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Constructing Alternate Identities: Rhetoric and Fantasies of Blackness in Early Modernity

dc.creatorLindor, Willnide 2022
dc.description.abstractConstructing Alternate Identities unearths moments where early modern English writers engage with the Moorish identity to produce racially nonconforming identities via drama, lyric poetry, and travel literature. In early modern race studies, the Moorish identity is defined as multivalent––meaning that it mirrors the period’s competing vocabularies of discrimination and policies of prejudice ascribed to persons of African descent. However, these vocabularies and policies had not yet metastasized. Within the anti-blackness rhetoric of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries lies an emergent discourse that reveals how some early modern English writers esteemed blackness and engaged with its complexities amid disparaging travel accounts and histories. In this project, I examine how English writers such as Richard Jobson, George Herbert, and William Shakespeare––by way of eye-witness account, ventriloquism, and performance––provide representations of blackness that belie popular racist tropes of blackness. I argue that through the intersection of rhetoric and blackness, these writers provide literary legacies that acknowledge the Moorish identity as identifiable with a spectrum of identification available to English persons. Guided by a feminist, psychoanalytic, and postcolonial methodology, this project explores early modern concepts of racial and gendered difference by engaging with the contemporary work of Luce Irigaray, Audre Lorde, Sigmund Freud, Frantz Fanon, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Constructing Alternate Identities presents early modern England’s collusion with Africa through expansive literary visions of the Moorish identity.
dc.subjectpremodern race
dc.subjecttropes of blackness
dc.subjectvocabularies of difference
dc.subjectShakespearean drama
dc.subjectlyric poetry
dc.subjectearly modern travel accounts
dc.titleConstructing Alternate Identities: Rhetoric and Fantasies of Blackness in Early Modernity
dc.contributor.committeeMemberSchwarz , Kathryn
dc.contributor.committeeMemberEnterline, Lynn
dc.contributor.committeeMemberHock, Jessie
dc.contributor.committeeMemberCrawford, Katherine
dc.type.materialtext University Graduate School

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