Anti-Black Racism in Early Modern English Drama: The Other “Other” 9781315559544

This is the first book to deploy the methods and ensemble of questions from Afro-pessimism to engage and interrogate the

406 84 2MB

English Pages 212 [213] Year 2017

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD FILE

Polecaj historie

Anti-Black Racism in Early Modern English Drama: The Other “Other”
 9781315559544

Table of contents :
Cover......Page 1
Half Title......Page 2
Title Page......Page 4
Copyright Page......Page 5
Contents......Page 6
List of Figures......Page 8
Acknowledgments......Page 10
Introduction: “There Were No Black People in England…”......Page 14
1 Staging Blackness: The Incapacity for Interlocution......Page 46
2 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much”: Racial Discourse Separating Moors from Blacks in Early Modern England......Page 80
3 Othello Is a White Man: The Subjectivity of the Other in Othello......Page 119
4 Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves: Comparing the Descriptions of North Americans and Africans in the Narratives of John Hawkins and William Davenant’s The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru......Page 138
5 Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society......Page 169
Afterword......Page 195
Bibliography......Page 198
Index......Page 210

Citation preview

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Anti-Black Racism in Early Modern English Drama

This is the first book to deploy the methods and ensemble of questions from Afro-Pessimism to engage and interrogate the methods of Early Modern English studies. Using contemporary Afro-pessimist theories to provide a foundation for structural analyses of race in the Early Modern Period, it engages the arguments for race as a fluid construction of human identity by addressing how race in Early Modern England functioned not only as a marker of human identity, but also as an a priori constituent of human subjectivity. Chapman argues that blackness is the marker of social death that allows for constructions of human identity to become transmutable based on the impossibility of recognition and incorporation for Blackness into humanity. Using dramatic texts such as Othello, Titus Andronicus, and other Early Modern English plays both popular and lesser known, the book shifts the binary away from the currently accepted standard of white/ non-white that defines “otherness” in the period and examines race in Early Modern England from the prospective of a non-black/black antagonism. Matthieu Chapman is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Central Washington University.

Routledge Studies in Renaissance Literature and Culture

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

For a full list of titles in this series, please visit www.routledge.com

25 Blood and Home in Early Modern Drama Domestic Identity on the Renaissance Stage Ariane M. Balizet 26 Bodies, Speech, and Reproductive Knowledge in Early Modern England Sara D. Luttfring 27 Rethinking the Mind-Body Relationship in Early Modern Literature, Philosophy and Medicine The Renaissance of the Body Charis Charalampous 28 Sexuality and Memory in Early Modern England Literature and the Erotics of Recollection Edited by John S. Garrison and Kyle Pivetti 29 Early Modern Constructions of Europe Literature, Culture, History Edited by Florian Kläger and Gerd Bayer 30 Imagining Arcadia in Renaissance Romance Marsha S. Collins 31 Male-to-Female Crossdressing in Early Modern English Literature Gender, Performance, and Queer Relations Simone Chess 32 The Renaissance and the Postmodern A Study in Comparative Critical Values Thomas L. Martin and Duke Pesta 33 Enchantment and Dis-enchantment in Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama Wonder, the Sacred, and the Supernatural Edited by Nandini Das and Nick Davis 34 Anti-Black Racism in Early Modern English Drama The Other “Other” Matthieu Chapman

Anti-Black Racism in Early Modern English Drama Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

The Other “Other”

Matthieu Chapman

First published 2017 by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2017 Taylor & Francis The right of Matthieu Chapman to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Chapman, Matthieu, 1984– author. Title: Anti-black racism in early modern English drama: the other “other” / By Matthieu Chapman. Description: New York: Routledge, 2016. | Series: Routledge studies in Renaissance literature and culture; 33 | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016030422 (print) | LCCN 2016045277 Subjects: LCSH: Racism in literature. | English drama—Early modern and Elizabethan, 1500–1600—History and criticism. | Africans in literature. | Blacks in literature. Classification: LCC PR658.R34 C53 2016 (print) | LCC PR658.R34 (ebook) | DDC 822/.309896—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016030422 ISBN: 978-1-138-67738-8 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-55954-4 (ebk) Typeset in Sabon by codeMantra

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Contents

List of Figures Acknowledgments Introduction: “There Were No Black People in England…”

vii ix 1

1

Staging Blackness: The Incapacity for Interlocution

33

2

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much”: Racial Discourse Separating Moors from Blacks in Early Modern England

67

3 4

5

Othello Is a White Man: The Subjectivity of the Other in Othello

106

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves: Comparing the Descriptions of North Americans and Africans in the Narratives of John Hawkins and William Davenant’s The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru

125

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

156

Afterword

182

Bibliography Index

185 197

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

This page intentionally left blank

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

List of Figures

1.1 Portrait of Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth by Pierre Mignard. Oil on canvas, 1682. 47 1/2 in. × 37 1/2 in. (1207 mm × 953 mm). Image courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London. 1.2 Mary (Somerset), Duchess of Ormonde by and published by John Smith, after Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt mezzotint, 1702. 16 3/4 in. × 10 5/8 in. (424 mm × 270 mm). Image courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London. 1.3 Frederick Armand de Schomberg, 1st Duke of Schomberg, published by John Smith, after Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt mezzotint, 1689 (circa 1689). 15 in. × 10 1/4 in. (382 mm × 260 mm) plate size; 16 5/8 in. × 11 5/8 in. (423 mm × 295 mm). Image courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London. 1.4 Anonymous portrait of Peregrine Bertie, Lord Willoughby d’Eresby (1555–1601). Image courtesy the Trustees of the Grimsthorpe and Drummond Castle Trust; photograph, Courtald Institute of Art.

57

58

59

61

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

This page intentionally left blank

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Acknowledgments

I never thought I would write a book. Even once my interest in theory and scholarship was cultivated, I never thought I would write a book. Once I began to produce the manuscript for the dissertation that would eventually become this work, I never truly understood the scope and magnitude of writing a book. I am incredibly lucky, however, to have been surrounded by many in my personal, academic, and professional lives who did understand the scope and magnitude and were willing to guide, push, and pull me through the process. I never anticipated the sheer number of people without whom this book would not have been possible. I hope I do not leave anyone out. This section is for those without whose interventions and assistance, whether personally or professionally, this book would not have been possible. First and foremost, I want to thank my family. My beautiful wife, Steph, who decided to marry me even though I was already married to my work. She is a big part of the reason this completed book is here before you. My father, Darrell Chapman, who even though he may not fully understand the rigors of graduate study and academic life, was constantly supportive and always let me know how proud he was of me. My mother-in-law and father-in-law, Chris Mlot and Ken Kelly, who have so graciously and selflessly helped to ease the financial burdens associated with a life of the mind. Finally, my dogs Trinity and Pearl, whose cuteness is the greatest stress reliever of all. I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to the committee from University of California (UC) San Diego and UC Irvine with whom I have had the privilege of being guided and mentored by. First, I would like to thank Dr. Frank B. Wilderson III, who has been a source of constant inspiration and intimidation, and I mean those both in the best of ways. It was his brilliance and his seminars that helped me realize how far I had to go when I began, and it was his mentoring that helped me get there. John Rouse has perhaps played the largest role in shaping me as a teacher and has provided wonderful advice as both a scholar and professor. Ian Munro came aboard this project despite having never met me before his engagement with the project, but his belief in my proposal and my work has aided my belief in my work, and he has been instrumental to the process since. And finally, Patrick

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

x Acknowledgments Anderson, who has challenged me to expand my horizons and incorporate fields and ideas I never would have considered on my own. I would like to extend a special thank you to my dissertation committee chair, friend, and mentor, Dr. Janet Smarr, without whom, and I say this with absolute sincerity, this book would not be in front of you. I am truly a lucky soul to have been blessed with someone so generous with her time and energy. The constant challenges she presented are a large part of both who I am and the work I do. There is not a word in this volume that she has not had a hand in crafting, revising, and editing. There is not a part of my life, as a student, teacher, scholar, and theorist that she has not had a hand in crafting, editing, and revising. She was instrumental in turning my thoughts into a dissertation, and once I graduated, she was instrumental in turning the dissertation into this book. I would like to extend a special thank you to Dr. Stanley Chodorow, who was also instrumental in the conversion of my dissertation into this book. He generously gave hours, days, and weeks of his time to challenge every assumption, counter every argument, and question every word of the manuscript, and the book is much stronger because of him. I would like to extend special thanks and sincerest gratitude to Marybeth Ward, the UC San Diego Graduate Coordinator, without whom I would not have survived my doctoral program. The number of times she reduced mountains to molehills for me will never be forgotten. Her phone is a magic wand that opens doors, changes minds, and makes problems disappear. I would also like to thank the scholars, artists, mentors, professors, and friends who have helped me along the way, from San Diego, CA, to Staunton, VA, and back again. First among these is Professor Peter James Cirino of San Diego State University, who gave me my first opportunity in the theater. He literally dragged me off the street and put me on the stage. Thank you also Carolyn Keith, Peter Larlham, and Donald Hopkins, who constantly pushed me and encouraged me to enter into graduate studies in theater. Thank you to Randy Reinholz, Loren Schrieber, Margaret Larlham, Bonnie Anderson, Maggie McKerrow, and all the other faculty of the San Diego State University department of Theatre, Television, and Film for providing me with a foundation and a passion for the theatre. I would also like to thank the graduate faculty at Mary Baldwin University and the American Shakespeare Center’s Master of Letter and Master of Fine Arts program in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance. Thank you to Paul Menzer and Mary Hill Cole, my committee on my Master’s thesis, Playing Darkness: Reexamining the Appearance of Blacks on the Early Modern Stage, for helping me to grow as a scholar and for kindling my interest in race in the renaissance. Thank you to Jaq Bessell, James Keegan, Rob Clare, John Paul Scheidler, and Colleen Kelly. Finally, thank you to Jim Warren and Ralph Alan Cohen, for founding the Blackfriars Theatre and putting me on its stage.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Acknowledgments

xi

I would also like to thank my friends and colleagues at San Diego State, Mary Baldwin College, and UC San Diego who have helped me along the way. Particularly, I would like to thank my former roommates Scott Price and Gabriel Lawrence, who have seen me at my worst and for some reason still talk to me. I would also like to thank Victoria Reinsel, Justin Schneider, Mollie Reznick, Lauren Mignogno, Kim Brigner, Julie Burelle, Melissa Menifee, Lily Kelting, Jason Dorwart, Naysan Mojgani, Heather Ramey, Sonia Fernandez, Carole Samuelson, Leilani Edwards, Adam Schwartz, Rohit Puri, Jeremy Musser, Amy Blatt, Sierra Young, Steve Click, Kymm Hansen, Kerstin Porter, Kiyoshi Sato, and all the others who have laughed with me, cried with me, screamed at me, got screamed at, and eventually remained at the end. You all played a part in this, and I wouldn’t be here without you. I would also like to thank those who have allowed me to reprint materials and images. Some of the material in Chapter Three of this book was first published as “An Argument for Slavery in Robert Greene’s Orlando Furioso” in Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, Volume 29, September 2016. I would also like to thank the Trustees of the Grimsthorpe and Drummond Castle Trust Limited and the National Portrait Gallery of London for the use of images. I would also like to thank the MIT Shakespeare (Shakespeare. mit.edu). And finally, I would like to thank those involved with the finishing touches and production of this book. I would like to thank my editors at Routledge Press: Elizabeth Levine, who believed in this project enough to fight for its publication, and Erin Little and Nicole Eno, who held my hand through the submission and production process. Lastly, I would like to thank my indexer, David Prout, who went above and beyond his duties as an indexer by not just compiling a wonderful index, but by offering feedback and corrections throughout the text. Thank you.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

This page intentionally left blank

Introduction

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“There Were No Black People in England…”

These seven words are the impetus behind this entire project. It was 2007, and I was attending my first academic conference. I was surrounded by promising graduate students and established scholars who shared my interest in Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, and I was both excited and nervous to engage in intelligent conversations about our work. What I soon found, however, was that my interests in black people in Early Modern England were often dismissed, even by notable scholars whose work I greatly admired, with the above quote. While people offered other responses, such as “all black people were slaves at the time,” which greatly downplayed the role of blacks in constructions of cultural identity, “There were no black people in England during Elizabeth’s reign” became the most common refrain with which I was confronted. I was perplexed by how such an assertion could be made in the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I found myself both rationalizing and condemning the assertion, criticizing both myself and those who gave these responses. Perhaps I was not presenting my ideas clearly enough? Perhaps the people to whom I spoke were simply misunderstanding what I meant, assuming that I was conflating contemporary notions of blacks in America with notions of blacks in England? Perhaps they were willfully ignorant of the presence and impact of blacks in Early Modern England, ignoring the works of scholars such as Virginia Mason Vaughan, Kim Hall, and Imtiaz Habib? Were they unaware of Queen Elizabeth’s edicts concerning the black population and the origins of the slave trade? Did they never question how characters such as Aaron and Othello made their way into English drama? The continual denial of a black presence in England from this community prompted many questions: Did I just run into numerous individuals who felt this way, or was this denial part of a larger blindness? Why were they so quick to dismiss the possibility? Who stands to gain from perpetuating this dismissive attitude? Perhaps they simply misinterpreted my intentions (or perhaps I misrepresented them), choosing to focus on the presence of black bodies in England rather than on the perception of black bodies and blackness in England. Essentially, I wanted to know why this group of obviously enlightened and intelligent individuals seemed unwilling to engage this topic.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

2

Introduction

As I delved further into my studies, I began to reassess this moment and the aversion I encountered. Reading through the discourse of the period and the later scholarly critiques of that discourse, I began to understand the nearly impossible-to-navigate network of intersecting notions of blackness, race, gender, nation, religion, and numerous other categories of difference that informed notions of blackness in the period. I imagined myself as someone deeply entrenched in the field of Early Modern studies but only tangentially familiar with the complex internal and external workings of blackness, and found myself wanting to avoid engaging in a discussion in which it would be nearly impossible to articulate the complexity of the question I  was asking, let alone attempt an answer. By asking about “black” people in England, I  was asserting a singular understanding of a multifaceted question. While the questions I asked clearly framed my interpretation of black as a racial category, the lack of nuance and engagement with contemporary arguments for what exactly constituted “race” in Early Modern England opened enough room for interpretation that my questions precluded intelligent conversation on the topic. I began to read the reactions I encountered not as dismissals, but rather as an implicit pleading for clarity; they were not averse to me or my work, but were rather averse to engaging a conversation in which there was no answer as simplistic and casual as I wanted it to be. Part of the aversion to engaging in polite conversation about race in Early Modern England that I encountered (and continue to encounter), I believe, is that the present era and its attitudes toward race make discussing the topic of race in any era and location a minefield, and Renaissance England is no exception. Even among scholars of race in the period, very few, if any, consensuses are reached. Everything from how race was defined in Early Modern England to who was considered a racialized being is up for debate. Whether race was defined by color, nationality, bloodlines, gender, religion, as a commodity, through culture, through encounters, or all or none of the above have all been questions with no real resolution. Race as a constituent element of human identity, however, may not be an issue that is best served by a concrete resolution. That scholars do not agree on a universalizing factor of race in Early Modern England has created a robust body of scholarly work that makes it quite clear that notions of race as a constituent element of human identity were in flux in the period. Ania Loomba argues that the early seventeenth century was “the last period in history where ethnic identities could be understood as fluid, or as the first moment of the emergence of modern notions of race.”1 Loomba would later trace the lineage of this fluidity from the early fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries, arguing that conceptions of race began as a way of confirming one’s kinship, and grew and morphed to include at varying times religion, nationality, and gender before finally landing on its current usage primarily referencing one’s color.2 This fluid and evolving vocabulary of race has created the potential for “race” to be read as analogous to “difference,” thus

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

3

creating an immense field of studies of intersecting differences between the English and their non-English Others. I believe that another part of the aversion to discussing race in Early Modern England that I encountered is that it is hard to divorce our contemporary notions of race from constructions of race in earlier periods, especially in a casual conversation. As Elizabeth Spiller notes in Reading and the History of Race in the Renaissance, there is a long tradition of scholars who argue, correctly, that we cannot “simply retrofit our contemporary conceptions of race onto early modern understandings of it.”3 While I cautiously agree with this approach, I do not wish to disregard completely the usefulness of all facets of contemporary notions of race in deciphering racialized difference in Early Modern England. “Retrofitting” contemporary notions of race into Early Modern England is problematic, but I question the complete dismissal of contemporary race studies with which most scholars of Early Modern England approach race. I find this dismissal troubling for many reasons, but two stand out. First, dismissing contemporary notions of race as anachronistic is troubling because it assumes that notions of race are limited to specific historical moments and not part of a larger continuum. While it would be impertinent to assume that race functions exactly the same way today as it did in Renaissance England, we cannot dismiss that notions of race, particularly as it pertains to blackness, do have their roots largely in this period. While most scholars tend to look at chattel slavery in America as an American problem, to do so ignores the fact that the attitudes toward black people that allowed for the systematic accumulation and dislocation of Africans originated in Early Modern England. The notion of blacks as property was not born in America, but was brought to America along with the slaves in the hold of the slave ship. Second, this dismissal of current notions of race assumes that race has become a stable and universally accepted concept, a problem that I will address in depth momentarily. So while to say simply that race today is the same as race in Early Modern England is problematic, so too is it problematic to assume that race today can tell us nothing of race in Early Modern England. The impulse to avoid retrofitting contemporary notions of race onto Early Modern England, while correct in its intentions, has caused two important critical slippages4 in the field of Early Modern English race studies. The first is that it has led to a vast and often contradictory network of “identity-as-race” arguments that often conflate two seemingly different groups into one category of Otherness. The second slippage is that to assume that contemporary notions of race cannot be retrofitted into Early Modern England assumes that contemporary notions of race are stable and universal. Moving forward, I would like to take the time to address each of these slippages individually, illuminate the ways in which they have problematized studies of race in Early Modern England, and propose an alternate reading of race as a category that functions not just to define difference within humanity but as the foundation upon which the Early Modern English established their subjectivity as humans.

4

Introduction

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Dangerous Assumptions: Intersections of Race, Identity, and Subjectivity The first slippage is the unintentional but often problematic conflation of non-English Others by viewing them through what Ayanna Thompson calls the “white/right gaze.”5 The majority of studies of race in Early Modern England attempt to, perhaps correctly, decipher how English subjects constructed not only their own identity, but also the identity of Others in opposition to an English foundation. Race, then, is viewed solely in relation to the white English gaze, establishing the subject producing that gaze as a normative ideal upon which to construct difference. The problem with viewing constructions of identity in regard to this single-point perspective is that it often leads scholars to conflate how this gaze viewed varying types of non-English beings under larger umbrellas of identity difference. Often, this assumptive logic leads scholars to approach topics with a view of how English constructions of identity were solidified and, during the process, to gloss over significant cultural difference between the nonEnglish peoples upon which they are confirming the “white/right” gaze. For example, a scholar may evaluate how both Jews and Muslims contribute to formations of English religious identity while glossing over how these categories of Otherness contribute differently to those formations. The following review of literature, then, has a two-fold mission: first, to articulate how this conflation manifests in varying modern “identity-as-race” arguments concerning Early Modern England; and second, to reveal how these identity-as-race intersections signal the possibility of race operating in constructions of the subject. Before discussing how this slippage is seen in varying identity-as-race arguments, we must first define the identity behind the “white/right” gaze that informs many recent studies of racialized Otherness. Looking at how the field as a whole has constructed the network of identity difference, it becomes apparent that the identity behind the “white/right” gaze is informed by four primary constituent elements: color, religion, nation, and gender.6 Each of these categories has been explored in depth as a determinant of a racialized identity, creating arguments for color-as-race, theology-as-race, nation-as-race, and gender-as-race.7 Reading this network of arguments backwards makes it possible to determine that the normative identity that produces the “white/ right” gaze and constructs racialized identity difference is the white, Christian, English male. The majority of existing critical analyses of race in Early Modern England take this oppositional, structuralist approach to notions of race. They assume a normative subject (the white, Christian, English male), then look at how that subject constructed a network of differences. This leads to the assumption that the humans who fit all four facets of that description: white, Christian, English, male, are the “subject,” which allows for all other humans to function on a level platform of opposition as Others. Each of these primary categories of identity-as-race arguments engages in the conflation of identities in different ways.8 Dennis Austin Britton’s

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

5

Becoming Christian9 offers one of the most recent and in-depth studies of the theology-as-race discussion. This intersection, as he notes, is one that has gone largely understudied, and I agree. Following Britton’s lead, I support the notion that nation, religion, and race were largely inseparable, often substituting for one another in Early Modern English discourse. He offers a brilliant reading of the function of Christian baptisms as a means of reconstructing and constructing racial difference among the English and their non-English counterparts, calling attention to the fact that baptisms could convert Turks, Muslims, and Jews, identified by markers of nation, religion, and ethnicity, equally, revealing the intersection between these constituent elements of identity.10 His study begins, however, with an interesting epigraph from Richard Crashaw’s “On the Baptized Aethiope:” “Let it no longer be a forlorne hope To wash an Aethiope: He’s washt, His gloomy skin a peaceful shade For his white soule is made: And now, I doubt not, the Eternall Dove, A black-fac’d house will love.”11 In his reading, he presents the Ethiope12 as a figure who is externally immutable but spiritually whitened through his baptism, equating the whitening of the Ethiope’s soul with a change in his race. This reading I find particularly interesting for the paradoxical nature of the transformation; Britton offers a convincing reading of a lack of change as proof of change. This paradox, I believe, stems from Britton’s reading of the Ethiope as equivalent to Moor.13 If we agree with Britton’s assumption of the equality of Ethiopes and Moors in the eyes of the English, then we can read the spiritual conversion as a racial conversion. If we equate blackness with Moorishness, as Britton does, and Moorishness with Islam, as history does, then a conversion from Islam to Christianity could be read simultaneously as a conversion from blackness. Britton acknowledges, however, that black skin is immutable, so one cannot convert from black to white visibly. I wish to inquire how we can read the conversion of the Ethiope differently from that of the Moor if we do not take the two as equal. The conversion from Moor to Christian, with theology-as-race as the underlying assumption, fits neatly into a paradigm of race as a construction of human identity; changing from believing in Allah to the Christian God is an act of conversion; it is a change in the baptized. So despite the similarity in skin color between Moors and Ethiopes, a conversion does take place during the baptism. For the Ethiope, however, of whom Britton himself admits the English may not have had first-hand knowledge,14 can we read the act of baptism the same way? In the epigraph Britton cites, Crashaw acknowledges that the Ethiope does not necessarily undergo a conversion. He does not change from one

