

Virginia Mason Vaughan is Professor of English at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Reviews

Review of the hardback: 'Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.' Choice
Review of the hardback: 'Performing Blackness is a welcome remedy to the relative neglect of English theatrical representations of black skin. ... is it not possible for a black actor to perform the part of Othello in a manner that resists racialist assumptions? ... this book addresses important issues about the performative nature of blackness and racial representation on the early English stage.' Theatre Survey
Review of the hardback: '... the gradual increase of the black population in London over the period covered by the book, ... is correlated with a steady 'humanising' of black stage characters, but also with an increasing frequency of themes dealing with anxiety regarding miscegenation. ... an illuminating survey of the development of theatrical conventions and cultural attitudes which will be pertinent to anybody interested in early modern conceptions of race.' Notes and Queries
Review of the hardback: '... why, just as chattel slavery takes hold in the colonies, does Restoration theater increasingly depict more humanized Moorish characters in adaptations like Ravenscroft's 1678 production of Titus Andronicus and Behn's 1676 production of Abdelazer: The Moor's Revenge? ... [This] book invites us to consider ... earlier forms and manifestations and suggests that we still have much to learn about the history of the category of race.' Journal of British Studies
Review of the hardback: '... [Vaughan] is to be congratulated for her brevity and clarity, and her audience of intellectual and religious historians should benefit from reading this book.' Sixteenth Century Journal
'Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.' Choice
"Her examination of a crucial and contentious aspect of performance politics challenges critical assumptions about Renaissance racism and modern mores." - Theater Research International
"Vaughan's, meanwhile, can be recommended to anyone as examples of the kind of historically informed thematic criticism that can help us better understand how history can help shape plays while also being shaped by them." - Comparative Drama
"...engaging, exciting, and demanding" - Renaissance Quarterly
"Performing Blackness is a welcome remedy to the relative neglect of English theatrical representations of black skin...this book addresses important issues about the performative nature of blackness and racial representation on the early English stage." - Felicity A. Nussbaum, University of California, Los Angeles
"...an illuminating survey of the development of theatrical conventions and cultural attitudes which will be pertinent to anybody interested in early modern conceptions of race." - Andrew Duxfield, Sheffield Hallam University
"Vaughan seems to agree that early modern conceptions of race were distinct from their modern incarnations. Her book invites us to consider its earlier forms and manifestations and suggest that we still have much to learn about the history of the category of race." - Jean Feerick, Brown University
"Performing Blackness is an accessible survey of the use of black paint on the English stage and a provocative contribution to current debates on racially marked casting and performance." - Mary Floyd-Wilson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"Vaughan's book is a very good introduction to the study of race in early modern English theatre as well as a wonderful resource for those more familiar with the field...Vaughan's study should prove to be one of the most informed, suggestive, and comprehensive studies of black personas on the early modern stage." - Arthur L. Little Jr, Early Theater
"Because this discussion is more thorough than anything else to date, I have no doubt it will be used as a teaching aid in many classrooms." --Ayanna Thompson, Arizona State University: Renaissance Quarterly Review

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