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Containing an urgently needed archival database of historical evidence, this volume includes both a consolidated presentation of the documentary records of black people in Tudor and Stuart England, and an interpretive narrative that confirms and significantly extends the insights of current theoretical excursus on race in early modern England.
Here for the first time Imtiaz Habib collects the scattered references to black people-whether from Africa, India or America-in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, and arranges them into a systematic, chronological descriptive index.
He offers an extended historical and theoretical interpretation of the records in six chapters, which serve as an introductory guide to the index even as they articulate a specific argument about the meaning of the records.
Both the archival information and interpretive scholarship provide a strong framework from which future historical debates on race in early modern England can proceed.
Anthony Barthelemy considers the influence of English political, social, and theatrical history on the depiction of black characters on the English stage from 1589 to 1695.
He shows that almost without exception blackness was associated with treachery, evil, and ugliness.
Barthelemy's central focus is on black characters that appeared in mimetic drama, but he also examines two nonmimetic subgenres: court masques and lord mayors' pageants.
The most common black character was the villainous Moor. Known for his unbridled libido and criminal behavior, the Moor was, Barthelemy contends, the progenitor of the stereotypical black in today's world.
To account for the historical development of his character, Barthelemy provides an extended etymological study of the word Moor and a discussion of the received tradition that made blackness a signifier of evil and sin.
In analyzing the theatrical origins of the Moor, Barthelemy discusses the medieval dramatic tradition in England that portrayed the devil and the damned as black men.
Variations of the stereotype, the honest Moor and the Moorish waiting woman, are also examined.
In addition to black characters, Barthelemy considers Native Americans and white North Africans because they were also called Moors.
Analyzing how nonblack, non-Christian men were characterized provides an opportunity to understand how important blackness was in the depiction of Africans.
Black Victorians/Black Victoriana is a welcome attempt to correct the historical record.
Although scholarship has given us a clear view of nineteenth-century imperialism, colonialism, and later immigration from the colonies, there has for far too long been a gap in our understanding of the lives of blacks in Victorian England.
Without that understanding, it remains impossible to assess adequately the state of the black population in Britain today. Using a transatlantic lens, the contributors to this book restore black Victorians to the British national picture.
They look not just at the ways blacks were represented in popular culture but also at their lives as they experienced them—as workers, travelers, lecturers, performers, and professionals. Dozens of period photographs bring these stories alive and literally give a face to the individual stories the book tells.
The essays taken as a whole also highlight prevailing Victorian attitudes toward race by focusing on the ways in which empire building spawned a "subculture of blackness" consisting of caricature, exhibition, representation, and scientific racism absorbed by society at large.
This misrepresentation made it difficult to be both black and British while at the same time it helped to construct British identity as a whole. Covering many topics that detail the life of blacks during this period, Black Victorians/Black Victoriana will be a landmark contribution to the emergent field of black history in England.
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