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

6

Introduction

religion to another,15 but rather the “black-fac’d house” becomes inhabited by a “white soule.” This notion of a house that becomes inhabited by “white soule” allows the Ethiope to be read as an empty vessel; the poem does not address what inhabited the Ethiope before his conversion, but rather presents the Ethiope as void of a soul before the habitation that occurs during the baptism. Furthermore, the poem says “his white soule is made” and not “his soule is made white,” further supporting the notion that the soul is created for, rather than converted from, in the case of the Ethiope. I would argue that this baptism, then, is to be read not as a conversion, or changing from one religion to another, but rather as a creation; the Ethiope’s newfound Christianity, his white soul, fills a void rather than alters a preexisting condition. The Ethiope, who is defined in the poem by his blackness, I argue, does not convert at a baptism, but rather “becomes”; he moves from a place of absence to a place of presence. This distinction is important because conversion assumes a preexisting identity while becoming assumes a preexisting absence. Is it possible I am reading too much into this issue? That perhaps the Early Modern English truly made no distinction between the Ethiope and the Moor? Certainly. But reading the Ethiope as equal to the Moor creates a confounding question of how the English viewed notions of presence in relation to humanity. Britton continues his argument by introducing the trope of “turning Turk,” or acknowledging the English Christian’s capacity to convert to Islam and fit into Moorish society.16 What he does not (and perhaps cannot) provide, however, is evidence of English Christians turning Ethiope. How is conversion between the Christian and the Moor so easily recognized as a potentially reciprocal conversion while the conversion between Ethiope and Christian only occurs from the former to the latter? While it is possible to interpret the varying verbiage as merely a semantic difference, I wish to interrogate the possibility of this critical and discursive absence. I argue that for the conversion to Moorishness to be a possibility, the English would have to recognize the Moors’ capacity for metaphysical presence in the paradigm of modernity. In other words, for a conversion to take place, the convert must recognize the presence of what he is converting to, in this case, Islam. Britton’s epigraph and following arguments, as discussed, open the possibility that the English interpreted the Ethiope as a being of metaphysical absence: not as a being whose presence is changed through conversion, but as a being whose presence is created through conversion. The assumed “white/right” gaze under which most scholars construct their notions of racialized difference also assumes that the male gender is the subject producing the gaze, thus allowing gender differences to be read as racialized differences. Laura Bovilsky’s Barbarous Play, while analyzing racialization as a process of crossing boundaries,17 includes a discussion of how gender can be read as a racial difference in Early Modern England. In her reading of Othello, Bovilsky makes a compelling argument for the ways in which Desdemona’s “blackness” overlaps with Othello’s “blackness” to

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

7

argue that discourses of race and gender are not fully separable in Early Modern England.18 While she is correct in arguing that certain feminine values, such as purity, virginity, and innocence were discursively linked to whiteness,19 I wish to offer a reading of these intersections that presents them as not necessarily racialized. Notions of whiteness as pure and blackness as sin in religious doctrine predate discourse on whiteness and blackness as racialized categories. Notions of black and white as racialized categories of identity were not prevalent until the sixteenth century20 while notions of black and white in relation to spirituality exist since at least the fourth century CE.21 In the period Bovilsky discusses, the two conceptual natures of the black/white opposition are certainly in flux, but even Bovilsky acknowledges the ways in which the characters’ blackness is predicated upon the two discourses: Desdemona’s “blackness” is in relation to sexual purity while Othello’s is in relation to skin color. So while she is correct that the representations of blackness indicate links between ideologies of race and gender in the sixteenth century, I would argue that these links require the conflation of multiple conflicting ideologies of blackness, one of which is not necessarily related to racialized difference. In other words, the emergence of blackness as a racialized category did not necessarily end the ideology of blackness as a religious category. While the network of intersections Bovilsky proposes is interesting, it conflates Early Modern English notions of sinners (a religious category) with Early Modern English notions of black people (a racial category). In the sixteenth century when Othello was written, the two existed simultaneously, and it is certainly possible to read the variance between the two in a way that does not racialize Desdemona’s gender. Both of these studies, while focusing on religion and crossing boundaries as racialized categories, offer an interesting perspective into how notions of color difference functioned in Early Modern England. Reading Britton, we can see how notions of race-as-theology rely on a conflation under the umbrella of color difference of two beings who are clearly different from each other, Moors and Ethiopians. Bovilsky takes the opposite route, and although color divides Othello from Desdemona, Bovilsky attempts to align their color by assuming that two different notions of blackness, the religious and the physical, operated equally in the eyes of the Early Modern English subject. Although these studies are attempting to analyze theology and gender as racialized identities, I find it interesting that they both engage with color difference to structure their arguments. The use of color as a structuring mechanism for both of these arguments despite their differences signals the possibility that color difference functions differently from the other categories of race that existed in the period. The ways in which color difference functions as a structuring mechanism for racialized identities is most obvious when attempting to discuss color difference as an identity category. Most scholars who position color as the primary determinant of racialized identity assume that Moors, Africans,

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

8

Introduction

Native Americans, and any other darker-skinned races were read as equally different through the white/right gaze. For example, when attempting to provide archival evidence of “black lives” in England, Imtiaz Habib includes the presence of Moors, Africans, and Turks, three groups all defined primarily through color difference (as well as other markers of identity such as religion), under the umbrella of “black.” This conflation of identities assumes that the English gaze interpreted and defined all of these groups as equals and flattens the vast differences among the groups.22 Numerous other studies of color-as-race engage in this same conflation of all darkerskinned groups. Anthony Barthelemy’s Black Face, Maligned Race: The Representation of Blacks in English Drama from Shakespeare to Southerne, Peter Fryer’s Staying Power: The History of Blacks in Britain,23 and Kim F. Hall’s Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England, while all offering brilliant scholarly investigations into concepts of color-as-race in the period, each assume that numerous types of darkerskinned individuals, regardless of nation, religion, and encounters, were considered equal to one another in the eyes of the English subject.24 Kim F. Hall, whose Things of Darkness is one of the foundational texts of color-as-race arguments, openly acknowledges this conflation in her introduction, approaching it as though it is a necessary evil when addressing race in Early Modern England. Although she “eschews the scare quotes”25 that surround “race” in most studies of the topic in the period, she is forced into the problem of conflating “races” through both discursive and linguistic practices that govern discussions of race within Early Modern England. Early Modern English writers deployed numerous and often overlapping terms to govern discussions of color difference, moving indiscriminately between “Moor,” “Black,” “Tawny,” “Indian,” and other terms to describe beings with darker complexions. Much like Habib, Hall finds it difficult, if not impossible, to disentangle notions of race from the language of race. So while she disagrees with the scare quotes on race, she is forced back into using them around “black” and “African” because of the discourse of the period.26 She recognizes and addresses this conflation by stating, correctly, that the risk of conflation can be outweighed by the value of the project, which is absolutely the case for Hall’s book. In addressing this conflation, she agrees that she is eliding significant cultural differences between these groups, but argues this elision is a necessary, though regrettable, side effect of attempting to discuss color difference as race in Early Modern England.27 This conflation becomes particularly problematic to me, however, because she groups these beings under the umbrella of “black,” which she argues is part of a discursive network in which the concept of blackness is deployed as universally oppositional to whiteness.28 While I agree with the premise of blackness operating as always already oppositional, what troubles me is the way in which this conflation problematizes real-world historical differences between blacks and non-black Others to the Early Modern English. For example, if one reads blackness

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

9

as signifying chaos, are we then to interpret English-Moorish relations and English-African relations equally under this umbrella of “blackness”? This, of course, cannot be the case,29 as the former was built on begrudging acceptance while the latter on domination,30 but how do we disentangle these from one another within an Early Modern discourse that did not explicitly and consistently distinguish between the two? It is questions such as these upon which The Other Other wishes to meditate. The staging of blackness in English Renaissance drama is a topic that has received much scholarly and theoretical scrutiny over the last 50 years. Ever since G.K. Hunter’s 1967 lecture to the British Academy, “Othello and Colour Prejudice,”31 which Andrew Hadfield called “the first serious attempt to understand Elizabethan attitudes toward race,”32 studies of race in Renaissance performance have remained a consistent topic of scholarly interest. Perhaps the most thorough and important of these studies is Virginia Mason Vaughan’s Performing Blackness on English Stages, 1500–1800, which traces the development of blackness on the English stage from medieval pageants through the English Renaissance. Vaughan’s brilliant observations laid much of the groundwork for this book, arguing that blackface was a tool that allowed for “white fantasies [to be] scripted onto black bodies.”33 She traces the roots of blackface to cycle and morality plays of the medieval period, arguing that it was used to “set up oppositions black and white, damnation and salvation, evil and good.”34 Vaughan’s reading of the oppositional nature of blackness in medieval dramas is one that requires further investigation. While I agree with her reading of blackface as a tool that readily and easily portrayed a recognized, but evolving, set of meanings,35 I want to expand on the her oppositional reading of blackface and offer a new reading of blackness on early English stages. While much work has been done on the use of blackface and other blackening prosthetics, the scholarship on this topic has yet to explore the ways in which the representation of blackness onstage was not contained solely within these conventions. Vaughan’s reading of blackface as the primary determinant of a racial identity on the Early Modern English stage, while immensely important, engages in a slippage common among scholars of race in Early Modern England. By making blackface, whether through costume or cosmetics, the primary focus of her readings, she conflates numerous different groups, Moors and blacks specifically, into one by the use of a common convention to represent them. Looking beyond the representational mechanism for both Moors and blacks reveals numerous and vast differences between how the two groups are represented in the plays in which they appear as well as how they engage with the characters within those plays. Many characteristics of Early Modern English drama, including narrative, character, speech, and others, reveal a stark divide between Moors and blacks in the psyche of the early modern subject. There is no doubt that the blackface could easily be read as opposite to whiteness, but I wish to interrogate Vaughan’s reading of the potential

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

10

Introduction

levels of abstraction at which this opposition occurs. While she correctly argues that blackface established a dichotomy between black and white that was directly related to good and evil, I wish to expand this dichotomy to argue that representations of black characters, regardless of the conventions used, established a dichotomy between human and nonhuman. Vaughan’s argument that blackface portrayed a recognized set of meanings is correct, but I argue that it does more than just portray meaning. What if Early Modern English drama not only reflected the world, but also helped to create the world and, for the focus of this study, notions of humanity? Stephen Greenblatt argues that representation relies on material emanation and exchange,36 and it is the purpose of this study to engage with what emanated from representations of blackness in drama and at what levels of abstraction these emanations functioned in how the Early Modern subject defined humanity. To interpret how the Renaissance man informed his notions of self through blackness, we must first establish how the notions of self that appear in English Renaissance discourse vary from those of the preceding medieval period. Jakob Burkhardt, writing in 1860, argues that the Renaissance man was the first in England to produce discourse based on notions of an individualized self.37 This individualized discourse emerged in stark contrast to medieval notions of the self as part of a collective in which man was “only conscious of himself as a member of a race, people, party family, or corporation—only through some general category.”38 Stephen Greenblatt elaborates on Burkhardt, arguing that these notions of self are predicated upon determining some form of alien, strange, or hostile Other that must be destroyed.39 Placing these arguments within the medieval period, one can easily argue that the primary collective identity upon which the English fashioned their notions of self was religion. In the Middle Ages, political systems, educational systems, and social systems were very much centered on the church.40 If the English’s notions of the self depend upon an Other that must be destroyed, the 100-year conflict of the Crusades can be read as a long attempt to discover and elaborate on notions of a collective self.41 Reading medieval religious texts, then, can offer a gateway into the foundational principles of the collective religious self that predated notions of the individual self that were established in the Renaissance. John Freccero’s Dante: The Poetics of Conversion42 offers a thorough and insightful survey of varying texts that informed medieval religion. He calls attention to several texts43 of both antiquity and the middle ages that present Lucifer and his fall from paradise and the regeneration of the spiritual self through a parable of color, most notable of which is Dante’s Divine Comedy. Reading the Inferno, Freccero interprets the bello (beautiful) and brutto (ugly) in canto 34.34–3644 as “white” and “black,”45 thus indicating that the fall of Lucifer was not just a fall from grace, but a conversion of color. Continuing into Dante’s Purgatorio, Freccero aligns this conversion of color in the fall with

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

11

steps to the gates of purgatory proper.46 Through this comparative reading, Freccero convincingly positions Satan as a zero point between pristine whiteness and redemption through Christ, as simultaneously the opposite of both God and the redeemed subject.47 Reading these tricolor interpretations of the fall of Lucifer and mankind’s redemption in relation to medieval constructions of identity very quickly shows how blackness came to fill the space of opposition that I noted earlier in the works of copious scholars. However, these readings open the possibility for this opposition to occur not only in relation to identity but in relation to human subjecthood. Reading Freccero in conjunction with Genesis 1:2748 creates the potential for a triangulation that aligns blackness not only as oppositional to specific forms of human identity, but as oppositional to humanity itself. The Bible states that God made man in His image. If this is the case, and the society interpreting that verse receives his own image as white, then is it possible to infer that those beings not made in God’s image, read white, may not be man? Is it possible that the subject would interpret color difference as a defining feature of all humanity? The mission of the preceding section was actually three-fold. The first two missions were made apparent at the start: first, to call attention to the ways in which various forms of “identity-as-race” arguments engage in an important, perhaps essential, critical slippage that has occurred from assuming a “white/right” gaze when constructing race in Early Modern England; and second, to open the possibility of race functioning in constructions of subjectivity as well as identity. The third mission was to uncover an assumptive logic inherent in these arguments that The Other “Other” engages and challenges. The attempts to read race in Early Modern England in relation to a “white/right” gaze is inherently flawed. The problem with binary distinctions of “self” and “Other” as they apply to identity constructions is that they inherently recognize and acknowledge the existence of the gaze of the Other for example, in defining the English identity in relation to the Moor, scholars are simultaneously recognizing the Moor’s capacity for establishing his identity in relation to the English. What the scholarship on race in Early Modern England has yet to fully engage with, however, is the ways in which the English subject defined his very humanity through racialized differences between white and black. The English/Other binary, already problematic when discussing race, becomes even more so when discussing race as a marker of the human subject because of the inherent recognition of the humanity of both the subject and its Other. As discussed, both the English and their defined Others recognize one another’s capacity for their own gaze. Also as noted, racialized identities in the early modern period were highly fluid. How then, does one define one’s humanity in relation to unstable notions of difference? Viewing notions of identity as both universally accessible and dynamically fluid does not allow room for the possibility of a stable nonhuman abject upon which both the “self” and the “Other” construct their mutually recognized identities. It is

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

12

Introduction

this intersection of gazes, identities, and subjectivity where I wish to intervene. Instead of engaging in descriptions and interpretations of identity, I wish to look at how the English, as well as those they considered Others, functioned at the level of subjectivity. In other words, by reading the ways in which notions of color affected and structured notions of humanity, I argue that blackness was the foundational tool with which these varying identities engaged to articulate the basis of their humanity (subjectivity) as opposed to their place within humanity (identity). Now I want to be clear that the purpose of this project is not to attempt to decipher the gaze of the non-English Other In this book, I am not attempting to argue for how Moors, Jews, Turks, Spaniards, etc., all defined themselves in relation to the English. Instead, this book argues for the ways in which the English acknowledged the gazes of non-English peoples in their definitions of what it means to be human. In other words, while all of these varying peoples constructed their identities vis-à-vis the nations, religions, colors, and bloodlines of each other, The Other “Other” proposes the theory that the English recognized and incorporated all non-English Others into human subjectivity in opposition to notions of black abjection, thus arguing for an antagonism of racialized subjectivity that undergirds the network of racialized identities. This book is not the first to address the possibility of subjectivity as raced in Early Modern England. Much of the groundwork for how race could function in Early Modern English constructions of subjectivity was laid by Ayanna Thompson’s 2008 book Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage. Thompson argues that the performance of torture and the deconstruction/destruction of the racialized body reveal that “a racialized epistemology does not necessarily have to be based on a semiotically charged interpretation of color so much as a semiotically charged interpretation of bodiliness.”49 She places the construction of Early Modern English racial epistemology, then, upon the destruction of racialized bodies which codifies, normalizes, and empowers the “white/right gaze” of the English audience.50 What I wish to interrogate in Thompson’s work first and foremost is her assumption of the body and what exactly constitutes a body. Thompson engages the humanist assumptive logic that a body is bestowed on all human figures equally, and does not theoretically scrutinize the ways in which notions of a body are predicated upon subjectivity. Thompson assumes the body is contained in a material form and does not examine the metaphysical and semiotic implications of what it means to be a being in possession of a body as opposed to a being composed of flesh. In Thompson’s readings of Thomas Southerne’s 1695 stage adaptation of Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, she asserts that Oroonoko’s identity is “represented as unrepresentable.”51 I wish to evaluate this notion of an unrepresentable identity in relation to the assumption of a body. Saidiya Hartman’s Scenes of Subjection challenges the notion of a “body” as it pertains to the enslaved under the system of chattel slavery in America.52

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

13

The “selective recognition of humanity that undergirded the relations of chattel slavery,”53 which Hartman recognizes in American slaveholders had to exist before the slaves’ arrival in America. The English who began the chattel slave trade would have had to engage in “selective recognition” for the slaves to be placed on the ships to begin with, thus making the English psyche, not the American psyche, the point of origin for notions of selective recognition. Hartman argues that for the chattel slavery industry to exist, the subject had to “[exclude] blacks from the purview of universal rights and entitlements,”54 thus positioning slaves as beings composed of sentient flesh who lack the capacity to claim their own body as property.55 How then, does this challenging of the notion of a body alter Thompson’s reading of Oroonoko? How are we to read the torture on stage when it is perpetrated against sentient flesh rather than against a human body? While I agree with Thompson that the torture of Oroonoko has implications for both essentialist and constructivist notions of race, I argue that it supports both rather than deconstructs either. Thompson argues that the use of violence against African slaves does not socially construct them, and she is correct: violence cannot layer a human identity onto black sentient flesh because the base assumptions of human subjectivity required to claim a human identity were not extended to black Africans. But if we read this torturing through the lens of Hartman, this violence does ontologically construct the black African slave. So in essence, I agree with Thompson’s argument that the torturing of black flesh does not help to construct the identity of the torturer because the flesh lacks the capacity for an opposing identity. The torturing of black flesh instead solidifies the subjectivity of the torturer; the destruction of black flesh confirms the body of the subject. While her introduction of notions of a racialized subjectivity laid much of the groundwork for this book, her book engages in the same theoretical slippage The Other Other wishes to correct. In theorizing the performance of torture on numerous different types of racialized bodies, including Moors, Africans, and Native Americans, Thompson reads all of these races as equally important to the construction of the white/right gaze of the audience. She explicitly states this privileging of the “white” gaze, arguing that notions of race in Early Modern England were definitely constructed through a white/non-white binary.56 While it is outside the scope of both of our projects to argue for how these races constructed their own identities, my project questions Thompson’s assumption that all of these varying racialized bodies functioned the same on the stage. I agree with her argument based on the assumption of a white/non-white binary of racial subjectivity, but I argue that the type of racialized body represented on stage, whether through torture or other means, had varying effects on the English audience’s psyche. The Other Other challenges Thompson’s basic assumption that racialized constructions of the self are predicated on a white/nonwhite divide and argues that some non-white races functioned differently in regard to the constructions of subjectivity. In other words, The Other Other

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

14

Introduction

not only reads racialized bodies in relation to whiteness, but in relation to each other, to reveal how the English deployed different modes in their reading of racialized beings to separate these non-English races into those whose identity was racialized and those whose subjectivity was racialized. Reading these varying racialized beings in relation to one another reveals that, at the level of subjectivity, Moors and Native Americans operated closer to the white English subject than to the black Africans. By reading the differences between Moors, Native Americans, and blacks on the stage, The Other Other repositions Thompson’s notion of racialized subjectivity in Early Modern England away from the “white/non-white” antagonism and argues for a “non-black/black” paradigm of racialized subjectivity. Thompson, in spite of this conflation, does call attention to the confusion that The Other Other wishes to demystify. She argues that notions of “race” and “racial identity” in Early Modern England are contradictory in nature; that they are at once essential and constructions.57 The ways in which scholars read both “race” and “racial identity” as products of experience, both as constructions, foregrounds this contradiction. What if, however, race functions not only as a construction of civil society, but also as a foundation for the structure of civil society? What if race operates not only at a conscious level in constructing identities, but also at a subconscious level that constructs and defines humanity? While it is not the project of either of our works to attempt to interpret the gaze of the Other and determine how Moors, Native Americans, and blacks constructed their own identities, my project does read how the “white/right” gaze Thompson introduces does not view every racialized body equally. The Other “Other” uses contemporary Afro-Pessimist theories to articulate how these “conflicting significations” of race as essential and race as construction are able to function simultaneously in Early Modern England. To do so requires analyzing both the society of Early Modern England and the structural paradigm upon which that society is constructed.

Blackness and the Construction of the Self The Other Other attempts to articulate the ways in which race functioned paradigmatically rather than just as a product of experience. In other words, while many scholars have addressed the idea of racialized identities in Early Modern England, this book engages the possibility of a racialized subjectivity in Early Modern England. Doing so, however, requires addressing the second slippage I introduced earlier: the argument that contemporary notions of race cannot be “retrofitted” for Early Modern England. This idea is problematic because it assumes that contemporary notions of race are static. This is absolutely not the case. As the world becomes more multicultural, race in contemporary theory is constantly being reevaluated. In the past decade or so, entirely new fields of critical race theory have been created, and the way theorists think

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

15

about race has changed immensely without many attempts from scholars of the Early Modern period to adjudicate these new ideas through the lens of Early Modern race studies. The most important of these new developments, at least for the purposes of this project, has come from Black Studies, in which the subfield of Afro-Pessimism has completely realigned contemporary notions of race, arguing that race is not just a marker of human identity, but is in fact the foundation upon which “human” constructs its own subjectivity. While acknowledging the differences of racialized identities within humanity, Afro-Pessimism also argues for a racialized paradigmatic structure predicated upon an irreconcilable antagonism between blacks and non-blacks; thus, repositioning race not simply as a marker of human difference but also as the basis for what it means to be human. The Other Other engages Afro-Pessimist critical theory further to define and decode the meanings and possibilities of subjectivity existing as a racialized formation in Early Modern England. While I acknowledge that notions of race were fluid in the discourse of Early Modern England, I argue that the English settling on color difference as the primary constituent element of race in the seventeenth century is symptomatic of a paradigmatic divide between non-blacks and blacks in the English psyche. Using Afro-Pessimism as a critical lens, I argue that Early Modern English notions of individual human subjectivity are predicated on an existing antagonism between humanity and blackness that was mapped onto and articulated through black African flesh. It is through this racializing of nonhuman abjection as black that the English constructed the notions of intersecting racialized identities that define differences within humanity: the network of Englishness and Otherness with which most scholars engage race in the period. The Other Other wishes to draw attention to a concurrent development in English drama that both supports notions of race as a fluid marker of human identity and simultaneously establishes non-blackness as a racialized marker of human subjectivity. Current examinations of Early Modern conceptions of the self are more about constructing and defining the purest form of English identity and do not engage with what it means to be a human who has the capacity for an identity. So often times when arguing for what constructs an English “subject,” these arguments acknowledge the subjectivity of the being upon which the English construct their selves and engage with differences within the semantic field of civil society. In other words, scholars have created a field in which notions of identity and subjectivity are blurred, with both being defined in relation to, rather than opposition to, other human subjects. Scholarship on the Early Modern self is, as Karen Cunningham describes it, “framed in terms of the problem of knowing one’s own and others’ minds.”58 The most common constituent elements of the human subject that scholars of Early Modern England examine to construct a self are gender, race, religion, nationality, and civility. These, however, are identity categories used to distinguish between humans. Scholars commonly combine more

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

16

Introduction

than one of these elements to construct an argument for what constitutes the subject.59 Stephen Greenblatt’s seminal work Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (1980) established new ground for the construction of subjectivity based on rational thought and the ability for a subject to determine his self, arguing that human subjectivity is more constituted than constitutive.60 Other scholars have followed this New Historicist approach to the self, including Catherine Belsey and Jonathan Dollimore, rehistoricizing texts in terms of the political, social, cultural, and economic relations of Early Modern England that influenced the writers of the period and governed the modes of thought under which they wrote. Karen Cunningham examines the intersection between national and rational identity through treason, arguing that interiority was an imagined concept in the religious and philosophical paradigm of the Renaissance, so any betrayal of the self was as imaginative as the construction of the self.61 Cynthia Marshall acknowledges the humanist construction of the self in Early Modern England based on growing rationalism, self-determination, and divine right, taking a look at how violent psychic disruptions and severe emotional distress fractured and distorted these perceptions of selfhood in Early Modern texts.62 At their cores, each of these arguments of the construction of the subject begins with the same assumptive logic: they assume the humanity of both the subject and the object without questioning or addressing what it means to be human. While giving a thorough foundation for how the English constructed their status as subjects, these studies rely on identity differences as the basis for their arguments for English subjectivity. In other words, they try to define the human against other humans. If we believe Greenblatt’s argument that the subject needs a foreign, hostile Other upon which to define itself, a being upon which to construct opposition, how can the human then define itself in relation to other humans?63 These studies, while arguing for constructions of the subject, conflate notions of subjectivity with notions of identity, attempting to define the subject through differences within humanity. Using the divisions that established identity in Early Modern England to classify the subject creates a number of problems. First, constructions of identity are not divine nor are they unchangeable. Humans can alter their identity through their actions; baptisms, marriages, and military service are a few examples of how Early Modern subjects could alter their identity. That the constituent elements of identity are unstable means that these categories: religion, nationality, gender, etc., do not provide a stable basis upon which to define humanity. In matters of race, the English/Other binary that is prevalent in scholarship on the Early Modern period can be rectified with a paradigmatic analysis that looks beyond notions of identity to attempt to articulate notions of ontology. The assumption of the white, English, Christian male as the normative “subject” conflates notions of identity and ontology. The markers of white, English, Christian, and male are all categories of human identity. Defining this combination as a “subject” is problematic because those who are

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

17

recognized as colors other than white, nationalities other than English, religions other than Christian, and genders other than male are also recognized as subjects. While their status within humanity may be denigrated in the eyes of the English, denigrated subjectivity is still subjectivity. This shared recognition of human subjectivity between most English and non-English identities throws the circumstances in which this recognition is not shared into stark relief. While Spaniards, Italians, Moors, Native Americans, blacks, and other races and nationalities can all be defined as non-English identities, there is a clear separation between black and nonblack Others in terms of historical treatment: only blacks were gathered from their homeland and deported to a new world to serve as slaves with no regard or consideration given to their humanity. The blurring of identity and subjectivity mystifies the paradigmatic machinations at work that separate non-blacks and blacks structurally, obfuscating racial difference in a way that establishes a false recognition and incorporation of the black and glossing over the disparate historical treatment of black Others compared to non-black Others. In other words, the blurry distinction between notions of identity and subjectivity in most studies of Early Modern England allows scholars to gloss over the historical fact that not all peoples are on equal footing as human subjects. This volume argues that the Early Modern English, to define their own humanity, positioned black Africans as beings that existed outside the ontology of the human. I also argue that this construction of the human that is predicated on black abjection actually aligns the English with the Moors, Turks, Native Americans, and other non-white races as humans, thus realigning the paradigm of human subjectivity as a racialized subjectivity that is predicated upon a non-black/black antagonism. Many of the studies mentioned here attempt to articulate by reading identity differences between groups such as Christians and Muslims or English and Turks as oppositions. These categories, however, do not function in opposition. The opposite of English is not the Turk because both categories require the recognition of the claim to a nation. The opposite of the Christian is not the Muslim because both categories require the recognition of the claim to a religion. The opposite of the Christian human is not a being with a different religion, but rather one with no recognized claim to religion. The Moor is not the absolute opposite of the English, but rather a human cohort who claims a different nation. The same cannot be said for the black. The English made no attempt to recognize the religion of black Africans. The English made no attempt to recognize the black Africans’ claim to their land and instead collected, deported, and enslaved them. I wish to address the possibility that the black Africans were racialized at the level of subjectivity, serving as an Other to both the Moor and the English, and that it was through blackness that the English recognized their subjectivity as humans. It is with this focus on racialized subjectivity that I wish to introduce the possibility for using contemporary theories of race to navigate the network of intersecting constituent elements of racialized identities in Early

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

18

Introduction

Modern England by articulating the ways in which this network is predicated upon notions of a racialized subjectivity that exist at a subconscious level. The project of this book is to provide a paradigmatic, structural foundation upon which the fluid, malleable constructions of racialized identities can exist in Early Modern England. To accomplish this mission, however, requires engaging the scholarly aversion to “retrofitting”64 contemporary notions of race onto an earlier culture. This book is the first to show how contemporary notions of racialized subjectivity can be an effective tool for analyses of race in Early Modern England. In the past ten years, a new sub-field of critical race theory coined Afro-Pessimism65 has begun to address the paradigmatic implications of race as a structural position upon which notions of human subjectivity are predicated. This field of theory analyzes blackness not as an accumulation of cultural meanings, but rather as a “structural position of noncommunicability in the face of all other positions… [that is] predicated on modalities of accumulation and fungibility, not exploitation and alienation.”66 Frank Wilderson came to this conclusion from analyzing a set of shared, although not always explicitly mentioned, assumptions found in the works of Frantz Fanon,67 Hortense Spillers, David Marriott, Orlando Patterson, and others whose work engages in the first instance with unconscious identification, making them theorists not of identity but of structural positionality.68 Wilderson’s work, and Afro-Pessimism as a whole, relies heavily on Orlando Patterson’s theorization of slavery not as the experience of forced labor, but as an ontological position that is socially dead in the eyes of civil society.69 It is with this position of “social death” that Afro-Pessimism aligns the ontological existence of the black. Wilderson argues for a triangular ontological separation governing positionality, with “white” being those of European and non-black immigrant descent who can claim humanity and the role of Master/Settler, “black” being those who have been subject to structural violence that has removed the capacity for humanity and alters their grammar of suffering into one of accumulation and fungibility, and “Red” being the Native caretakers of the American soil who occupy a liminal space of “subjective capacity and objective incapacity.”70 All this to say that modern theorists of blackness have greatly expanded on scholarly understandings of the ways in which blackness existed and functioned in relation to humanity. Afro-Pessimism introduces the idea that, perhaps, race, specifically the divide between blacks and non-blacks, is the basis for all constructions of modernity. The majority of these revolutionary works, however, have used America as the primary locus of their investigations into black inhumanity. Numerous reasons exist for this, most of which center on the institution of chattel slavery as a practice that altered those subjected to it at an ontological level. Many of the most influential and brilliant modern scholars of Black Studies, including Frank Wilderson, Saidiya Hartman, David Marriott, and Jared Sexton to name a few, all work in the United States, and their projects focus on the structures of race and position

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

19

of blackness in America. These scholars, while signaling the possibility for blackness existing a priori as the abject to humanity, place the origin of the ontological rupture between humanity and blackness in the hold of the slave ship, making it a location of not only physical, but metaphysical, violence. Hartman theorizes on the violence inflicted on slaves in the antebellum South, arguing that the violence inflicted on blackness is such a part of their being that black flesh cannot be the object of empathy. In both these cases, Wilderson and Hartman are arguing for a violence that, while constitutive of black existence, is the result of the slave ship and structures the paradigmatic position of blackness in America. While both of these projects are major influences on my own work, presenting the hold of the slave ship as the location of the first ontological instance of blackness allows the civilization that created the slave ship as a tool for metaphysical violence to escape, for the most part, serious theoretical scrutiny. Studies of the effects of chattel slavery in American race relations often gloss over the fact that the first few generations of slave holders on the American continent were Europeans, and thus do not address the ways in which the chattel slavery industry affected race relations on the European continent. I find it difficult to believe that a nation could foster attitudes that encouraged abducting and deporting black Africans across the Atlantic and have those attitudes be completed deported from their homeland and contained solely on those ships and on that new continent. The scholars of blackness in America escape some of the fault for this neglect of the potential for structures of racial antagonism in early England for two reasons: first, the period falls outside the scope of the brilliant projects of Frank Wilderson, Saidiya Hartman, Jared Sexton, and others; and second, the potential for racial conflict to exist as a structural foundation beyond the realm of experience has been obfuscated by the immense amount of scholarship on race in Early Modern England. What I am proposing is a double corrective of sorts, one that has ramifications for both studies of blackness and studies of Early Modern England; I propose that before the Middle Passage, and in fact prior even to encounters with the black human figure, the Early Modern English subject established blackness as the abject of humanity. This alters the current scholarly perspectives that: one, the first ontological instance of blackness came on the Middle Passage where, as Frank Wilderson states, “Africans went into the ships and came out as Blacks”71; and two, that all Others existed on equal ontological ground in the eyes of the Early Modern English subject. By providing a stable abject for human subjectivity, blackness enables the fluid network of identities to become more navigable, repositioning the binary notions of Otherness away from identity and onto subjectivity. In other words, by interpreting the “human gaze” rather than the English gaze, The Other Other argues that the most basic antagonism that allowed for fluid constructions of identity was not between the English and Others but rather between humans and blacks. This study, then, argues for the divide

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

20

Introduction

between black and non-black as the primary determinant of humanity for both those with an English gaze and those recognized as their Other. By engaging with Afro-Pessimist notions of human subjectivity as predicated on a non-black/black antagonism, this study works to provide a foundation for structural analyses of race in the Early Modern Period. While many of the referenced works address race through notions of identity, I wish to provide an analysis of color difference in the Renaissance as a category of difference that functions both consciously in constructions of identity and subconsciously in defining the human. This theory engages and supports the arguments of Hall, Spiller, Britton, and others who argue for race as a fluid concept of human difference in the Renaissance by offering blackness as a stable locus of negation upon which to structure notions of humanity. If the human is constructed through notions of antiblackness, then markers of human identity such as gender, religion, blood, kinship, nation, and others become malleable and transmutable within a shared humanity.

Interpreting Conflated Identities in the Lens of Subjectivity Although I have argued that a conflation of various identity categories is present in most studies of race in Early Modern England, to address the ways in which blackness helps to disentangle all the conflicting intersections of race in the period is too broad of a scope for one book. Certainly gender, blood, nation, religion, and others constituent elements of racialized difference in the period deserve equal theoretical engagement; the scope of this project, however, focuses primarily on articulating how the English interpreted black Africans differently from other peoples of color, thus positioning black Africans as a corporeal manifestation of abject blackness. This divide between black and other peoples of color that the English encountered during the period at the level of ontology can be read in the representations of varying non-white peoples on English stages. So while the terms the English used to describe varying non-white Others in racial discourse of the period may overlap, the ontological considerations extended to these characters on the stage varies greatly. Using Afro-Pessimist articulations of black abjection then becomes an effective tool for articulating the varying ontological considerations that Early Modern English dramatists extended to their non-white characters in relation to color difference. In other words, the aim of this project is to use both Afro-Pessimism and Early Modern English drama to disentangle notions of color as race that function in the construction of identity from notions of color as race that functioned in the construction of the human. The conflation of varying types of darker-skinned identities into one class of equal Others is understandable based on the historical evidence available from the period. This is a period when the subject was just beginning to define the self at both psychological and linguistic levels, and the novelty of

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

21

concepts of subjectivity led to instability in the linguistic identifiers of the self and, in turn, its Other. This instability led to the use of varying overlapping and sometimes interchangeable signifiers for racial Otherness including Moor, Blackamoor, Negro, Negar, Barbary, Tawny…the list goes on, making distinctions between different non-English races in the Early Modern period a monumental task that is often avoided. Since the linguistic identifiers of non-English races are unstable and mostly unhelpful, we must then look at how the linguistic systems adopted by the English subject and its Others interact and relate to one another. Reexamining the Early Modern discourses on the self and identity reveals that they are often pondering the question of what it means to be human. René Descartes offered the fundamental premise for humanity based on rational thought, “I think, therefore I am.” But how does one know one thinks? Descartes links the capacity for presence with the capacity for thought, but his famous philosophy is incomplete. Thought alone, as Richard Hillman notes, is not enough to determine presence, but one must also have the ability to communicate and transfer those thoughts. Communication is a relationship that requires transmission and reception, so presence also requires that one must not only express his thoughts, but have his expressed thoughts received and acknowledged by others. The acknowledgment of thought, however, is not simply an act of reception, but also requires a reciprocal transmission; the capacity to understand and respond is also a manifestation of the capacity for thought. This forms a cycle of expression, reception/expression, expression/reception that flows repeatedly forward and backward without a real beginning or end. So for the early modern English subject to be able to identify as English, there must be a conflicting identity that recognizes the discourse upon which his Englishness can be constructed. In the Early Modern period, the particular identity of the English subject was constructed along lines of nation, gender, religion, color, wealth, and numerous other constituent elements that combined to form what it means to be a full English subject. All of these constituent elements upon which the English constructed their narrative of identity, however, allowed the opposition of their definition to gain recognition as a human subject by the act of being used to construct identity. For example, an English subject cannot identify as English unless that subject recognizes that some human beings identify with other nations72; the Christian cannot exist without recognizing the Muslim, the man cannot exist without recognizing the woman, the rich cannot exist without the poor, etc. In all of these cases, however, a subject is recognizing his object to confirm not only his own subjectivity, but also the subjectivity, however denigrated, of his opposite. The Englishman must have his subjectivity recognized by others in the network. We can look at presence then, not as the capacity for thought, but rather as the product of interactions between expressed thoughts and discourses, the product of communicability within a semantic field.73 In other words, thinking alone does not make one a subject, but rather subjectivity

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

22

Introduction

relies on the other: one exists only if others exist.74 Existence arises from mutual recognition: I am a subject because I recognize that you are subject and vice versa, as established by our interactions within the semantic field. Not all of the relationships between presence and absence that construct the symbolic order, however, hold equal weight in constructions of fundamental subjectivity. Scholars vary on what defines the capacity for presence in civil society. According to Orlando Patterson’s 1984 book Slavery and Social Death, the Master/Slave75 antagonism is the basis for definitions of presence and absence. He argues that Slavery is not, as most people define it, the experience of forced labor, but rather an ontology that describes a being who is socially dead: a being who is divorced from his homeland, without honor, and subject to gratuitous violence prior to any act of transgression. These constituent elements of Slavery are predicated on the Idiom of Power, the sum of all power relationships centered on one’s capacity to own property. All occupants of civil society that have a claim to property have presence as a Master; the Slave, on the other hand, has no claim to property, even its own body. The Slave is a being that has similar capabilities as the Master, but the difference lies in the capacity for recognition: the Master exists in the reciprocal network of semiotic recognition while the Slave has no reciprocation of semiotic designations; the Slave can express, but cannot be received. The Slave’s existence is defined by this absence of semiotic reciprocation and creates an existence that makes the Slave socially dead in the eyes of civil society. A closer examination of the root of these conflicts between Others based on Lacanian psychoanalysis and the Pattersonian Master/Slave dynamic exposes a problem with most current arguments for how the English constructed their subjectivity: in their attempts to define the subject in Early Modern England, many scholars assume that subjectivity is linked to agency; in other words, subjectivity equals the ability to label one’s self and one’s Others This methodology of defining the subject, however, ignores that many of the groups that scholars of English subjectivity refer to as the Others also had the power to assign signifiers: the Muslims, the Turks, the Spaniards, and English women, all of whom have been referred to as “Other” or “object” in scholarship, also had a recognized capacity for agency and a place within the structure. That these Others also had some semblance of semiotic control alters the view of this network of differences; rather than a network that centers on Englishness, the potential semiotic capacity of the Other, regardless of how diminished or denigrated their status is, creates a network of inherent reciprocity. In this network, everyone is someone’s Other. While the English have a semiotic system in place that defines the Muslim as an Other, the Muslims have a similar system that defines the English as Other. Challenging notions of Otherness that depend on its definition as non-English and reestablishing it as a relative term in which the English also function as Others introduces new avenues of study into Early Modern

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

23

English notions of subjectivity. In their attempts to establish the foundations of Early Modern English subjectivity by defining notions of the self, what many scholars have done is establish useful, categorical variances among human identities that both were shaped by and continued to shape the politics, economies, and societies of the Early Modern world. What they stop just short of doing, however, is arguing for a stable foundation for humanity upon which these notions of identities can exist and hold meaning. With Otherness as a relative term, Muslims, Turks, Jews, English, Spanish, and so on (i.e., the English and all of their Others) actually exist as recognized and incorporated subjects in civil society through their capacity to communicate and translate their semiotic systems amongst each other. Conflict between these disparate groups arises when their semiotic systems are not easily reconcilable, such as through definitions of nationhood, gender, religion, etc. Yet one group of beings actually exists on a structural plane whose semiotic system is not recognized and incorporated into this structure of conflict. Such a being is not identified as a different type of human, but rather as a being that lacks the capacity for definition, a true anti-human, the antagonist against which all human identities find a stable base for identification. In fact, one particular system, that of the civilizations of blacks in Africa, had no ontological participation in or resistance to the varying semiotic structures of humanity. Black Africans, instead of occupying a place within civil society as human, have, since the primary encounters, immediately and without deliberation been seen by these “subjects” as the ontological Slave as defined by Patterson. The inciting incident of the blacks’ structural negation by collective humanity may never be uncovered and perhaps possibly can never be uncovered (or, by ontological definition, does not even exist). Ever since the Arab invasion into sub-Saharan Africa circa 700 AD,76 we can see the roots of a humanity that, as a whole, can be defined as those who exist within a reciprocal semiotic network against the incommunicability and nonhumanity of blackness, a collection of flesh that exists devoid of the possibility of semiotic reciprocation and recognition. Blackness thus exists as that which scandalizes the symbolic order by refusing attempts at being defined. To define blackness, to define the pure absence, would be to expose constructions of presence not as divine, but as a fraudulent construction that only exists in the ether and has no corporeal significance. Blackness exists as a signifier, but it is a signifier of negation, so the referent to which that signifier refers is always changing within the symbolic order. Blackness is what others who claim selfhood need it to be; a narrative not of blackness itself, but of the psychic afflictions of the subject. In other words, while black exists as a signifier, it has no relationship to a stable referent or, as Ronald Judy puts it, the Black cannot “enable the representation of meaning [because] it has no referent” (as qtd. by Wilderson 39), but rather the referent of black is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on who is assigning the signifier. In the case of each recognized society in the Early Modern world, the opposite of the subject has been defined as black.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

24

Introduction

The lack of semiotic reciprocation with blackness positions race as both a semiotic designation and a designation of paradigmatic absence. Scholars who have tackled the issue of race in Early Modern England primarily assume that race is a source of aesthetic, experiential, and sometimes ideological conflicts, and in turn, address how the conflicts brought about through these differences affected the world, especially how they affected the English subject. This leads to the scholarly apprehension that literally surrounds the word “race” with scare quotes. While defining someone as Other recognizes them as different from the speaker, the importance lies not in the difference, but rather in the fact that difference is a direct result of recognition. The energy and drive to establish a group’s difference is the same energy and drive that establishes the group as a recognized and incorporated demographic of civil society. What gains less attention, however, is that race is a dynamic that functions differently for notions of identity than for notions of subjectivity. If we choose to accept race as a marker of identity, then Caucasian, Asian, black, Hispanic, and Native Americans are all different, and these differences can be mitigated; any construction can be deconstructed. Race, when viewed only as a marker of identity, cannot then address the unmitigated violence that has been deployed by all human races against blackness. The violence deployed against blacks is not just an experience, but the result of their structural position as the Slave; the violence is gratuitous and requires neither rationalization nor justification. The designation of black as a racial identity is a false narrative; blackness signals a more abstract designation of opposition that cannot be described in terms of human relationality and difference, but rather is the difference that determines one’s humanity. One cannot simultaneously be black and human; but rather these two categories construct the foundational antagonism between presence and absence that forms the basis for the symbolic order. So while “race” as a marker of human identity was still in a state of flux in early modern England, race as the structural determinant of “human” was already at play. Blackness exists conceptually as the unifying abject that underlies and allows for the relationality of varying human identities by establishing a solid ground upon which the constituent elements of identity, the concepts of nation, religion, gender, and civility, can exist as equals. All identities that contain the capacity for both presence and absence, regardless of their differences, maintain the common thread that they are not black. Scholars continually make arguments for the primacy of one of these identities in the construction of the subject, but fail to acknowledge that both the presence and the absence of an identity are born on the shoulders of blackness. So while it may appear that maleness was a necessary element of subjectivity, an argument made by Kim Hall, Lynda Boose, and others, that establishes a subjected female, these arguments do not theorize or account for the fact that both males and females could own blacks, thus equalizing males and females in relation to black subjection. The common abjection of blackness spans all conflicts of identity, unifying the self and the Other as mutually human.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

25

Blackness’s incapacity to be defined, to signify a recognized, present referent, is on display in Early Modern England, particularly on the stage and in the drama. By defining the self, the Early Modern English subject was able to categorize various humans as Others (other types of humans) but not as nonhuman. Identity works on a horizontal plane of existence, constructing differences among categories within humanity. Although Others identify themselves differently, the act of acknowledging, classifying, and recognizing those differences is still a construction of an acknowledgement of shared relationality and leads to an incorporation of that difference into the paradigm of humanity. Acknowledging the humanity allows for change: a Turk could turn Christian and vice versa, and plays existed about these circumstances.77 Any marker of identity then is transmutable because it is predicated on the recognition of the bearer’s humanity. Reexamining the deployments of blackness as theatrical convention reveals the ways in which the English subject deployed blackness as a negation of their constructions of selfhood. Representations of blackness, which is distinct from Moorishness, reveal the ways in which the Early Modern subject viewed blackness as that which can never be defined, but always already exists as the manifestation of the psychic needs of civil society. From the earliest use of blackness to mark devils in medieval cycles and pageants to the appearance of the black human figure, the representation of blackness in many instances aligns closely with the ontological Slave against which the subject constructs humanity. Before the practice of chattel slavery perpetrated by the English beginning with John Hawkins and flourishing into a massive commercial industry in the Restoration, the figure of the black lacked human ontological consideration. Uncovering the psychic necessity of anti-black racism within the human subject in England before the encounter with black Africans forces a reconsideration of the enslavement of blacks; it makes the transatlantic slave trade the product of black nonhumanity rather than its cause. Revealing the ways in which anti-black racism existed within the subject based strictly on concepts of blackness before encounters with black Africans repositions the ontological rupture between blackness and humanity, which Saidiya Hartman originates on the slave ship, to an a priori, always already condition. In other words, the black human figure never had the opportunity for or consideration of ontological consideration in the face of the existing anti-blackness that constructed humanity before English encounters with sub-Saharan black Africans. So while Vaughan and Hall are correct in noting that the representations of blackness evolved from the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries, what did not change was the ontological position in which dramatist portrayed black flesh. Beginning with the devils in medieval pageants and continuing through the Interregnum, English drama contains a continuum of representations of blackness as equivalent to nonhumanity. Chapter One will trace the representations of blackness on stage, in literature, and in portraits of the black human figure from the late medieval period through the

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

26

Introduction

Restoration, the same period in which notions of racialized identities were in flux, to reveal a continuum of anti-black thought in the English psyche that coincides with the development of notions of the individual subject. In this chapter, I will show how representations of blackness on the stage came to be analogous to a form of living death. This association positions the black body on the stage within a triangulation of blackness, abjection, and social death. The chapter begins by reconfiguring notions of the purpose of black prosthetics in the representation of devils, arguing that rather than the English using blackness to represent devils, they used the inhuman devil to represent notions of blackness, thus adding death to the numerous meanings inherent in blackface cosmetics. The chapter then continues to argue that with the encounter with black flesh in 1501, the black body on stage, through the use of the same blackening prosthetics as stage devils, came to represent living death and became a form of structural commodity that, through its staging, confirms and enhances the recognition of one’s individual subjectivity. After the encounter with black flesh, the staging mechanism for blackness evolved, moving away from devils and morphing into humanized representations of black flesh that appear as manifestations of the subject’s wealth, the subject’s capacity for property, and the subject’s capacity for interlocution. These staged blacks do not own property, but rather appear as the property of a subject. These blacks also are devoid of any of the constituent elements of human identity, lacking dialogue, gender, nation, religion, and the other characteristics that would place them within the network of humanity. In the plays, they are deployed as commodity objects that simultaneously evoke both fear and wonder, but are incapable of creating sympathy or any other affective, human connection. They became the object of power relations, beings that were unable to negotiate within a relation, but must be negotiated by subjects. The chapter ends with showing how this association between the black body and social death continued into the Restoration through the portraits of nobles, thus establishing the appearance of black bodies on the Early Modern English stage as part of a continuum of the black body serving as an abject to human subjectivity. Chapter Two looks at ways in which Early Modern English drama displays the structural disparity between Moorishness and blackness. Reversing Ayanna Thompson’s argument that the English could read racialized bodies where they were not represented through prosthetic blackening techniques, this chapter argues that in spite of the similar prosthetic methods used to blacken both Moors and blacks on the stage, the English subject in the audience could read the difference between those presented as non-English human and those presented as nonhuman abjects. In other words, when Moors and blacks were presented simultaneously and with similar representational techniques, the audience could read the difference between human and nonhuman. George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar, Robert Greene’s adaptation of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, and a little known work titled Mr. Moore’s Revels are three pieces that vary in theatrical style,

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

27

genre, and performance practice, yet each reveal in different ways the nonhumanity of blackness while simultaneously presenting Moors as interlocutors in civil society. In The Battle of Alcazar, Peele presents two opposing views of Moorishness through his antagonist Muly Mahamet, referred to as black, and his adversary Abdelmelec, referred to as white. By presenting Moors as both black and white Peele alerts his audience to the humanity of Moors, making blackness not a constituent element of Moorishness, but rather a position outside the bounds of even Moorishness, an act that simultaneously reveals the a priori humanity of the “white” Moor. Greene adapts Ariosto’s famous work, Orlando Furioso, but alters global geography and the geographic origins of the characters to create a divide between those who are black and those who are non-black. Greene then, through the characters’ relationship to madness and their ultimate fates in the narrative of the play, positions those characters from black Africa as the abject of humanity. Mr. Moore’s Revels furthers the separation between non-black moors and black nonhumans by, literally rather than metaphorically, removing the humanity from black bodies and presenting them rather as animals who mimic Moors. In Chapter Three, I will take a look at Othello as an argument for the subjectivity of Moors, and argue that not only was Othello a white actor in blackface on stage, but was intended to be a White man, i.e. non-black, in the context of the play. Recently scholars such as Dennis Britton and Emily Bartels have begun to challenge the assertion that the play depends on Othello’s Otherness and have begun to reassess the importance of his belonging to the social world play.78 This chapter follows in that vein, but examines not just the effects of his potential belonging on the play, but the effects on the white psyche of his necessary belonging. Focusing on Othello’s belonging to humanity at the level of subjectivity challenges his status as an Other based on skin color or religion and opens the possibility that the true conflict of the play is not the external struggle between the white Iago and the black Othello, but Iago’s inability to cope with the recognition of Moors not as blacks, but rather as joint partners of civil society. The second part of this book, Chapters Four and Five, looks at the travels narratives of John Hawkins Queen Elizabeth’s slave trader, and William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus to reveal the ways in which the separation between blackness and humanity manifests in the psyche of the English subject and in the drama of the period. Chapter Four uses the narrative of John Hawkins’s second voyage to examine comparatively his first-hand encounters with black Africans, the embodied, sentient manifestation of abject blackness, and another people new to the English world, Native Americans. Looking specifically at this narrative, I will show that upon his initial encounter, humanity was never a consideration for black Africans, as opposed to Native Americans, whom Hawkins incorporates into civil society through recognition of their right to property and semiotic structures. I will then examine how the recognition of Native American

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

28

Introduction

structural sovereignty appears in drama by looking at representations of Native American humanity in William Davenant’s The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru. In the final chapter, I will examine Titus Andronicus as a political work that argues against the presence of blacks in England and their incorporation into civil society. In Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare, contrary to scholars who believe he was progressive in terms of race, presents speculation on a world in which the black Slave is incorporated into humanity. He presents the incorporation of Aaron, a black Slave who begins the play with no homeland, no family, and subject to violence, simultaneously with the downfall of civilization. The chapter argues that Aaron is represented as a theatrical and structural anomaly whose existence breaks down semiotic structures by breaking the barrier between antagonistic notions of absence and presence. With absence and presence existing in one place, Aaron begins to cause a phenomenon I call semiotic dissonance which ruptures civil society’s notions of honor, family, and language. Attempts to place the concept of blackness on the medieval and Early Modern English stage are manifestations of this semiotic paradox of blackness as always already undefinability. Since blackness lacks the capacity for interlocution, it can neither speak for itself nor can it make recognized contributions to the symbolic order, but rather is always spoken for through narratives constructed by the subject and the symbolic order. What appears on stage, then, is never blackness, but concepts of abject blackness. From devils in medieval cycles to black Africans on the Jacobean stage, representations of blackness reflect the subject’s psychological need to and inability to define and confront blackness as pure abjection.

Notes 1. Ania Loomba, “‘Delicious traffick’: Racial and religious difference on early modern stages,” in Catherine M.S. Alexander and Stanley Wells, eds., Shakespeare and Race (Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 201. 2. Ania Loomba, Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism (Oxford University Press, 2005). See chapter 1, “Vocabularies of Race.” 3. Elizabeth Spiller, Reading and the History of Race in the Renaissance (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 3. Many of the most influential writers on race in Early Modern England, including Kim Hall, Peter Erickson, Margo Hendricks, Mary Floyd-Wilson, and many others, are part of this tradition. 4. I refer to these issues as slippages for two reasons: (1) to call them “errors” is too harsh and would discount the brilliance of the works that I address in the following pages, and (2) the conflation is not always inherent in the works individually, but often become problematic when attempting to read the field as a whole. 5. Ayanna Thompson, Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage (New York: Routledge Press, 2008), p. 4. Although she names the gaze on page 4, the discussion continues throughout the entire volume.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

29

6. While other elements, such as blood kinship and the act of reading, have been suggested, one of these four structures defines most contemporary arguments of racialized identity difference. For a discussion of race as blood and kinship, see Jean Feerick’s Strangers in Blood: Relocating Race in the Renaissance. For a discussion on how the act of reading racialized beings, see Elizabeth Spillers’s Reading and the History of Race in the Renaissance. While both of these tracks of argumentation are interesting, they are not prevalent in the field. 7. I wish to reiterate here that this list is not all-encompassing and is not intended to be, but rather is meant to offer a succinct accumulation of arguments upon which studies of race in Early Modern England construct the subject. 8. While most studies of race in Early Modern England engage in some form of cross-category identity conflation, it would be impractical to address every one of them here. 9. Dennis Britton, Becoming Christian: Race, Reformation, and Early Modern English Romance (New York: Fordham University Press), 2014. 10. See the introduction to Dennis Britton’s Becoming Christian, 1–34. 11. Ibid., 1. 12. My modernization. 13. This conflation is one he willingly makes very early in the study, assuming that Moors and Ethiopes were both primarily identified by their blackness (Britton, 1). 14. Britton, p. 15. Even though he acknowledges the two are not the same and writes that it was likely the English had no first-hand knowledge of Ethiopians, he still reads the Ethiopians and Moors as equivalent and interchangeable. 15. In fact, as Britton notes, many Ethiopians were actually Christian (Britton, 3). Their skin color and inability to speak the English language often led to them being assumed pagans and thus subject to baptism. 16. For his full discussion of the topic, see Britton, Becoming Christian, pp. 24–34. 17. Laura Bovilsky. Barbarous Play: Race on the English Renaissance Stage (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press), 2008. The crux of Bovilsky’s argument is to “trace racist logics that are based in physical differences and ideas about the body, but also racist logics that arise from beliefs about culture, nation, ancestry, gender, religion, class, and other categories under whose rubrics group identities are forged” (my emphasis, 10). This forging, she argues is confirmed through “shifts in individual identity…that prove especially likely to precipitate racial signification” (33). In other words, the racialization of differences is a process that is reified through the fluidity of identity. 18. Bovilsky, 39. 19. Ibid., 49. 20. Loomba, Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism. See Chapter 1 for the full discussion. 21. Both the Manicheans and St. Augustine wrote about this in the first through fourth centuries CE. 22. This type of conflation of varying identities under the umbrella of color difference is not unique to Habib, but rather is almost universal in studies of race in Early Modern England. 23. Fryer acknowledges this conflation openly by defining black people as “Africans and Asians and their descendants.” Staying Power, ix.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

30

Introduction

24. While this conflation is problematic, it may be impossible to ever truly separate these groups, and individuals referred to as a member of any of these groups, from one another. In Early Modern English discourse, varying terms were deployed indiscriminately to refer to darker-skinned beings, making it almost impossible to determine the true national origin, religious background, and other characteristics of darker-skinned individuals historically. 25. Kim F. Hall, Thing of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press), 1995, p. 6. 26. Ibid., 8. Hall acknowledges the problematics of using the nomenclature “black” to refer to what is in actuality a large and diverse group of beings. 27. Ibid., 7–8. 28. Ibid., 23. Hall cites the deployment of blackness in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as part of a discursive network in which it simultaneously signals femaleness, foreignness, political upheaval, and chaos. 29. I understand that Hall is not claiming that we should interpret these relations as the same, but the conflation remains problematic. 30. Nabil Matar, Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), p. 8. 31. One could argue that Eldred Jones’s Othello’s Countrymen: The African in English Renaissance Drama (Oxford UK: Oxford University Press, 1965) was the first, but this book, while drawing attention to the presence and importance of African characters on Renaissance stages, does not work to define or position the role and workings of race within Renaissance English culture or society. 32. Spiller, Reading and the History of Race in the Renaissance, p. 4. 33. Virginia Mason Vaughan, Performing Blackness on English Stages, 1500–1800 (Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 1. 34. Ibid., 2. 35. Ibid., 3. 36. Stephen Greenblatt, Shakespearean Negotiations (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 8. In the introduction, Greenblatt argues for the capacity of Early Modern English drama to create meaning in addition to circulating it by interrogating the usefulness of mirror lore in discourse, claiming “Both optics and mirror lore in the period suggested that something was actively passing back and forth in the production of mirror images, that accurate representation depended upon material emanation and exchange” (p. 8). He does not, however, address the potential for two varying interpretations of “emanations.” Is he referring to emanation as something that “issues” from a source (which aligns with Vaughan’s interpretation of blackness as readable) or something that “originates” from a source (which allows the potential for blackness to create meaning)? It is the latter interpretation with which this study engages. 37. Jakob Burkhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860; New York: Barnes and Noble, 1999). 38. Ibid., p. 81. Elizabeth Spiller also cites this mode of self-fashioning in Reading and the History of Race in the Renaissance, p. 6. 39. Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (University of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 9. 40. This continued into the Early Modern Period, but we can also see the church influence waning.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Introduction

31

41. Depending on the source, England’s involvement in the crusades begins sometime around 1095 CE and continues to anywhere between 1190 CE and 1396 CE. 42. John Freccero, Dante: The Poetics of Conversion (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986). 43. Freccero particularly focuses on St. Ambrose’s Lucam (1774) and Ubertino de Casale’s Arbor Vitae Crucixfixae Jesu. For his complete discussion, see The Poetics of Conversion, pp. 167–179. 44. S’el fu si bello com’elli è or brutto. E contra ‘l suo Fattore alzò le ciglia Ben dee da lui proceder ogni lutto. Cited from John Freccero, “The Sign of Satan,” MLN, 80.1, “Italian Issue” (Jan. 1965), p. 17. 45. This is a fairly common interpretation. 46. In Purgatorio, Dante describes the gates of purgatory proper as having three steps (the following interpretations come from the notes of Dorothy Sayer’s translation): white, which signals the purity of the penitent’s “true self”; black, which is presented as sin and mourning; and red, which signals the blood of Christ and redemption (Canto 9). These interpretations are widely accepted, and clearly align white and black in opposition. 47. John Freccero, “The Sign of Satan,” Modern Language Notes, (1965 Jan, Vol.80(1), pp. 11–26), pp. 19–20. 48. Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (King James Version). 49. Thompson, Performing Race and Torture, p. 4. 50. Ibid. 51. Ibid., 71. 52. Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth Century America (Oxford UK: Oxford University Press, 1997). 53. Ibid., 5. 54. Ibid. 55. For a full discussion, see Hartman 4–10. 56. Thompson, Performing Race and Torture, p. 20. 57. Ibid., 24. 58. Karen Cunningham, Imaginary Betrayals: Subjectivity and the Discourses of Treason in Early Modern England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), p. 2. 59. Collections including the Olav Lausund and Stein Haugom Olsen edited Self-Fashioning and Metamorphosis in Early Modern English Literature (2003) and the Hank Dragstra, Sheila Ottway, and Helen Wilcox edited Betraying Our Selves: Forms of Self-Representation in Early Modern English Texts (2000), contain essays that address all the aforementioned constituent elements of identity in the construction of the subject. 60. Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning. 61. Cunningham, Imaginary Betrayals. 62. Cynthia Marshall, The Shattering of the Self: Violence, Subjectivity, and Early Modern Texts (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002). 63. Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning, p. 9. 64. Here I use the term quite loosely, as I am not reading contemporary theory into the period, but rather using this theory to articulate how subjectivity was

32

65.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

66.

67. 68.

69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76.

77. 78.

Introduction racialized in Early Modern English drama. In other words, I am not reading black nonhumanity into the period, but rather reading it out of the period. Although the theories associated with Afro-Pessimism existed as early as the work of Frantz Fanon in the 1950s, Frank Wilderson first used this term in his 2010 book Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms. Frank Wilderson, Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), pp. 58–59. Wilderson’s complete discussion of the ontology of blackness in relation to the Slave can be found in the introduction to Red, White, & Black. Wilderson centers Afro-Pessimism on “Fanon’s insistence that, though Blacks are indeed sentient beings, the structure of the world’s entire semantic field is sutured by Anti-Black solidarity.” Red, White, & Black, 58. Wilderson’s complete list can be found on page 58 of Red, White, & Black, where he calls attention to the fact that these types of structural meditations exist almost solely within the humanities, with only Patterson and Joy James being social scientists. This argument is first laid out in the beginning chapters of Orlando Patterson’s Slavery and Social Death (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982). Wilderson, Red, White, & Black, p. 49. Wilderson, Red, White, & Black, p. 39. For a larger discussion of constructing the self through opposition, see Stephen Greenblatt’s Renaissance Self-Fashioning. This interpretation is a deconstruction of Wilderson’s notion of a semantic field that depends on the incommunicability of the Black, which can be found on pages 58–60 of Red, White, & Black. Descartes’s formulation is famously solipsistic. He positions the self as a kind of conscious island with no means of verifying the existence of anything or anyone else. Throughout this volume the terms “Slave/Slavery” with a capital “S” refers to the ontological position of the socially dead Slave; “slave” with a lower case “s” refers to those beings engaging the experience of forced labor. As I have stated, it is not my purpose to decipher the Arab gaze, but historical discourse from the Arabian Peninsula supports notions of black abjection that did not apply to non-black slaves taken by the Arabs. This discourse aligns strongly with English notions of blackness as a Godly punishment, with one Arab poet stating “The blacks do not earn their pay by good deeds, and are not of good repute; The children of a stinking Nubian black—God put no light in their complexions!” (as qtd. in Lewis, Bernard (2002), Race and Slavery in the Middle East, Oxford University Press, p. 41). Even gender was transmutable. Stephen Greenblatt discussing the transvestitism, cross-dressing, and gender formations in chapter four of Shakespearean Negotiations, “Fiction and Friction.” See Chapter 4 of Britton’s Becoming Christian and Emily C. Bartel’s Speaking of the Moor: From Alcazar to Othello (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009). Others who have addressed Othello’s otherness on the grounds of his religion include Daniel Vitkus (Turking Turk: English Theatre and the Multicultural Mediterranean, New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003).

1

Staging Blackness

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

The Incapacity for Interlocution

From its earliest appearances on English stages, blackness represented the binary opposition of all constituent elements of English identity and subjectivity, appearing simultaneously as the abject of God, humanity, and community placing it within a position of absence. In addition to being a representation of abjection, early dramatists also positioned blackness as antagonistic to life, positioning it next to or existing within a position of death. This triangulation of blackness, metaphysical absence, and death continued from the fourteenth through the seventeenth centuries despite the fact that the narrative function and performative practices of black characters changed. Although notions of racialized identities were fluid in this period, this chapter examines the ways in which blackness was continually represented in visual culture as a racialized subjectivity that was the abject to human presence. Beginning with the devils in medieval cycle plays and continuing through the Restoration, representations of blackness on stage, in written drama, and later in portraits reveals the ways in which blackness performed within an adversarial relationship with conceptions and constructions of humanity and subjectivity. The purpose of this chapter is to examine the dominant trends in the visual representations of blackness that occurred from the late medieval period through the Restoration to reveal the ways in which Blackness exists in an incomplete semiotic relationship that establishes blackness as a signifier whose referent is immutable absence and social death. This representation of blackness as immutable absence positions black beings as incapable of human considerations for interactions within the semantic field, thus excluding them from consideration as human subjects. One item of importance that must be articulated before moving on is the methodology of this survey of blackness in English visual culture. This chapter engages blackness as a concept that existed in the Early Modern English psyche before the encounter with the black body. The chapter argues that before the encounter with the black body, a concept of blackness still existed and was used as the basis for medieval constructions of collective subjectivity. So while the concept of “blackness” existed as a stable locus of abjection, the beings that occupied that position in the psyche were not stable, and during the period of analysis, those who the English

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

34

Staging Blackness

represented as “black” in visual culture changed from devils to Moors to black Africans.1 This chapter offers a survey and examination of the varying classes of Others that occupied the position of blackness on a provisional basis within the collective conscious of the subject in both society and drama before English’s encounter with the black body. The purpose of this chapter, then, is two-fold. The first is to offer a survey of visual representations of blackness in England that positions the staging of black flesh on the English stage as part of a continuum of anti-Black thought in the English psyche. The second is to show how the encounter with black flesh caused a shift in that psyche away from collective notions of subjectivity and toward notions of the individual subject, both of which are fashioned through antiblack thought. The existing written records of medieval England construct the world as a series of hierarchical polarities in which presence is obtained through a relationship with some form of absence. Scholars tend to place the primary opposition for presence as a whole along religious lines, with John Cox arguing that the “binary distinction between God and the devil became the model for a series of parallel positions that influenced thinking about science, history, religion, and politics,” and, citing Stuart Clark, “demons were inherently oppositional because they were constructed as the subordinate term in a hierarchical polarity.”2 According to Cox, the notion of hierarchical polarities manifested in society through the dichotomies of “community and chaos, baptised and non-baptised, belief and heresy,”3 where the existing social norm was considered to have presence against what were mostly hypothetical and abstract absences. He argues that binary thinking was flexible enough to apply to anything, which he cites along with Stuart Clark as the system’s greatest flaw, claiming, “while almost anything could be made to fit the model of hierarchal polar oppositions, their infinite confirmability made them unstable.”4 It is this instability that I argue was ameliorated through anti-black thought and eventually through the black body. The foundation laid by these scholars when constructing a basis for the structure of medieval England extends into matters of subjectivity; the self, even as a collective, exists through its capacity to recognize and exclude its negation. This notion of hierarchical polarities is similar in nature to the notion of the symbolic order in that both theories construct the world along binaries of presence and absence. Cox is right in arguing that, in Christian doctrine, God is the creator and his binary opposition is the devil. What both Clark and Cox stop short of theorizing, however, is the way that this doctrine relates God to presence and the devil to absence and the space in libidinal economy from which absence arises in a world constructed by Christian religious ideology. Once this relationship is unpacked, we can analyze how this ideology establishes an inseparable link between the devil, blackness, death, and absence. The origin and continued nature of anti-blackness in religion can be traced and historicized, and examining this history raises questions about the nature of the connections scholars have between devils

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Staging Blackness

35

and blackness; specifically, it allows us to question if blackness is used to represent devils or if blackness and devils exist as one and the same, inextricably linked as the enemy of Godliness. The association between blackness and evil that appears in medieval and Early Modern Christianity derives from Manichean ideas of the universe being constructed along lines of light and dark. According to the doctrine, light is associated with godliness and dark is associated with evil. Manichaeism thrived between the third and seventh centuries and at its height was one of the most widespread religions in the world. Of particular importance for studies of anti-blackness is the Manichean story of how the universe unfolded through three creations, tales that can be reasonably reconstructed through extant texts, in which darkness precedes the beings associated with it.5 These myths offer an interesting proposition for blackness; in the Manichean religion, the Kingdom of Darkness always was, and the idea of blackness as evil preceded the idea of black beings existing. In other words, the blackness that created devils existed before the creation of devils. The devils, then, are not represented through blackness, but rather are embodied incarnations of a preexisting, evil blackness. The impact of Manichean ideas on early Christianity is apparent in translations and adaptations of the New Testament dating back hundreds of years, not from what these texts contain, but rather for what they lack. The Christian Bible does not contain the association between Satan and blackness that appeared on the stage or in traditional descriptions. The Bible describes Satan with numerous other terms, including “Devil” (Matt. 4:1), “Enemy” (Matt. 13:39), “Ruler of Demons” (Matt. 12:24), “Murderer” (John 8:44), “Liar and father of lies” (John 8:44), “Angel of bottomless pit” (Rev. 9:11), and most commonly “Serpent” (Rev. 12:9, 20:2; 2 Cor. 11:3). In fact, interpretations of extant Biblical texts in the medieval period only allow for two possible physical descriptions of the being referred to as Satan/Lucifer/ King of Hell, the first appearing in Revelations and the other in Genesis. Revelations chapter 12 describes Satan as a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns; this vision of Satan is repeated in the Book of Daniel. The other possible physical description of the devil is the result of interpretations of Isaiah 14:12–15, which appears in the King James Version of the Bible as “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” leading to conclusions that the fallen angel Lucifer is Satan. Although modern theologians have challenged this misconception,6 it is still a common teaching. In this case, Lucifer was the most beautiful angel, known as the “morning star” or “shining one,” both of which place him firmly as a being of light. Based on the actual words of the Christian Bible, which does not support the idea of devils being black, we must assume that this association was something taken from other sources.7 The most obvious and likely explanation for this association between the devil and blackness is that the idea is a result of Manichean teachings influencing Christianity.

36

Staging Blackness

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

While Manichaeism appears to be the source of a binary distinction between white and black, Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE), who had spent many years as a Manichean, aligned the concepts within the symbolic order, emphasizing the presence of light and the absence of dark. Augustine’s views on God established the basis for early Christianity, particularly his views on original sin, just war, and the creation. He believed that: …all things you [God] have made are good, and there are certainly no substances which you have not made. And since all things which you have made are not equal, they have an individual existence and also exist as part of a whole. They are good individually and likewise very good since God ‘made all things very good.’ (Gen. 1:31)8 In this passage, Augustine is offering a proto-Lacanian analysis of the symbolic order through the comprehendible analog of an omnipotent God. He positions God as the creator of all, and all that exists has a place within the symbolic order. This belief, however, left him perplexed by the existence of evil in the natural order established by an omnipotent, benevolent God. His answer to the paradox of evil was to remove it from the order, writing that, “all things which are corrupted are deprived of something good in them. But if things are deprived of all goodness, they will have no being at all.”9 Augustine reasoned that evil was not constituted of presence within the order, but rather that evil signified an absence of good within the order. This distinction led to a shift in the position of darkness from something that always existed as in the Manichean doctrine to a something that cannot exist, but rather is an undefinable void in the otherwise unyielding universality of God. Although he later denounced Manichean teachings, Augustine’s early Manichean influence is well-documented, and his own writings maintain the belief that God, and in turn all his creations, are defined and represented by light, echoing Biblical doctrine when he writes: Then we should say and they would hear, “The light of Your countenance is sealed upon us, O Lord” (Ps. 4:6–7). For we are not ourselves “that light which enlightens every man” (John 1:9) but we are enlightened by you so that “having been once darkness, we may be light in you.” (Eph. 5:8)10 By associating God with light and making everything that exists the product of God’s light, Augustine separates blackness from the capacity for being. So although Augustine denounces Manichean teachings, his new beliefs did not improve the position of blackness. Instead, Augustine retheorized the paradigm: he took a paradigm where light and darkness exist independently of one another as the founding antagonism of all creation and argued for a paradigm

Staging Blackness

37

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

that defines darkness purely as lack and absence. In doing so, Augustine established blackness as a paradox, positioning it as concept without a substance. Augustine’s teachings also lay the groundwork for notions of relationality within the symbolic order. He positions all things within the order established by God, regardless of the nature of the interaction, as subject to relationality, claiming that: To you, then, nothing at all is evil. This is true not only of you but of your whole creation, because there is nothing outside it to break in and corrupt the order which you have imposed on things. But in parts of creation because things clash with one another, they are thought evil: but those same things agree with other things and are good, and in themselves they are good. All these things that do not harmonize with one another are suitable to the lower part of reality which we call earth… There is no sanity in those to whom any one of your creatures is displeasing just as there was no sanity in me when many things which you have made displeased me.11 Augustine reasons that all things within the natural order created by God should find pleasure in knowing that they were each created by God, thus making the fact of creation the grounds for the capacity for relationships. Augustine has, however, removed blackness from the symbolic order, and in his act of denouncing its existence, establishes blackness as that which is not subject to the capacity for semantic relationships. In removing blackness from consideration within the symbolic order, Augustine also positions blackness as the locus for all disorder. Augustine, then, can be read as a sort of Lacanian avant la lettre philosopher, as the first to philosophize that evil, and the blackness associated with it, was pure absence that was incapable of both entering into and relating with the symbolic order. Not only can Augustine be read as arguing for the impossibility of blackness having substance or presence, but also, interestingly, he argued against seeking the origin of blackness. When writing about his search for the origin of evil that began as a challenge to the Manichean doctrine, Augustine wrote: Nevertheless whatever the cause might be, I realized that no explanation was possible which would force me to believe the immutable God to be mutable, lest I become what I am seeking, namely, the cause of evil. And so I sought it peacefully and was certain that what the Manichees said was not true. With my whole heart I renounced them because I saw that in their inquiries into the origin of evil they were full of evil themselves insofar as they preferred to believe that your substance could suffer evil rather than that their substance could do evil.12 Augustine’s teachings establish a haunting and ontologically terrifying existence for blackness. Not only does Augustine define darkness purely as

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

38

Staging Blackness

absence, but he argues that seeking the origins of darkness is an attempt to defy God’s established order and that doing so results in those involved in the search in turn being removed from it. In other words, Augustine argued that seeking to find and describe blackness could result in one becoming black. Examining the totality of Augustine’s teachings on the nature of evil and its association with darkness accomplishes three things. First, it renders darkness, and in turn blackness, as an absence that exists a priori outside the natural order. Second, it eliminates any potential for blackness to have a known, definable, or locatable origin. Third, it eliminates the potential for blackness to engage with concepts of relationality or presence. Augustine’s teachings about evil existing as the absolute negation of creation not only had implications for the ontological status of blackness, but they also complicated matters of presence for the subject. If everything has presence, then the capacity for relationships loses meaning within a symbolic order predicated upon the conflicting statuses of presence and absence. The construction of both community and identity depend on the subject’s capacity not only to establish a stable notion of the self, but also to differentiate from a stable notion of the self. The notions of presence upon which constructions of community and civil society depend lack stability without a concept of absence. Augustine’s arguments created a paradox for constructions of subjectivity: if everything that exists has presence, but notions of presence depend on absence, how are we then to construct a presence with no absence? By arguing that everything exists equally on the grounds of presence, Augustine problematizes the capacity to differentiate between identities by removing the possibility of an absence against which to confirm or solidify their presence. Augustine’s philosophy complicated matters of community by placing lived experience at odds with ontology; while Augustine taught that all of creation was one community ontologically based on their shared creation by God, subjects existing within community could literally see differences in numerous categories of identity. According to Augustine, the darkness in Manichean doctrine that was the foundation upon which the subject could ground his subjectivity does not exist and, more so, should not be sought for fear of becoming it. Removing this necessary foundation for subjectivity had the opposite effect for the subject: instead of forsaking the search and living as one community as Augustine hoped, Augustine’s teachings helped to destabilize the concept of community, leaving the subject to repeatedly attempt to define and represent ontological absence. In English history, numerous different entities have filled the position of a stabilizing absence, but these bad-faith constructions of abjection were usually temporary. Beginning in the medieval period, devils, witches, Jews, and Moors all occupied a position of social absence in the English consciousness, filling the space of absence for the construction of English subjectivity, and thus labeled “black.” Joseph Washington’s book Anti-Blackness in English Religion in 1500– 1800 begins with an analysis of how this Manichean divide manifests in

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Staging Blackness

39

Christian religions in Europe in the medieval and Early Modern periods, transforming from a conceptual aversion to blackness to an experiential repulsion of blackness. In other words, the notion of black as evil began to influence English society’s attitudes toward objects and peoples that are visibly darker than them. Washington traces the presence of blacks in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century studies of the Bible, arguing that “alongside the study of the classics in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, [it] brought to their attention blacks as they were known in antiquity…as people devoid of ultimate worth and redeeming social human value”13 to the white, English Christian subject. He uses primary sources from the period to link blackness to social death, citing Bishop Joseph Hall (1574–1646) who wrote that, “better had it been for Cham to have perished in the waters, than to live under his father’s curse.”14 Washington positions blackness within Early Modern English religion and society as “a natural but ‘denigrating quality’ to be endured, transformed, and contrasted (with ‘our whiteness,’ ‘angelical brightness,’ ‘fair or white people’), as ‘foul and black,’ ‘loathsome eyesore,’ ‘deform outer man,’ ‘jetty black,’ ‘complexions descend into a black,’ and ‘become coal-black.’”15 Washington’s writings position blackness as a basis for contrast to the white, Christian Englishman. In fact, Washington makes note of the propensity of the English in their public and private writings to equate black people not with humans but with devils by lauding the few scholars who attempted to dissuade such mainstream thought.16 Examining the religious discourse before the English’s encounter with the black body reveals how the presence bestowed by being one of God’s creations informs the English’s sense of subjectivity. As discussed earlier, before meditations on the individual self, religion provided the primary basis for presence and notions of collective subjectivity in late medieval England. Augustine teaches us that presence is defined as being one of God’s creations. This presence is constructed in opposition to an absence that directly links to blackness. While these doctrines provided a space for presence in creation, that position was stabilized by a space of conceptual absence that is occupied by blackness. So while this space of abjection has existed for centuries, the occupant of this space shifted over time based on experiential encounters. As time progressed and political and religious alliances and ideologies shifted, so did the referent of blackness. From 1200 CE to 1660 CE, Moors, devils, witches, and the black body all at one time or another occupied the position of absence that defined English subjectivity, and the staging of these beings can be read as representations of the absence of the black referent. The primary encounter with the black body, however, altered the conception of the subject. For the first time, a being entered into the English consciousness that could fill the position of absence a priori. For the first time, the position of blackness was not occupied by an entity known to civil society that was then removed from civil consideration, but rather a being became known to libidinal economy that occupied the space of absence without consideration. In other words, there is no instance of

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

40

Staging Blackness

the black African becoming the abject to the English, but rather in the first instance, the black African substantiated the notions of abjection that already existed in the English psyche. The ontological absence of the black body then became the basis upon which subjects could confirm their presence. The English then began displaying the black body as the corporeal manifestation of absence as a way to solidify their presence not only in libidinal economy, but also in the physical world. The ontological and social presence of the subject became confirmed and amplified in relation to the black body, making blackness a commodity that could be exploited in processions, on stage, and in portraits to enhance one’s subjectivity. Placing an entity that represents pure ontological absence through its sheer existence next to the subject allows the subject to confirm and perform their own presence. Moving forward, I will argue for the ways in which the varying appearances and visual representations of blackness in Early Modern England in medieval cycle plays, reveal how the subject visually represented blackness as a metaphor for death, and in turn exploited blackness as a locus of ontological absence to solidify their own presence.

Devilish Representation: The Correlation Between Blackness and Stage Devils in Medieval Cycles and Pageants The history of devils in English drama dates back to before the Reformation. Although historical evidence allows scholars to speculate that devils appeared in mystery plays as early as the tenth century, existing records indicate that devils first appeared in medieval pageants and cycle plays in the early fifteenth century in the Chester, York, Townley, and Coventry mysteries, which were performed as early as 1422.17 These devils are based on traditional sources from literature and folklore, so the representations on stage almost certainly derive from earlier sources. These devils, like most other topics from the period, have undergone intense scholarly scrutiny. The earliest major scholarly publication in English on the topic is L.W. Cushman’s The Devil and the Vice in English Dramatic Literature before Shakespeare (1900). Cushman gives a thorough survey not only of the appearances of devils in dramatic literature, but also of the dramatic, narrative, and social function of these devils. He argues that the devils on stage derived largely from traditional sources including literature, folklore, and art. Shortly after Cushman, E.K. Chambers’s The Medieval Stage (1903) dismissed Cushman’s assumptions and, as John D. Cox puts it, “offered…a narrative so coherent and persuasive that it continues to influence critical thinking about early English drama.”18 While Cushman’s works compiles and categorizes the appearances of stage devils, Chambers disagreed with much of Cushman’s categorization and the function of the devils, and he worked to recontextualize those appearances into a broader theatrical and social frame. Cox then presents a retelling of the history of stage devils that disputes Chambers’s

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Staging Blackness

41

assumption that “enlightened secularity was bound to flourish in the long run,” arguing that devils on the stage always represented the binary opposition to human wellbeing and concepts of community, regardless of whether the community is based on sacramental or secular ground.19 Despite their individual theoretical assumptions, one common fact these scholars acknowledge is that the appearance of devils in medieval cycle and pageant plays was the first deployment of blackness on medieval and Early Modern English stages. Cox and Cushman trace the appearance of black devils in drama back almost as far as the appearance of devils, citing stage directions indicating black devils as early as 1548–49, when the St. John’s College Cambridge Register of Inventories list “ij blak devells cootes with hornes.”20 The connection between the two is so imbedded in scholarship that Cox and Cushman assume that devils always appeared in both makeup and costume as black, with Cox often stating the assumption in his text with parenthetical phrases such as “(presumably black feathers)” and “The wings were presumably made of black feathers,”21 with the first of these assumptions extrapolating the fact of black devils to their appearance in 1499, fifty years before the St. John’s College stage direction. While the connection between devilishness and blackness is assumed, scholars always approach this connection from the same direction: that devils were represented as black. While this appears to be the case, I question the reverse dynamic of the assumption: what if, instead of blackness being used to stage devils, the concept of devils was used to stage theatrical representations of abject blackness? Theorizing on the reverse association is made possible by the fact that both the existence of the concept of blackness and the association between devils and blackness far predate their appearance on the stage. Examining the staging of black devils in relation to the Manichean influence on early Christianity reveals the possibility that devils actually derived from an a priori blackness. Scholars often assume that religion was the primary constituent element not just of cultural identity but of subjectivity, making the staged devil the primary point of reference in their work. Using modern theories of anti-blackness to approach the association from the opposite direction raises interesting questions and implications about the Early Modern English concept of blackness that challenge religious identification as the primary determinant of subjectivity, make religious difference a mere conflict of identities, and allow for the possibility that religious difference is built out of the concept of abject blackness. If we assume the primacy of religious identification in determinations of subjectivity, we must raise the question: why, then, use blackness, an abstract concept, to represent devils? Cox argues that medieval cycles staged devils to represent both politically and socially the failure of constructs of community, community that is established on a foundation of moral and religious practices and rights. Within a community founded in the principles established through scriptures relating to a Christian God, the devil represents the opposition to this divine right, the enemy of God.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

42

Staging Blackness

Adopting their framework of a subjectivity determined through the primacy of binary oppositions derived from Biblical doctrine reveals how much the intersection of blackness and religion is grossly undertheorized in studies of stage devils. Chambers, Cox, and Cushman all assume the visible blackness of stage devils without addressing that blackness as a constituted rather than constitutive element of the representation of devils. They assume that blackness is a technique to represent devils without considering the possibility that devils were used to represent abject blackness. The antiblack thought that existed in the period, however, has been a prominent, if mostly ignored by scholarship, feature of European religions that predates the medieval period. While numerous scholars acknowledge the intersection of religion and blackness, few scholars have addressed how this intersection exists as a metaphysical determination of notions of presence and absence. Most scholars who argue about blackness as it relates to religion assume that the difference is based in experience, while arguments about the metaphysical implications of blackness in religion theorize on the potential structural implications of being categorized as such. Studies of stage devils, or characters that are minions of these devils including witches, Jews, Muslims, etc., mostly rely on assumptions and associations that the audiences both of the original plays and of their modern critiques have with blackness without explaining or arguing for why these assumptions and associations exist. Cox and Cushman both discuss blackness tangentially through their theorization on black devils. David Brakke’s “Ethiopian Demons: Male Sexuality, the Black-Skinned Other, and the Monastic Self” (2001) argues that the visual darkness of the black Ethiope in early English literature was a trope to define evil.22 Ana Korhonen’s “Washing the Ethiopian White: Conceptualising Black Skin in Renaissance England” (2005) shows how the Renaissance English subject viewed the dark skin of the Ethiope as a sign of pervading sin.23 Numerous other important scholars of race in Early Modern England, including Imtiaz Habib and Ania Loomba, have addressed this intersection to varying degrees, but their scholarly tendency is to rely on assumptions about the origins of abject blackness without providing their source. The religious doctrines as presented on stage at the time dictate a separation between devils and mankind that is reminiscent of Manichean ideas of the binary between light and dark. Manichean preaching originating around 300 CE offered the idea the world is constructed along a binary between light and dark, and thus blackness became established as the stable abject to all that was good and pure. The Manichean God of Light created Adam and Eve, the parents of all mankind in the Christian Bible, out of remnants of light, thus making humanity associated with the light. In maintaining the binary formulations of the world that are prevalent in both Manichaeism and Early Modern English thinking, we can extrapolate that if man is composed of that which is light, then the abject of man, its binary opposite, is that which is dark.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Staging Blackness

43

This separation between the light of mankind and the darkness of devils is apparent in the representations of devils in the medieval cycles and pageants. Cushman argues that, “1. The devil of the Moralities, on the whole, does not come in contact with the human characters.…5. The devil does not represent human characters,” so representations of the two are, with only a few exceptions, kept separate.24 In the doctrine, however, the devil does interact with people, most notably in his appearance as the serpent who tempted Adam and Eve. Reexamining the staging of devils in relation to these two facts of Christian doctrine raises questions about the scholarly approach to the staging of devils. Christian doctrine contains the interaction between devils and humans while not linking devils to blackness; what is actually kept separate in the doctrine are humans and devils from blackness. This realignment shows that the source of the incapacity for human interaction with devils on stage is not a result of being a devil, but rather the source of the separation between the humans and the devils is the devils’ blackness. The human aversion to these devilish figures in staged interpretations of religious doctrine does not stem from the doctrine’s separation of humans from devils, which does not exist, but rather lies in the human’s aversion to blackness as incorporated from Manichean doctrine. Trying to argue which came first, the devil or the black, is not the point of this study, but rather, I argue that the appearance of devils was an attempt to represent the Manichean concept of abject blackness in medieval and Early Modern English theater through adopting a medium from Christian religious doctrine for which the audience had a stable signifier and referent. Blackness could not be represented on the stage as blackness, but guilds and playing companies could represent blackness through a socially understood medium of opposition, the devil. Reversing the scholarly assumption that blackness was an aesthetic technique to represent devils becomes moot when confronted with the possibility that the audience viewed devils as blackness incarnate. In other words, devilishness on the stage, regardless of the aesthetic appearance of the devils, was understood and interpreted as an attempt to give a comprehensible embodiment to the abstract concept of blackness. The staging of blackness through devils connects these early representations of blackness with the position of social death that defines the ontological Slave. To analyze the appearance and staging of devils in every one of the extant medieval cycle texts would completely railroad this study,25 I wish to engage the text for which we can be fairly certain devils were staged as visually black, the Coventry Cycle.26 In the first play of the Coventry Cycle,27 Creation of Heaven & Fall of the Rebel Angels, the audience is, as the title indicates, presented with the creation of the angels and the fall of Lucifer and the rebels.28 This text is important in establishing the connection between blackness and death on the stage and establishes the separation between blackness and life as divine providence. In the opening speech of the play, which is given by God himself,29 the players describe the omnipotence and

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

44

Staging Blackness

infallibility of God, stating “endeles I am thorw myn owyn myth.”30 He is described as the Holy Trinity: Father of might, Son of right, Ghost of light,31 thus aligning Godliness with light in concordance with Christian doctrine. He then goes on to describe his creation of the angels, who God creates for the sole purpose of serving and worshipping him.32 Lucifer, of course, defies God’s orders, and for his pride is subjected to a conversion from light to dark and an eternity in hell. It is in Lucifer’s conversion from light to dark in which we can read the association of blackness with death and abjection. As argued, the connection between Lucifer and blackness is not in the Christian Bible. While he is cast out of God’s light in the Bible, Lucifer is condemned to exist in darkness, not to exist as a black being.33 The difference between the two potential interpretations is stark. The Bible presents the darkness to which Lucifer is condemned as originating from an external source; Lucifer himself is not dark, but rather his existence is dark as he now exists outside of the light of God. The players of the Coventry Cycle, however, decided to internalize the darkness and represent the absence of God’s light within the physical body. The players of the Coventry Cycle, perhaps of their own accord or perhaps because of contemporary interpretations of the Bible, made the decision to present Lucifer onstage through blackness. So in this staging, the connection of visible blackness and the absence of God is not necessarily a religious mandate, but rather a theatrical choice. It was the players’ decision to position the blackened body of Lucifer as existing in the absence of God, thus making the medieval pageant stage the origin of the connection between the black body and metaphysical absence. The play continues on to then position Lucifer’s fall as a form of symbolic death. Lucifer concludes his final speech of the play with the following: LUCYFERE At thy byddyng þi wyl I werke, And pas fro joy to peyne smerte. Now I am a devyl ful derke, þat was an aungell bryht. Now to helle be wey I take, In endeles peyn þer to be pyht. For fere of fyre a fart I crake! In helle donjoon myn dene is dyth.34 (At thy bidding thy will I work And pass from joy to pain smart Now I am a devil full dark That was an angel bright Now to hell be way I take In endless pain there to the pit For fear of fire a fart I crack In hell dungeon mine den is dight.)

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Staging Blackness

45

Most of the passage is straightforward: Lucifer is cast out, converts from bright to dark, and forced to live in eternal pain in hell’s dungeon. What is particularly interesting is the use of the word “dyth” in the last line. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, dyth is an antiquated form of the word “dight,” which has sixteen distinct definitions, ranging from “to dictate, appoint, ordain, order, dispose of, deal with, treat” to “to lift, raise.”35 This particular form of the word, however, was most prevalent in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when the most common definition was “to cause, bring about, inflict death.”36 The Coventry Cycle then can be read as equating hell to death: In hell’s dungeon, my den is death. If we choose to follow this interpretation, not only is Lucifer’s punishment being blackened, but he is also placed into a state of death. This death, however, is not represented solely as an act: Lucifer does not die, but rather is cast into a state of perpetual death that, along with his newfound blackness, defines his being. Reading the Coventry Cycle and its staging of Lucifer as black, then, can be read as presenting a link between notions of absence and death and the black body on the early English stage. Establishing the staging of Devils as a medium to portray blackness in relation to death and absence in medieval cycles opens up new avenues of exploration into the potential purposes and results of the convention of staging devils. If these figures are meant to be not representations of devils, but rather representations of blackness, then what does their staging do socially, politically, and psychologically for the audience? Dorothy Wertz argues that one of the purposes of medieval morality plays was to resolve social conflicts in a nonviolent and nonthreatening manner, resolving these “conflicts by means of two basic psychological mechanisms: catharsis and cognitive processes.”37 Of the two, I find cognitive processes more interesting because of Wertz’s description that in cognitive processes, “the main therapeutic value lies in the realignment of conflicting elements by representation…by presenting what was formerly a vague and confused relationship in visible form…the actors make conflicts manageable.”38 She is referring to the supernatural forces of good and evil, but the “vague and confused” relationships between God and the devil and between man and the devil were both well-documented in scripture and existing art and literature, and in fact made quite clear through the understood but unstable concept of binary oppositions that structured the medieval world view. The relationship that escaped doctrine and manifested on the stage was not between man and the devil, but between human life and black death. In addition to this, the staging of blackness through devils helped to resolve issues of subjectivity by providing a stable foundational abject upon which to construct the self. Wertz argues that, “by representing the unknown and mysterious on the stage, the religious drama helped to structure and to change the popular attitude toward the forces governing the moral and religious spheres of existence.”39 Through reexamining the portrayals of devils as representations of blackness, the Coventry Cycle plays

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

46

Staging Blackness

were operating on two levels: consciously, where they perpetuated moral and religious attitudes; and subconsciously, where they perpetuated a message of blackness as a locus of death and absence. Portraying blackness through the digestible form of religious symbols, the subject could identify as a human religiously through his opposition to devilishness and through his opposition to blackness, simultaneously confirming his subjectivity in a paradigm that was shifting, as Chambers argues, from superstitious to secular. The Coventry Cycle offered the viewing subject the opportunity to recognize not only the proper moral behavior through identification with the characters and situations, but also his self at a structural level through the same scenarios. In agreement with Wertz’s conclusion, “ego-mastery by identification with characters of fantasy brings hidden parts of the self into awareness and tries to establish equilibrium between them; it allows trial of socially forbidden roles in a situation where they do no harm; and it even allows men to express their desires to become part of the cosmic forces,”40 I argue that Coventry Cycle plays presented the opportunity for the early modern subject to face the unknowable and incomprehensible, notions of black abjection, in a digestible format. In addition, the Coventry Cycle plays allowed the subject to address conflicts that exist beyond the realm of conscious recognition and to confirm not only their identity, but their subjectivity and the essence of their humanity as constructed against blackness. In other words, the effectiveness of Coventry Cycle plays was not only in affecting the populace through external stimuli, such as the presentation of doctrine to a largely illiterate population, but also in evoking a psychological reflection within the viewing subject. The staging of devils, then, becomes not a medium to resolve conflicts of religious identities, but rather using devils to stage the link between blackness and death is an attempt to resolve the base paradigmatic antagonism that constructed the Early Modern subject, the divide between blackness and non-blackness. Following Vaughan’s argument that blackface readily and easily portrayed a recognized, but evolving, set of meanings,41 then it is possible that the death that is positioned alongside blackness within Lucifer could transfer to other characters through the use of blackening prosthetics. Positioning Lucifer as a manifestation of death through narrative and representing him through blackening prosthetics served to link the appearance of the black body on the stage with notions of death and abjection.

Silence Is Not Golden, but Black: Staging the Paradoxical “Black Human” The convention of staging blackness through devils that existed in cycles and pageants through the medieval and Early Modern periods did not necessarily translate to the commercial stage of the late sixteenth century. Records of devils being portrayed as black predate the commercial playhouses by more than 100 years, but the commercial playhouses of the time did not

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Staging Blackness

47

always engage in this well-established tradition. Plays such as Marlowe’s The  Tragicall History of Doctor Faustus contain numerous demons and devils that are not indicated as black in text, and there is no indication of the devils’ color in performance.42 While Mephistophilis first appears in the play as “too ugly,” the text offers no indication as to what this ugliness consists of.43 None of the other devils is described as “black,” and depending on the text used, the term only appears once or twice in the play, each time describing the power of Mephistophilis.44 So while blackness is clearly still used as a signifier for the inhuman, this section looks to reveal why the English no longer felt the need to stage devils as black figures. To do so, I will argue that the encounter with the black body and its representation on the stage made the triangulation of the devil, blackness, and inhumanity an unnecessary redundancy that was superseded by the black human figure. The appearance of non-black devils does not mean that blackness was no longer staged, but only that the medium through which it was represented changed. By the time the commercial stages of London began to flourish in the late 1500s, the black human figure had been introduced into the English paradigm through encounters with black Africans. Instead of staging black devils, the commercial theater began to stage these black human figures. Through these stagings, however, the English reveal the paradoxical nature of notions of a “black human.” Although matching the English subject in physical form, the methods used to stage these black characters and their interactions within their respective plays’ narrative and semantic fields reveals a rupture between notions of blackness and humanity. So while they put black flesh on the stage, Early Modern English dramatists struggled to produce a black human being with the capacity to fully communicate with civil society. In their attempts to place the black body onstage, commercial dramas instead staged numerous unnamed, silent black characters that, although no longer devils, still presented blackness as the abject of humanity. While previous manifestations of blackness in England were treated with fear and exclusion, the black body was a site loaded with ambivalence, with the responses ranging from anxiety to a form of grotesque wonder. As noted in my introduction, the linguistic relationships established through the symbolic order were very much in flux at this time, so analyzing the effects of the black body on the subject’s libidinal economy requires examining the discourses on blackness found not just in written texts, but in events, images, and performances as well. I believe this process of scholarly interpretation has been severely limited by the focus on the written archive, and that applying this same methodology to visual and theatrical realms opens up the possibilities of enriching our understanding. My aim is not to denigrate the written archive in any way, but rather to elevate the status of nonwritten works as historical evidence by placing the discourses in which they engage in conversation. The analysis of nonwritten work is no less scholarly than the analysis of written work, although it may sometimes require more speculation.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

48

Staging Blackness

While the conscious reactions found in the content and context relating to the black body in Early Modern English texts, plays, performances, and images varied greatly, the black body tends to promote an unchanging discourse of ontological meditations on the status of both blackness and the subject. While fear, anxiety, excitement, and disgust were all common reactions to the black body, the subject used blackness as a way to confirm his or her status as a subject. The earliest remaining written evidence of blacks in sixteenth-century England dates to the year 1501, when the Spanish Princess Catherine of Aragon arrived in England with her royal retinue. While fiftyone members of the Spanish princess’ household are listed as traveling with her to England, modern scholars estimate the true number could have reached 150, including “two slaves to attend on the maids of honour.”45 The use of “slave” in this context signals the figures’ black African origin. As Saunders notes in A Social History of Black Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal 1441–1555, the Portuguese words “mauro” meaning “moor” and “escravo” meaning “slave” had developed separate connotations in common usage, with the latter referring almost exclusively to people of black African descent.46 The connection between Slavery and blackness then is one that existed for the Spanish before their introducing the black body to England. Sir Thomas More, of whom we have no evidence that he ever read the letter describing the Spanish entourage, adopted the Spanish association between blacks and Slavery as well as continued the English connection between blacks and the devil. He commented on the procession in a letter to an Oxford fellow by the name of John Holt. His letter includes the following passage: Catherine, the illustrious daughter of the King of Spain and bride of our distinguished Prince, lately made her entry into London, amid a tremendous ovation; never, to my knowledge, has there been such a reception anywhere. The magnificent attire of our nobles aroused cries of admiration. But the Spanish escort—good heavens!—what a sight! If you had seen it, I am afraid you would have burst with laughter; they were so ludicrous. Except for three, or at the most four, of them, they were just too much to look at: hunchbacked, undersized, barefoot Pygmies from Ethiopia. If you had been there, you would have thought they were refugees from hell.47 While his letter does not state explicitly how many black people were in Catherine’s party, in addition to the two slaves, he mentions that only three or four were “tolerable” to look at, which assumes none of the rest were “fair,” but had some “color” to their skin.48 I do not wish to engage in speculation of the racial and aesthetic makeup of Catherine’s retinue, but rather to analyze the text of More’s letter.49 Habib argues that the English viewed the inclusion of blacks in the entourage as “proud advertisements of an ambitious Christian Spain’s recent

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Staging Blackness

49

Imperial achievements” and “ridiculous pomp.”50 Building on Habib’s arguments, I wish to take a closer look at More’s description and tone regarding the sight of black bodies. Habib argues that More’s tone is one of “contempt (“burst of laughter”), then of ridicule (“ridiculous”), and finally of anger (“escapees from hell”). It is almost as if an instant anxiety fuels this catalogic growth.”51 While I find his reading both fascinating and agreeable, I wish to offer an alternate reading that goes one step further and attempts to flesh out at what level of abstraction this anxiety exists. Interestingly, the appearance of black bodies in the royal train is the only visual feature that warrants a response and rationalization for More as he explicitly comments on the “hunchbacked, undersized, barefoot Pygmies from Ethiopia.” I propose that the “burst of laughter” be read not as contempt for the Spanish party, but rather as a sign of psychic shock, as the only rational response of a subject recognizing that his subjectivity is in crisis. As discussed, the Early Modern subject was still fleshing out notions of subjectivity based on individuality that were distinct from longstanding notions of hierarchical polarities that defined subjectivity though collectives. With the association between blackness and devils, which More acknowledges by calling the black bodies “refugees from hell,” blackness existed as an abstract notion of absence within this chain of polarities. What we then see in the first clause of More’s passage is the psychic shock of a paradigm simultaneously shifting away from collective identity and toward individual subjectivity while challenging the foundation of the latter in the process. Upon first sight for More, the black body instantly became the locus of notions of blackness that existed as abstract absence; blackness moved from something that was imagined in the collective consciousness as devils and evil to something corporeal upon which to ground notions of individual subjectivity. For More, the sight of these polar opposites, namely corporeal manifestations of blackness and non-blackness, granted the subject a foundation upon which to ground notions of the body and the self. Upon witnessing the black body, More’s psyche recognized its capacity for individual presence in relation to the existence of individual bodily absence. The ridicule that follows, then, becomes an attempt to rationalize this clashing of presence and absence in the bodily manifestation of abstract absence. Finally, the last clause, “refugees from hell,” which Habib reads as anger, I wish to argue is one of disbelief at the recognition of mutually exclusive notions of body and absence. More does not grant these black bodies the capacity for presence within the paradigm of humanity, but rather refers to them as “refugees”; however, they are refugees that escaped from hell, a point of origin that lacks presence. This notion of the blacks as refugees from a place of absence is in line with both Augustine’s notions of blackness and absence and Orlando Patterson’s theory of the Slave’s natal alienation. This leads to the conclusion, then, that these beings are ontological refugees to More; he recognizes them as beings whose homeland is void, thus making them beings of absence, and thus outside of the Great Chain of Being as theorized

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

50

Staging Blackness

by Augustine. Positioning the black bodies as beings of absence from a place of absence challenges their capacity for spatiality; they exist, but both their existence and their origin are a void, they are refugees with no land to return to, beings of pure absence who cannot lay a claim to space within the realm of presence. The phrase “refugees from hell,” as Habib argues, “hint[s] at the instincts of separation and containment that will mark the Anglo-European response to black people in subsequent history.”52 The anxiety that Habib notes, then, is not just social or personal anxiety, but rather the anxiety created by recognizing the instability of one’s own subjectivity. With blackness already facilitating notions of presence through religious discourse, the black body becomes the mechanism that places abstract concepts of absence in the corporeal world. While the black body could not be defined (for how does one define absence?), it entered into epistemology as a signifier detached from its referent, as an entity that was not defined, but rather one exploited to define something or someone else. The black body was immediately recognized as the physical and metaphysical manifestation of absence that grounds notions of individualized presence in Early Modern England. The recognition of an ontological disparity between the black body and More himself made its appearance under the dominion of the Spanish a violent affront to existing notions of presence and subjectivity as defined in opposition to blackness; the Spanish control over the black body simultaneously confirmed Spanish subjectivity while challenging the status of the English. The ambivalence toward the black body existed from the first encounter; it was an object that provoked a conscious response of disgust while simultaneously inciting a conscious desire to possess it. Possessing and displaying the black body and one’s dominion over it came to be recognized as a way to assert one’s own subjectivity by juxtaposing the a priori absence of the black body with its opposite in a manner that bestows presence upon the non-black. In light of this discourse, the staging of black human figures can then be read as attempts to articulate the subjectivity of the English by positioning blackness as the abject to human life, as a form of living death. As early as 1587, commercial dramatists began staging black characters. Though not always staged in modern productions, these blacks appear in both well-known and obscure early modern plays. These stage blacks, much like those in society, do not appear in drama under a stable linguistic identifier. Although the signifiers differ, naming them Moors, Blackamoores, Negromoores, Negroes, and Blacks among others, if we look beyond the terms used to describe them and analyze the conventions of their staging, we can uncover an ontological divide based on their color that positions some of these characters purely as a spectacle with no semiotic reciprocation with human subjects and a lack of interlocutionary capacity. In other words, in 1587, dramatists began staging the link between blackness and death that originated in the devils of the Coventry Cycle in the black human figure. The staging of black bodies as a manifestation of living death can most easily be articulated through the works of Christopher Marlowe, in particular

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Staging Blackness

51

The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus and Tamburlaine. Marlowe is one of the few professional playwrights to stage both devils and black humans. If we look at Marlowe’s Tamburlaine (1587…interestingly the same year that witches first appeared on stage), we see the earliest black human bodies on the Early Modern English stage.53,54 The stage direction at the top of act 4, scene 2 reads, “Enter TAMBURLAINE, TECHELLES, THERIDAMAS, USUMCASANE, ZENOCRATE, ANIPPE, two MOORS drawing BAJAZETH in a cage, and ZABINA following him.” It is in moments like this that we must separate the linguistic descriptors from the ontological considerations granted the characters. Although the stage direction refers to “two Moors,” reading this play in relation to the discourse of the time creates a separation between notions of Moorishness and these two characters. At the writing of this play, the English had had encounters with both Moors and blacks, approaching the former intending to establish relations while approaching the latter intending to enslave and dominate. In essence, at the first instance, the English encountered Moors as humans and encountered blacks as nonhuman. By the time of the play’s writing in 1587, England already had commercial and diplomatic enterprises with the Moors,55 ultimately culminating in the arrival of the Moorish ambassador Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud in 1600. The depiction here of the black characters is the result of numerous discourses and staging conventions converging into one locus. On the one hand, we have the blacks appearing as beasts of burden that have no voice but are defined only by their race.56 This presentation aligns strongly with More’s reaction to the black slaves in Catherine of Aragon’s retinue. Marlowe stages a continuation of notions a black existing as natural Slaves. The other discourse and convention contained within these black bodies derives from the Coventry Cycle, where the blackness of the devil coincided with notions of perpetual death. These blacks in Tamburlaine would have been represented through some form of blackening prosthetic, allowing the meanings created in the staging of devils to transfer to the non-devilish black figure. So, in these black characters, we can read a convergence of discourses that presents the black body simultaneously as a locus of Slavery and death, both of which are inherent in the black body and not a result of any experiential action or transgression. This convergence of Slavery and death that is read in the black body coincides with a depiction as beings that are not granted the capacity to relate within the semantic field. They lack the considerations of presence that are established through interlocution or interiority. This staging of black bodies then becomes rife with meanings and converging discourses. They are staged: (1) through the convention of blackface, which already had a connection in the theatre to death; (2) in a position of Slavery; and (3) as lacking the capacity for interlocution with civil society within the narrative. With all of this in mind, it then becomes possible to link the staging of the black body to notions of social death and the Pattersonian Slave ontology. I do not believe Marlowe made this convergence through coincidence, although he may have done so subconsciously. As I mentioned, in addition

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

52

Staging Blackness

to being the first to stage black human bodies, Marlowe also staged perhaps the most prominent devils in Early Modern English Drama. Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus (1594) is perhaps his most well-known play, and the text contains numerous devils. Of particular interest to this study is that nowhere in the text does Marlowe describe these devils as black. While it is possible that the convention of black devils was so imbedded in culture that their blackness went without saying, I wish to propose the possibility that with the encounter with the actual black body, black devils became less effective in constructions of subjectivity, and therefore unnecessary on the stage. As discussed, constructions of subjectivity fluctuated greatly between the era of medieval cycle plays and the Early Modern English stage, shifting from constructions based on collective identities to constructions of the individual self. With religion serving as the primary determinant of this collective subjectivity in the medieval period, it makes sense that notions of life and death/presence and absence would be communicated through the opposition of God and the devil. I have also discussed how through Augustine’s teachings and the influence of Manicheanism on early Christianity these notions became intertwined with notions of light and dark, also read black and white. If the recognized antagonist of the collective human self as defined by religion is the black devil, if even the medieval English collective religious subject defined itself in opposition to blackness, then is it possible that the transition from collective subjectivity to notions of individual subjectivity that emerged in Early Modern England is predicated on the encounter with the corporeal black body? That perhaps the encounter between the English and the black African was the impetus for emergence of discourse on the individual subject? This seems to be the case in Marlowe. He stages the black human body in 1587, and then stages non-black devils in 1594. He transfers the notions of death and abjection found within the stage devil onto the black body. With the ability to confirm his subjectivity through an actual, corporeal manifestation of the nonhuman black, the usefulness of presenting a black death through a mythological character, the devil, diminishes. The question then becomes how was the English audience able to read the difference between Moors and blacks when both would have been presented through the same prosthetic methods. As I have argued, we cannot rely solely on linguistic identifiers to distinguish between characters portrayed as ontologically black and characters who are black in color but intended to be read as humans. We must look at the ways in which these characters interact with the plays in which they exist. Ayanna Thompson makes a similar argument in Performing Race and Torture.57 In chapter 2, Thompson eloquently argues for the capacity of the audience to read a racialized body on the stage in the absence of blackening prosthetic. In short, she argues that the subject could read race where none was represented. My arguments for the representation of abject blackness as opposed to mere prosthetic blackness require a reversal of Thompson’s argument. If the subject is able

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Staging Blackness

53

to read raced bodies in the absence of racializing prosthetics, then perhaps the subject could read human bodies in the presence of blackening prosthetics. In other words, the convention of blackface did not automatically signal a character’s ontology just as the words used to describe a character did not automatically signal a character’s ontology. The subject was able to distinguish between those beings marked human and those marked inhuman despite the fact that blackening prosthetics could be deployed in both instances.58 Shakespeare also staged black characters, but shifted the nature of their spectacle; they move from enhancing the power of subjects through the blacks’ relation to labor and property to enhancing the status of the subject through mimesis. Love’s Labour’s Lost (1595) offers a different opportunity for blacks on the Early Modern stage, as it is the first play to use multiple unnamed blacks as more than set dressing. Instead of needing blacks to transport characters, Love’s Labour’s Lost requires black musicians to appear onstage. While many of Shakespeare’s plays require onstage music, the Folio stage direction in act 5, scene 2, “Enter blackamoors with music” (5.2.156) is the only moment that specifically calls for black musicians and is the only time Shakespeare refers to a character as black with his own voice in a stage direction and not speaking through another character. The reasons Shakespeare calls specifically for Blackamoor musicians are unknown. Dympna Callaghan argues that this stage direction “bespeaks fantasies of a presence about people who, for reasons far in excess of problems of geography and practicality, could not possibly have been onstage.”59 Despite her claim, evidence argues for these blacks being geographically available and their use being practical.60 The first recorded performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost occurred in the court of Queen Elizabeth during the Christmas season of 1597, when Queen Elizabeth was known to employ black musicians in the court.61 The stage direction could have been written to make use of her musicians and gain favor. It is also possible that the performance predates the stage direction, and that the stage direction was written to record the use of Elizabeth’s black musicians. In either case, the blacks are absent the semiotic reciprocation required for humanity because they cannot interact with the other characters and are defined solely through their mimicry of European culture. Although the specifics of the appearances of the black characters listed here change, the characters all present a common ontological separation from humanity that goes beyond their servile positions. Servant characters in Early English drama are quite common, and the role of servant in Early Modern English theater is not limited to blacks. What differentiates the black character in a servile role is the lack of interlocution as defined as semiotic reciprocation. Blacks on the Early Modern stage could not participate in the network of semiotic reciprocation composed of the endless cycle of expression, reception/expression, and expression/reception. The psyche of the subject could not bestow a transmittable form of language onto the

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

54

Staging Blackness

undefinable Black absence, so they remained silent. This silence, however, is not just verbal silence, but signals an absence within the symbolic order. As a signifier without a referent, blackness lacks the capacity to be understood for what it is, but is always understood as what the subject is not. The black body, then, is not a source of meaning, but rather is a vacuum of meaning for the subject; being devoid of the capacity for expression, it becomes the locus that the subject uses to designate something missing. From their first appearance on the stage, blacks were incapable of interlocution with subjects, instead maintaining an existence that was undefined in and of itself and presented only in relation to their capacity to enhance the status of the subject through either subjection or mimesis. The lack of interlocution combined with their physical presence positions blacks simultaneously as spectacles and victims; they are unable to engage semiotically with the subject while simultaneously performing the needs of the subject.

Blacks as Ontological Capital in Restoration Portraits While the Early Modern English first used the black body to confirm their subjectivity through its use on the stage, the use of black bodies as a form of ontological capital extended outside of the playhouses. The use of black bodies as a form of cultural capital has been noted by scholars in the case of English events. Early in the sixteenth century, royals used blacks in performances and pageants as an exotic way for the British elite to display their power. To the English, “possession of a black slave was an emblem of riches, rank and fashion,”62 and “rich people would often display their wealth and good taste by dressing their black slaves in special costume.”63 I wish to build on Fryer’s initial response to the displaying of black bodies as a show of material wealth and meditate on the possibility of blackness existing as a form of ontological capital; while dressing the black body in fine clothes became a symbol of wealth, the owning and displaying of the black body came to serve as a symbolic confirmation of one’s presence. A series of events from the 1590s helps to illustrate the ontological effects of the black body on notions of subjectivity. In the 1590s, inflation and famine plagued England, mostly caused by four consecutive poor harvests, including two of the four worst of the century, from 1594 to 1597.64 In an attempt to calm civil unrest, Queen Elizabeth on July 11, 1596, sent an open letter proclaiming that, despite the fact that blacks performed in her court, there were too many blackmoores in England. She reasoned that England had enough mouths to feed without their presence, and so she declared that the blacks most recently brought into the country by Sir Thomas Baskerville were to be deported because, “there are allready here too manie,” and “those blackmoores that in this last voyage under Sir Thomas Baskerville were brought into this realme…be transported by him out of this realm.”65 A  week later, in what was her second public comment on blacks, Queen Elizabeth sent a proclamation to the Lord Mayor of London and all other

Staging Blackness

55

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

public officers stating that a merchant by the name of Casper van Senden had arranged the release of eighty-nine English prisoners in Spain and Portugal in exchange for an equal number of blacks. Her proclamation stated: Considering the reasonablenes of his requests to transport so many blackamoores from hence, [we] doth thincke yt a very good exchange and that those kinde of people may be well spared in this realme… [subjects] are therefore… required to aide and assist him to take up such blackamores as he shall finde within this realme…considering her Majesty’s good pleasure to have those kinde of people sent out of the lande.66 The government then seized the necessary number of blacks from their masters, without offering compensation, and presented them to a German slave-trader.67 While the proclamation did allow van Senden to collect the eighty-nine negroes needed for the release of the prisoners, neither history nor scholarship present the warrant as a serious attempt to deport all blacks from the kingdom. In 1601, the Queen issued another more direct edict, declaring she was, …highly discontented to understand the great number of negars and Blackamoores which are crept into this realm who are fostered and relieved here to the great annoyance of her own liege people, that want the relief, which those people consume, as also for that the most of them are infidels, having no understanding of Christ or his Gospel.68 Elizabeth’s discontent at the existence of blacks led to what can be read as an attempt to banish blacks from England. However, she did not expect people to surrender their blacks willingly, as she had in 1596. This time, Elizabeth commissioned van Senden to arrest and transport the negroes out of the country in what is without a doubt an attempt to rid the kingdom of the blacks. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, as James Walvin argues, by the time the decree was issued, blacks had become too embedded into the social fabric of England to be removed.69 A closer examination of these events raises questions about the value of the black body for the English subject. The first two decrees, issued within a week of each other, reveal the English subjects’ unwillingness to relinquish control over the black body even in the name of the law. While the first decree stated the specific blacks to be gathered and removed from the kingdom, the second decree did not specify which blacks, only the number of them. In this case, Queen Elizabeth was requesting that citizens willingly turn their blacks over to the crown so they could be exchanged for English citizens. Her request, however, was not met with enthusiasm. While historical records do not record any individual responses to this decree, these same records do state that English subjects did not willingly turn over black

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

56

Staging Blackness

bodies in their possession, but rather the blacks that were exchanged for the English prisoners had to be seized. So it would appear that the English subject designated the black body as having a value worth defying a royal decree. The owners of the black bodies would rather defy the crown and forsake their fellow subjects than relinquish whatever ontological status they gained through the ownership of blacks, even though blacks were a commodity that could be bought and sold. That control of blackness outweighed the financial value of black bodies, the rule and punishment of laws, and ideas of community signals that the ontological implications of owning and controlling blackness were valued at a level of abstraction that cannot be quantified within the realm of human experience, allowing blackness to function as a form of ontological capital that subjects used to control and substantiate their presence. This notion of black ontological capital resonates in the fact that Queen Elizabeth found blackness, particularly the black body, as a threat to the realm that had to be removed, unlike non-black Others. While she cites the discontent of her citizens toward blacks in her final decree, their unwillingness to surrender them contradicts her claim. In fact, her decree arises from her own discontent toward the number of blacks being kept by her subjects in the country. The thought of a being that is essentially a nonentity in terms of law and social status being a challenge or threat to the monarchy forces speculation on the source of the anxiety generated for the crown by the appearance of the black body. The anxiety does not stem from their presence in the realm, but rather the effect their metaphysical absence has on the presence of her subjects. Although Elizabeth was a powerful monarch, the metaphysical value of black absence on the presence of the subject was a form of power that Elizabeth could not control or challenge, so she attempted to eliminate their physical presence. If there was ever any doubt as to the ineffectiveness of Elizabeth’s decree, the evidence of blacks in seventeenth-century England should put the doubts to rest, particularly the appearance of blacks in portraits of nobility. Imtiaz Habib’s research has shown that, “despite the attempt to expel black people at the end of the sixteenth century, they continue to appear in English records in the following one in equal if not greater numbers and frequency.”70 Since Elizabeth could not control the metaphysical effects of blackness, she invested heavily, along with the rest of her Privy Council, in the domination and accumulation of black bodies. While the first legislative ruling declaring Africans in England “slaves” was not until the year 1677, evidence shows a steep increase in the amount of money invested in African trading companies beginning in 1604, much of which came from the crown and members of the Privy Council.71 This boom in investment capital facilitated the revival of British slave trade to America in August 1619.72 While the money was invested with the intention of trading slaves with the New World, the money invested in the triangle trade financed approximately 100 voyages between England and Guinea for the purposes of retrieving

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Staging Blackness

57

blacks.73 The slave trade caused so great an influx in the number of blacks into England that by the Restoration in 1660, it became the fashion for titled and eminent persons to keep blacks as “pets” or novelties.74 Although not becoming a mainstream trend until the Restoration, the trope of the black human figure as a pet that appears in portraits of nobility demands discussion because these still images function as a performance of ontological presence and help to establish the continuum of black inhumanity for which I have argued. In three particular portraits, those of those of Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth (1682); Mary Somerset, Duchess of Ormonde (1702); and Frederick Armond de Schomberg, the Duke of Schomberg (1689), the black body figures prominently.

Figure 1.1 Portrait of Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth by Pierre Mignard. Oil on canvas, 1682. 47 1/2 in. × 37 1/2 in. (1207 mm × 953 mm). Image courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

58

Staging Blackness

Figure 1.2 Mary (Somerset), Duchess of Ormonde by and published by John Smith, after Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt mezzotint, 1702. 16 3/4 in. × 10 5/8 in. (424 mm × 270 mm). Image courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London.

In each of the three portraits, the black body is dressed in extravagant costume that mirrors that of the opposing subject. Clothing was of utmost importance in Early Modern and Restoration England, so important that dress was regulated by sumptuary laws, as clothing was used to determine rank, wealth, and social status. These laws existed to attempt to curb extravagance and spending that could be better used to serve the kingdom, to distinguish between social ranks, and because the crown and church believed that allowing people to dress how they wished would lead to moral decline. In other words, not only was it improper to dress one’s servant as one’s self, but it was in fact illegal. Regardless of the effectiveness of these laws, which

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Staging Blackness

59

Figure 1.3 Frederick Armand de Schomberg, 1st Duke of Schomberg, published by John Smith, after Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt mezzotint, 1689 (circa 1689). 15 in. × 10 1/4 in. (382 mm × 260 mm) plate size; 16 5/8 in. × 11 5/8 in. (423 mm × 295 mm). Image courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London.

scholars across the board agree were unenforceable, attempts were made to regulate clothing because of its impact on notions of identity. Two white bodies placed side by side in similar clothing would signal similar standing in society (e.g., if both are dressed as nobility, then it is safe to assume they are nobility). The same cannot be said, however, of a black body and white body placed side by side in similar clothing. As we see in the portraits, notions of identity that are associated with clothing in the period are shattered when that notion of identity is applied to the black body. Placing the black body in similar clothing to the white body does not equate the two

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

60

Staging Blackness

bodies in social standing, but rather blackness scandalizes notions of identity, superseding and disassociating clothing from notions of identity when in relation to the black body, establishing the blackness as a difference not in identity, but in something larger. When the black body is placed next to a subject in similar clothing, the abject black body has a distancing effect on the two bodies; instead of the wardrobe emphasizing similar status as it does in two subjects, the clothed black body reveals difference by showing that, even when presented with a similar identity as the subject, the black body is irreconcilably different from the body of the subject. These portraits perform the ontological difference between the subject and the black by subverting the expectations of identity established through sumptuary laws. The portrait of Frederick Armond de Schomberg displays a double juxtaposition between blackness and the subject; not only does it create the comparison and distance described in the previous paragraph, but the appearance of a black horse in the portrait offers a second comparison between black bodies and beasts that presents the two side by side as work animals, a trope that was first established by Christopher Marlowe in Tamburlaine. The last portrait I wish to discuss is one I first encountered in Kim Hall’s Things of Darkness. In an undated, posthumous portrait of Peregrine Bertie, Lord Willoughby d’Eresby (1555–1601), a small, black boy appears just at the margins of the image, not even entirely visible before he is cut off by the edge of the painting. I wish to draw attention to this portrait because my theory of black inhumanity as articulated through social death can elaborate on Hall’s argument that this portrait “makes the association of black people with the conflated imagery of blackness and death quite apparent.”75 Hall acknowledges the Early Modern English culture recognized the potential for the Christian association of blackness with death in their constructions of social difference and physical categorization.76 While her reading of the image and the marginalization of blackness both literally and figuratively are spot on, I would argue that they are not complete. While Hall positions the association between blackness and death as existing at the conscious level, as an association that is a construction of the English, I wish to engage this association at a subconscious level. I argue that these associations between blackness and death and not just social, but ontological. If Christian symbolism aligns blackness with death and positions whiteness as the opposite of blackness, then we can read whiteness as coinciding with notions of life. The subject then, reading his own subjectivity through color symbolism, is free to position the paradoxical “black human” as a form of walking dead: sentience without life. So the social death that Patterson articulates for the Slave, and Wilderson’s later interpretation of the black as ontologically filling this position, are signaled to in both Hall’s argument and this portrait. Through this portrait, we are able to uncover pre-American notions of blacks as a form of living dead, or as Wilderson calls it, “sentient flesh.”

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Staging Blackness

61

Figure 1.4 Anonymous portrait of Peregrine Bertie, Lord Willoughby d’Eresby (1555–1601). Image courtesy the Trustees of the Grimsthorpe and Drummond Castle Trust; photograph, Courtald Institute of Art.

The ontological meditations found in the historical events and portraits that originated from encounters with blackness have their roots in the theatrical representations of the black body on the stage. As noted by numerous scholars of the period, language at the time was not standardized, but linguistic relationships between signifiers and referents were amorphous at times, with writers often referring to the same object by numerous different terms, thus making discussing blackness in Early Modern England, particularly in written texts, an arduous task. Linguistic identifiers of racial difference based on aesthetics were no different, and records contain many, often overlapping terms that signal aesthetic difference: “Blackamoor,” “Tawny-moor,” “Turkish-moor,” “Negro,” “Ethiope,” “Barberey,” “Guinea,” “Mulatto,” and “Moriscoe” are just some of the terms. While these terms sometimes give an indication of the origin of the person, more often than not the terms were interchangeable, and any of them can refer to “Africans and

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

62

Staging Blackness

Asians and their descendents.”77 With the lack of a stable linguistic identifier for blackness, we cannot rely solely on the grammar used in texts and stage directions to determine a character’s ontological blackness as opposed to just visible blackness; we need an analysis of their existence in relation to constructs of humanity, specifically the capacity for interlocution with human civil society. Tracing the evolution of the concept of abject blackness in Early Modern England both on and off the stage illuminates the manner in which the black body functioned as a physical manifestation of notions of absence, abjection, and living death in relation to the human subject. From its earliest representations through devils to the appearance of the black body, blackness has been the foundation for constructions of human subjectivity. That blackness existed outside of civil society before the encounter with corporeal blackness reveals that the position outside of semiotic reciprocation with civil society was not created for the black body, but rather existed before the subject’s encounter with the black body. The black body, then, entered into epistemology through its incapacity for being, as a manifestation of its a priori occupation of the position of absence that existed in the subconscious of the subject through religious doctrine.

Notes 1. These shifts, unfortunately, are not as clean as I would like them to be. So while it is apparent that with the encounter with the black body that the prevalence of black devils on the stage diminished, the two did appear on stage in the same period, although rarely, if ever, on the same stage. 2. John Cox, The Devil and the Sacred in English Drama 1350–1642 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). 3. Ibid., 6. 4. Ibid. 5. For the complete texts and analysis of the myths, see Abolqasem Esmailponr, “Manichaean Gnosis & Creation Myth,” Sino-Platonic Papers, 156 (July, 2005). 6. This association was primarily perpetuated through Dante, who in his Divine Comedy associates Lucifer and Satan. 7. I cannot comment on whether it was a conscious or subconscious choice to appropriate ideas of abject blackness, and do not wish to speculate on if this was intentional or coincidental. 8. Augustine of Hippo, Selected Writings. Trans. by Mary T. Clark. Ramsey (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1984), p. 72. 9. Ibid., 72. My emphasis. 10. Ibid., 106. 11. Ibid., 72–73. 12. Ibid., 61. 13. Joseph R. Washington, Anti-Blackness in English Religion 1500–1800. (New York: Edwin Mellon Press, 1984), p. 15. 14. Ibid. Numerous Early Modern English interpretations of the Curse of Ham from the Bible link Ham’s curse with blackness, as Ham inherited the part of

Staging Blackness

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

15. 16.

17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

26.

27.

28.

29.

63

the Earth that would be Africa. With Ham’s descendants inhabiting Africa, the English began to link the curse with the African’s black skin, arguing that it was a permanent marker of their ancestor’s sin. Ibid., 17. Ibid., 19. This conclusion comes after a long discussion in Washington’s book Anti-Blackness in English Religion 1500–1800 in which he praises the works of Sir Thomas Browne and Bishop Joseph Hall, among others, for trying to separate Blackness from evil, arguing, “Both lay, biblical-historian scholars and the man of letters turned theologian represented the best in English Christian thought in their attempt to dissuade Englishmen from equating Black men with Black devils” (19). L.W. Cushman, The Devil and the Vice in the English Dramatic Literature Before Shakespeare (London: Frank Cass & Co, 1900), p. 16. Cox, 1. Ibid. Ibid., 5. Ibid., 5–6. David Brakke, “Ethiopian Demons: Male Sexuality, the Black-Skinned Other, and the Monastic Self,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 10, no. 3/4 (Summer 2001): 501–535. Ana Korhonen. “Washing the Ethiopian White: Conceptualising Black Skin in Renaissance England.” Black Africans in Renaissance Europe. Ed. Earle, T.F. and Lowe, K.J.P. (London: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 94–112. Cushman, The Devil and Vice, 52. There are currently more than 100 extant cycle plays texts from four locations: thirty-two from the Wakefield Cycle, forty-seven from the York Cycle, twentyfive from the Chester Cycle, and forty-two from the Coventry Cycle. While each of these cycles contains devils, to analyze all of them is not the purpose of this study. Rather, I wish to simply show that the triangulation of blackness, death, and abjection was present in at least some of them. The financial records for the Drapers’ Guild in Coventry give the cost blacking a white actor for performance, and can be found in the Records of Early English Drama for Coventry. In the Drapers’ Guild accounts, records show payment for the “collering ye blacke solls faces” in every year from 1561 to 1573 except for 1564. The method of the blackening used by the Drapers is unknown; however, based on the time, it was most likely a cosmetic technique, either walnut paste or hog grease. The pageant requires the blacking of “iij white soules” (Coventry 217), the cost begins at six pence in 1561 and inflates to sixteen pence by 1573, or more than five pence per man. Through these financial records, we can reasonably assume that the devils in this play were black. All lines from the Coventry Cycle are cited from The N-Town Cycle, from From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama.  NeCastro, Gerard, ed. http:www.umm.maine.edu/faculty/necastro/drama. Any modernizations are my own interpretations based on NeCastro’s text and the OED. The plot of the Coventry Cycle, as with all medieval cycles, are an interpretation of the Bible, so while the plot is well-known, there are some interesting interpretations that were made for the stage. So in lieu of giving the entire plot, I will focus on the interpretive choices. It is these interpretations that are being analyzed. Or a representation thereof, referred to Deus in the speech heading.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

64

Staging Blackness

30. “Endless I am through my own might.” The omnipotence of God is reiterated throughout the cycle, with no evidence of his might standing out more so than in play 33, when Belial says even hell operates in obedience to God: “Both heaven and hell, water and land, All thing must to thee lout [bend in obedience]” (Coventry Cycle, Play 33, 39–40). 31. “I am Fadyr of Myth, My Sone kepyth ryth, My gost hath lyth And grace withalle.” (23–26) 32. In hevyn I bylde angell ful bryth My servauntys to be; and for my sake, With merth and melody [to] worchepe my myth, I belde them in my blysse. Aungell in hevyn evyrmore xal be In lyth ful clere, bryth [of] ble, With myrth and song to worchip me; Of joye þei may not mys. (32–39)

33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42.

43.

(In heaven I build angel full birth My servants to be; and for my sake, With mirth and melody to worship my might I build them in my bliss Angel in heaven evermore shall be In light full clear, breath of (ble?) With mirth and song to worship me Of joy they may not miss.) Neither of the two chapters in the Bible that directly discuss the fall, Isaiah 14 nor Ezekiel 28, makes any mention of Lucifer’s form being altered at the fall. Only that he is condemned to the pit. NeCastro, “N-Town Cycle,” lines 75–82. OED, “dight.” Ibid., definition 5c. This usage is found elsewhere in the Coventry Mystery as well. Dorothy Wertz, “Conflict Resolution in the Medieval Morality Plays.” The Journal of Conflict Resolution. 13.4 (Dec. 1969), p. 443. Ibid., 445. Ibid. Ibid., 447. Virginia Mason Vaughan, Performing Blackness on English Stages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 3. While I could not find any performance responses to Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus from the period, this thesis is supported by the fact that Virginia Mason Vaughan’s Performing Blackness on English Stages 1500–1800 engages with both stage devils and Marlowe’s play but makes no mention of Marlowe’s devils. While it is possible I am reading too much into this lack, it would seem as though this supports my reading of Marlowe’s devils as not black. His later appearance as a Franciscan Friar may eliminate the possibility of him appearing as black in earlier stagings of the play.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Staging Blackness

65

44. The online edition published by Tufts University only contains the word once, in scene 9, line 1024. 45. Imtiaz Habib, Black Lives in the English Archives 1500–1677: Imprints of the Invisible (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Co., 2007), p. 23. 46. A.C. De D.M. Saunders, A Social History of Black Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal 1441–1555 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. xiii. 47. St. Thomas More, St. Thomas More: Selected Letters. Elizabeth Frances Rogers, ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961), p. 2. 48. Habib, Black Lives, 38. 49. The letter is short; the passage is one of three paragraphs and the only one that makes particular mention of anyone in the party other than Catherine herself. 50. Ibid., 23–24. 51. Ibid., 25. 52. Ibid. 53. According to Elliot Tokson, the earliest black character on the commercial stage was Muly Muhamet in George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar (1588). The year before, however, Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine (1587) contains two unnamed, silent characters marked by their color, making these two the earliest known black characters on the commercial stage. 54. Although he was not the only one, in the coming years, other dramatists would place Black characters who appear solely as beasts of burden in their works. In the next year, Thomas Lodge’s 1588 play The Wounds of Civil War imitates Marlowe’s famous scene in the beginning stage direction of act 3, scene 3, “Enter Scilla in triumph in his chare triumphant of gold, drawen by foure Moores, before the chariot…” (3.3.0). In 1593, George Peele’s The Famous Chronicle of King Edvvarde the First, Sirnamed Edvvarde Longshankes, with His Returne From the Holy Land contains the stage direction, “The trumpets sound, Queen Elinor in her litter borne by foure Negro Mores.” (15). These “Negro Moors,” much like Marlowe’s, are beings defined only through their aesthetic difference and their capacity for labor. 55. In 1581, Queen Elizabeth established the Turkey Company to engage in trade with the Ottoman Empire. In 1585, Queen Elizabeth granted patents and licenses to the Earl of Warwick, Earl of Leicester, and forty others to form the Barbery Company. While my arguments of unstable linguistic identifiers could be used against me here to argue that Barbery and/or Turkey did not equal Moor, the geography and discourse of the time align the inhabitants of these two regions with the term Moor. 56. Although referred to as Moors, their position within the play clashes strongly with the reality of Moors in Early Modern England. 57. For a full discussion, see chapter 2 of Ayanna Thompson, Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage (New York: Routledge), 2007. 58. This argument is elaborated in the next chapter, which analyzes plays that place both Moors and other non-white races onstage simultaneously with Blacks. 59. Dympna Callaghan, Shakespeare Without Women: Representing Gender and Race on the Renaissance Stage. (London: Routledge), 2000, p. 2. 60. Matthieu Chapman, “The Appearance of Blacks on the Early Modern Stage: Love’s Labour’s Lost’s African Connections to Court,” Early Theatre 17.2 (December 2014): 77–94.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

66

Staging Blackness

61. Ibid., 86–88. 62. Peter Fryer. Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (New South Wales, Australia: Pluto Press Australia Limited, 1984), p. 31. 63. Ibid., 25. 64. Alan G.R. Smith, The Emergence of a Nation State Commonwealth of England, 1529–1660. 2nd ed. (Essex: Addison Wesley Longman Limited, 1997), p. 236. 65. Fryer, Staying Power, 10. 66. As qtd. In Fryer, Staying Power, 11. 67. Ibid., 12. 68. Ibid. 69. James Walvin, Black and White: The Negro and English Society, 1555–1945 (Great Britain: Hazell Watson and Viney Limited, 1973), p. 8. 70. Habib, Black Lives, 123. 71. Ibid., 124. 72. Folarin Shyllon, Black People in Britain 1555–1833 (London: Oxford University Press, 1977), p. 6. 73. Habib, Black Lives, 126. 74. Edward Scobie, “African Presence in Early Europe,” African Presence in Early Europe. Van Sertima, Ivan, eds. (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishing, 1985), p. 201. 75. Kim F. Hall, Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern Europe (New York: Cornell University Press, 1995), p. 5. 76. Ibid. 77. Fryer, Staying Power, ix.

2

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much”

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Racial Discourse Separating Moors from Blacks in Early Modern England

Attempting to compose scholarly discourse on matters of race is rife with pitfalls and misconceptions regardless of the period in which one is writing. In our modern world, writings on race are often a tinderbox to which every reader offers a different potential spark. The amount of tension held within discourse of race is almost palpable, as every argument is met with resistance from every angle: religious, historical, sentimental, theoretical, personal, and academic are just some of the ways in which the public attacks any discourse on race. Part of this stems from the fact that to write about race is to write about inequality, genocide, rape, and other egregious acts to which no one seems willing to admit culpability. Writing about race in earlier periods, specifically the Early Modern English period, encounters an entirely new collection of resistance from scholars and historians who dismiss and unnecessarily problematize discussions of race by claiming that race in the Early Modern period is impossible to discuss because (1) conceptions of racial difference were new to epistemology and were yet to be truly defined, and (2) it is impossible to produce scholarly discourse on race in the Early Modern period that is not clouded by modern conceptions of race that render the discourse irrelevant through its chronological disjunction. This resistance has led some scholars writing on race in the period to automatically recognize and accept the piles of confusing and contradictory discourse around the topic by placing “race” in scare quotes.1 These pitfalls can be partially addressed, however, by recognizing that “race” as we know it today exists at two conflicting levels of abstraction. Contemporary scholarship on the topic engages in both essentialist and constructivist discourses of racial difference. At the conscious level, modern discourse on race recognizes and often defines cultural and physical differences between groups such as Hispanics, blacks, whites, Asians, and other ethnic/national/colored groups as a racial difference. Undergirding these conscious constructions of racialized differences within humanity, however, is that contemporary notions of humanity are racialized. In other words, current scholarship addresses race not only as a conscious marker of difference within humanity, but some fields have begun to address race as a characteristic that demarcates humanity from inhumanity. So while we have developed the tendency to refer to white, Hispanic, Asian, black, etc. as

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

68 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” different races, we also have the tendency to refer to humanity as a whole as the “human race.” These two linguistic usages of the word race have conflicting semantic meanings; “race” is used as both the descriptor of the class of beings and the beings within the larger class. These two usages mark “race” as both essential to humanity (human race) and a construction to distinguish within humanity. How, then, are we to disentangle these conflicting semantic designations of race? One potential method for reading these two conflicting semantic designations of race is to adjudicate them within varying levels of abstraction (e.g., the conscious and subconscious). Constructions of racialized identities within humanity are the product of political economy: these designations are constructed by subjects to establish differences for the purpose of forming communities.2 So at the conscious level, we recognize race as a factor that differentiates for the purpose of confirming one’s notions of community. This same relationship between race and formation of self can be read at the subconscious level as well. Just like with varying races within humanity, if we recognize that there is a “human race” that exists in the world, then we must also recognize the possibility that there is an inhuman race against which we define the human race. Race, then, becomes not only a difference in human identity that we consciously recognize, but also a difference that defines human subjectivity at a subconscious level. Reading these two conflicting designation of race reveals how, while most scholars address race as a construction of society, race also functions subconsciously and structures subjectivity. The notion of a unified “human race” that operates at a subconscious allows race to be read as a category of paradigmatic difference that separates those recognized as human from those who are inhuman. Race then functions both as an important construction to distinguish identities within civil society and an essential characteristic that forms the subject in civil society. The notion of a racialized subjectivity is one of the base assumptions of the Afro-pessimist school of thought. Afro-Pessimism engages with the possibility that the slave ship caused a rupture between notions of blackness and humanity within the psyche of the subject, creating an ontological divide between non-blacks and blacks. This divide becomes problematic when constructing the subject, however, because as I have argued, blackness is a locus of absence that exists as an abstract. How does one define the self in relation to nothing? The genesis of the non-black/black divide in civil society for which Afro-Pessimism argues relies strongly on Orlando Patterson’s theorization of the Slave as occupying the position of social death. Patterson constructs civil society along a divide between those recognized as Masters and their socially dead abject, the Slave. Reading Patterson, Wilderson brilliantly articulates how Patterson’s constituent elements of social death are analogous to contemporary notions of blackness.3 While Wilderson argues that this non-black/black antagonism structures American modernity, this volume engages the ways in which this ontological

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 69 divide between humanity and blacks predates America. As mentioned in the previous chapter, Wilderson engages in a critical slippage when he argues “Africans went into the ships and came out as blacks.”4 While he correctly recognizes the beings exiting the ship were black, I want to question the ontological considerations granted to those entering the ship. The question is: why did the English determine that black Africans as opposed to other non-English Others were suitable for dislocation from their homelands and being placed in hold of transatlantic slave ships? This question needs to be addressed in the lens of Early Modern English global relations. The English encountered numerous non-English peoples before chattel slavery, yet only black Africans were subjected to the horrors of the Middle Passage. So the question is, were the beings placed onto the ships granted the same ontological considerations that the English used when engaging other nonwhite races? Articulating the ways in which the English read blacks as ontologically different from other non-white races requires some careful navigating of written discourse. To engage in the discussion of structural differences of racialized subjectivity in Early Modern England requires further addressing a predominant critical slippage that I addressed in the introduction to this volume. Studies of race in the period often cite England’s geographical isolation and xenophobic discourse to defuse matters of race, arguing that how racial difference was constructed was not stable. This is true when discussing race as a construction of human identity. This truth, however, renders race as a marker of difference that has too much meaning or too many meanings to fully articulate. These varying overlapping and intersecting arguments of racial difference allow scholars to conflate numerous groups of non-English peoples, including Jews, Moors, Africans, Turks, Indians, Asians, women, and even sometimes other Europeans, into varying racialized groups frequently addressed on the equal ground of Other. Reading subjectivity as raced, however, allows us to begin to disentangle these conflations through notions of who is and is not granted human consideration. So while the English encountered dozens of varying types of racialized human identities, analyzing the paradigmatic structure of Early Modern England allows us to articulate how these groups functioned at the level of ontology. So while all groups of non-white identities can be conflated into one class of Others in the English consciousness, looking at the varying subconscious considerations granted to these groups allows us to examine which were racialized at the level of identity and which were racialized at the level of subjectivity. Analyzing the ontological considerations the English granted to Moors and black Africans, both beings whose identity within the English consciousness were partially constructed by their color, reveals a stark divide between the two. While scholars have perpetuated the conflation varying non-white Others such as Moors and blacks, the blame for this problem does not rest entirely on the shoulders of scholarship. The existing documentation

70 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much”

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

from the period concerning Moors and blacks lends itself to the interpretation that all of the non-European races were equal in the eyes of the Early Modern English subject. As Emily Bartels reiterates in Making More of the Moor (1990), As critics have established, the term ‘Moor’ was used interchangeably with such similarly ambiguous terms as ‘African,’ ‘Ethiopian,’ ‘Negro,’ and even ‘Indian’ to designate a figure from different parts or the whole of Africa (or beyond) who was either black or Moslem, neither, or both.5 Because of the dozens of overlapping and intersecting terms used to define color difference in Early Modern English discourse, the methods through which the English used color difference to construct racialized identities is incredibly confounding. This discourse has often led contemporary scholars of Renaissance England to look at all non-white peoples as equals, assuming that “tawny,” “Tartar,” “Moor,” “African,” and “Negro” and other terms are viewed equally as black.6 This conflation of varying non-white peoples has led many scholars to downplay the significance of color difference in the construction of the Early Modern English self. While this discourse does seem to discharge color difference as a primary constituent element of identity, I posit that color difference was a primary constituent element of subjectivity. While texts from the Early Modern period do use overlapping terms to refer to varying darker-skinned peoples, they also allow for readings distinctions between peoples of color that aligns them structurally as human or inhuman. In other words, while the discourse may not distinguish these races in the “white/right” gaze along lines of visible difference, the discourse does align them structurally along a division between human and inhuman. So while Irish, Moors, Scots, and black Africans were all at varying times referred to as “black,” only the black Africans were not granted human ontological considerations.7 Despite the long scholarly tradition concerning matters of race in Early Modern England, theoretical approaches to interpreting color difference have been sorely lacking. This lack is primarily because of the two slippages addressed in the introduction: the conflation of all non-English races has become so pervasive that it is accepted as common knowledge and the assumption that the manner in which modern scholarship approaches race from an intellectual and critical standpoint is irrelevant in the Early Modern period. While this conflation offers a level of convenience, it also glosses over or flat out ignores the fact that not all non-white races were created equal in the eyes of the Early Modern English subject. The emergence of Afro-Pessimism provides a lens through which we can articulate color difference as racialized at the level of subjectivity despite the overlapping terms used to describe various peoples of color. So while the terms used to refer to peoples of color overlapped and could be interchangeable, the conflation

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 71 of Moors and blacks is problematic for numerous reasons. Primary among these reasons is that the conflation it fails to recognize the massive differences between the treatments of the two groups historically. While the subtle differences are numerous and some of them will be discussed at length, this conflation can be disputed and disproven by examining the long history of cultural, political, and economic exchange that existed between England and the Islamic world that is absent from foreign relations between England and sub-Saharan Africa. Analyzing the historical relations between the English and the Moors reveals that the English extended ontological considerations to the Moors that were never extended to the black Africans. The history of mutually recognized humanity between the English and Muslims dates to at least the twelfth century when opposing rulers King Richard I of England and Saladin the Sultan of Syria engaged their kingdoms in a centuries-long holy war. Even though engaged in this war, both sides operated under mutually agreed upon rules of engagement and standards of civility. This is no more evident than in Richard’s attempted siege of Jerusalem in 1192. While the Crusades began as a joint venture between Germany, France, and England, only the English company made it to the holy city. Tamim Ansary’s Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes, gives us the following history between Richard and Saladin, rulers of the warring nations: [Richard] and Saladin danced around each other for about a year, and Richard won the main battle they fought, but by the time he laid siege to Jerusalem in June of 1192, illness had reduced his strength and the heat had him panting. Saladin sympathetically sent him fresh fruit and cool snow and waited for Richard to realize that he didn’t have the men to retake Jerusalem. Finally, Richard agreed to terms with Saladin, which were roughly as follows: Muslims would keep Jerusalem but protect Christian places of worship, let Christians live in the city and practice their faith without harassment, and let Christian pilgrims come and go as they pleased.8 Saladin then became known among Englishmen for his civility and nobility. While this is a short historical anecdote, it reveals both sides’ mutual recognition of the others’ humanity. Instead of decimating his weakened enemy, Saladin aided his recovery so that they could parley on equal grounds. Even when at war, when Muslims and the English were engaged in repeated acts of transgression against one another, they eschewed the gratuitous violence that defines the Slave, even though such violence could have been justified. Also, though the war was fought primarily over religious differences, the treaty settlement shows that the Muslim ruler Saladin recognized the Christians’ right to the cultural property of religion. Although the history between the two regions far predates the period, by the time the Elizabethan era began, England was inextricably linked to Islam socially, politically, and commercially. Nabil Matar argues that a Briton in

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

72 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” Early Modern England was more likely to encounter a Muslim than a Jew or a Native American, and “to numerous Britons, the Turks and Moors were men and women they had known, not in fantasy and fiction, but with whom they had worked and lived, sometimes hating them yet sometimes accepting or admiring them.”9 Queen Elizabeth engaged in numerous diplomatic endeavors with Moroccan ruler Ahmad al-Mansur, treating him as an equal rather than a subordinate. Instead of attempting to colonize the Ottoman Empire or North Africa, Elizabeth was receptive to the idea of joining forces with al-Mansur to conquer Spain and colonize America, only to be thwarted by the death of both rulers in 1603.10 And while the triangle slave trade that sent sub-Saharan Africans to the New World receives more historical and scholarly attention, the largest commercial triangle enterprise was the trade between England, Newfoundland, and North Africa that focused on fishing in Newfoundland and selling the harvest in North Africa.11 While historical records reveal a long history of mutual exchange of commerce, culture, and politics between England and Muslim countries, the same cannot be said of relations between England and sub-Saharan Africa. Nabil Matar succinctly describes the difference between relations with the two regions in his book Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery, astutely arguing against the conflation of Moors and blacks, as I do, by virtue of their differing foreign relations with England, stating: the conflation of North Africans with Sub-Saharan Africans is misleading because England’s relations with sub-Saharan Africans were relations of power, domination, and slavery, while relations with relations with the Muslims of North Africa and the Levant were of anxious equality and grudging emulation.12 While the relations with Muslims functioned under the premise that both sides were human, I struggle even to deem the English/black African encounters “relations” since they were constructed upon a fundamental understanding of the blacks as inhuman. Extant English historical documents show no evidence of attempts to engage the inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa as a people, but rather they were immediately recognized as an inhuman commodity. The history of English/Muslim relations is complex and, while far from a love story, reinforces the fact that both sides recognized their opposition simultaneously as Others and as humans, especially when presented side by side with English/black African relations. The differentiation between the two is not as simple as an aesthetic difference between light and dark, but an ontological difference that was the groundwork for developing political relationships as opposed to unadulterated violence and domination. The division between races that the Early Modern English recognized as human subjects, such as Moors and Muslims, as compared to those that lack human recognition, black Africans, is discernible in the drama of the period.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 73 While the case studies provided may not be the most famous pieces of the period, George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar, Robert Greene’s adaptation of Orlando Furioso, and Mr. Moore’s Revels are all well-known pieces that, most importantly, cover a wide range of different forms of dramatic entertainment each designed to reach a different audience: The Battle of Alcazar was a piece of commercial drama, Greene’s Orlando Furioso was performed at court, and Mr. Moore’s Revels is a small, private piece performed in taverns. Each of these pieces illustrates a clear distinction between two races that are almost universally conflated in scholarship of the Early Modern English period: Moors and blacks. Not only do the pieces all separate blacks from Moors, but each piece positions blacks as the abject to Moorishness, a division that realigns conceptions of humanity in the period from a division between English and Other to one between the human non-black and the inhuman black. Although the black body was newly introduced into the Early Modern English consciousness, Early Modern English drama displays an intrinsic connection between blackness and social death that exists independent of the black body. The following case studies reveal how the concept of blackness exists in a position similar to the ontological Slave as defined by Orlando Patterson.13 Although Patterson created this language to define the Slave in 1984, the drama of Early Modern England contains characters whose relation to the subject can be articulated through the criteria for ontological Slavery. Furthermore, these characters, which align ontologically with the Slave, are generally defined by their blackness. Once the black body began to appear in society and on the stage, the connection between conceptual blackness and social death became grounded in the black body. The link between ontological Slavery and blackness before the theorization of the Slave ontology works to establish blackness as the a priori abject Slave to humanity. Notions of blackness as they relate to humanity then, regardless of the overlapping terms available and deployed to describe color difference in Early Modern England, can be read through the treatment of dramatic characters in Early Modern England. The majority of studies concerning race in Early Modern English drama, much like studies of any topic in Early Modern English drama, has focused on Shakespeare’s Moors, namely Othello and Aaron. Because of the Shakespeare-centric focus of scholarship in the period’s drama, the vast amounts of scholarship on race in Early Modern England produced in the past thirty years has left a majority of dramatic texts underexamined. While the appearance of blacks and the appearance of Moors in drama have both received ample treatment through examinations of Shakespeare’s work, scholarship on Shakespeare’s Moors tends to examine the characters either only within their own plays or in relation to one another. Limiting the analysis of Moors and blacks to Shakespeare’s plays leads scholars to equating both Aaron and Othello as the Other to the English subject. The works of Shakespeare allow for this conflation for two reasons: first, the race and

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

74 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” origin of his Moors tend to remain somewhat ambiguous; and second, he never staged Moorishness and blackness together. The extant pieces portraying both black Africans and Moors simultaneously and distinctly are limited, and these works containing both black Africans and Moors concurrently have been undertheorized. In the few extant pieces, however, the two groups often receive vastly different ontological considerations in relation to the human. Peele’s Battle of Alcazar (1587), Greene’s adaptation of Orlando Furioso (1594), and Mr. Moore’s Revels, a little known 1636 private masque, are three such pieces. Each of these pieces places blacks and Moors side by side in a manner that divides the concept of the Other as currently defined through scholarship into two classes: the Moor and the black. In addition to this separation, the pieces establish Moorishness as the Other to the white subject, but still within the bounds of humanity, while establishing blackness as the abject of humanity, constructing blackness in a manner that equates them ontologically with Orlando Patterson’s conception of Slavery as a form of social death.

The “Blackened” Moor George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar is an Early Modern play that is little known to modern day theater-goers but was immensely popular in its era. The play contains numerous elements that would have appealed to Early Modern English audiences: conflict between Spain and Portugal, exotic lands and peoples, battles and bloodshed, and noble Englishmen. Peele’s play is often cited as the first English play to place a black character in an important role in the narrative.14 The play contains numerous Moorish characters: Abdelmelec, Muly Mahamet Seth, Muly Mahamet, and numerous other unnamed Moors, not to mention their families. The Otherness of these characters in relation to the English has been noted in scholarship, albeit not recently for the most part.15 What has received noticeably less attention, however, is that the play describes only one of these Moors, Muly Mahamet, as black. In a world in which the written discourse often defined Moors as black, how was the audience to interpret and process Muly Muhamet’s unique blackness among a contingent of non-black Moors? While this distinction between Muly Muhamet and the other Moors because of his blackness is understudied, Anthony Barthelemy does dedicate a small portion of his 1987 book Black Face, Maligned Race to the difference between the white and black Moors in Peele’s play. Barthelemy includes an examination of Peele’s suspected source, John Polemon’s 1587 work The Second Part of the Book of Battailes, Fought In Our Age, in which he recognizes the contradictory nature of Polemon’s description of the Moors. Polemon took care to describe Muly Mahamet as “Negro or blacke” and Abdemelec as “white face,” but he maintains that both occupy the position of the Other to the English. Barthelemy then reads this equality to assume that blackness is a possible subdivision of

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 75 Moorishness despite the fact that a distinction between Moors and blacks was not uncommon during the Elizabethan period. The purpose of this section is to address the possibility that Muly Mahamet’s description as a “Negro” serves to offer not a classification within an identity of Moorishness, but rather a distinction from the identity of Moorishness. Polemon’s book describes Muly Mahamet as “Negro or blacke Moore,”16 which Barthelemy takes to mean the two are interchangeable. This, however, does not have to be the case; the use of “or” does not necessarily signal the interchangeability of the terms “Negro” and “blacke Moore,” but rather, in this case, can signal the mutual exclusivity found in an either/or construction: Muly Muhamet is either “Negro” or “blacke Moore.” While it is possible that Polemon did mean the two as interchangeable as Barthelemy assumes, Polemon would not be alone in making the distinction between Moors and Negroes. Early explorers such as John Hawkins distinguished between the two by referring to subSaharan blacks as “negros,” a term derived from the Spanish for “black,” and non-Sub-Saharan Africans as Moors. Pluralizing “negro” shifts it from an adjective to a noun, and using it as the sole designation of their being creates the black as an object and hails blacks not as humans, but rather as commodities, a definition reserved exclusively for sub-Saharan, black Africans. One cannot simultaneously be a “Negro,” a descriptor that signifies the inhuman, commodity status of a being, and a Moor, an accepted human Other in relation to English subjectivity. So from where, then, does Muly Mahamet derive his blackness? Other scholars have made mention of Muly Mahamet’s blackness as a sign of absolute Otherness before. Scott Oldenburg broached the topic in his 2001 article, “The Riddle of Blackness in England’s National Family Romance,” discussing the ways that blackness was associated with transgression in the Early Modern English mind. The text noticeably positions Muly Mahamet as Other to the English through his Moorishness, but also uses his blackness to position him as Other to the Moors as well. This separation of Muly Mahamet from the other Moors by nature of color reflects the anxiety over the construction of the subject: it reveals ambivalence about the use of Moors as the foundation for constructing white, human subjectivity while simultaneously recognizing the need for blackness, even a contingent blackness, in defining humanity. Muly Mahamet’s blackness is of particular interest because it reveals how the English view the humanity of both themselves and the Moors. Peele presents both the English and the Moors as peoples who rely on blackness as a negative foundation upon which to construct their subjectivity. Although from the start of the play Peele describes Muly Mahamet as black, he is not a priori black; his blackness is contingent upon his transgressions. The Presenter makes this connection prior to the appearance of Muly Mahamet onstage, stating that Muly Mahamet is “black in his looke, bloudie in his deed” (1.1).17 He is defined by his blackness, and his blackness is defined by his deeds. Oldenburg quite

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

76 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” adroitly links Muly Mahamet’s blackness to his transgressions, but he does not go as far as to argue the structural implications that the process and specific method of Muly Mahamet’s blackening have for both Moorishness and blackness. Although Muly Mahamet begins the play blackened, evidence in the text indicates that his blackness is not an a priori condition, but rather that he at one time occupied the structural position of the human. The conflict of the play is dependent on the recognition of Muly Mahamet’s filial relations and his ability to betray those relations. While the recognition of filial relations is impossible for the black Slave, more important in the particular case of Muly Mahamet is that, in spite of his Moorishness, he is a recognized descendant of non-black, human subjects. His Moorish brethren who did not commit acts of violence that sever filial relations are still recognized as human subjects in civil society, as symbolized by the play’s distinction that these Moors maintain their whiteness. Anthony Barthelemy traces the whiteness of the Moor Abdelmelec to Peele’s source material Polemon, which describes Abdelmelec as “of meane stature, of a fine proportion of bodie, with brode shoulders, white face, but intermixed with red, which did gallantlie garnish his cheeks…”18 Abdelmelec, however, is not just aesthetically white based on a source document, but the play positions him as white through his relationship to and capacity for honor that is recognized by other subjects. The first description of Abdelmelec given in the play is that he is “courteous and honourable.”19 As mentioned, the Slave lacks the capacity for honor, so from the beginning it is established that Abdelmelec, regardless of his color, is not a Slave. Through the division of Moors into white and black, the play incorporates all Moors a priori into civil society, thus eliminating the possibility of Moorishness composing the abject of humanity and revealing that the locus for abjection must exist elsewhere and recognizing that, through the character of Muly Mahamet, blackness is the key element of abjection. In spite of his white heritage, Muly Mahamet is referred to as black, barbarous Moore and Negro by the Presenter before his appearance on the stage. This grouping of terms becomes increasingly interesting when read in relation to the discourse on civility in Early Modern England. Ian Smith makes a connection between notions of barbarism, specifically as they relate to linguistic and rhetorical abilities, and the construction of the subject.20 Notions of barbarism existed as the antithesis of civility, thus those considered barbarians were outside of civil society. While I will not engage in a detailed rhetorical analysis of Muly Muhamet’s lines, I would like to acknowledge that he speaks in the same blank verse as the other Moors for the entirety of the play. So while Smith argues that barbarism was linked to linguistic and rhetorical abilities, we do not see this manifest in the character of Muly Muhamet, despite being described as barbarous. We do see, however, Muly Mahamet being described as both “black Moor” and “Barbarous Moor.” What if, then, we are to read these terms as simultaneously signaling

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 77 a position outside of the civil society of the Moors? In the case of Muly Mahamet, it becomes possible to read barbarousness not in relation to his linguistic abilities, but rather as congruent to his blackness. In the case of Muly Muhamet, both terms are able to function equally to signal a place outside of civil consideration. In addition to his black barbarousness, Muly Muhamet’s blackness both precedes and defines the character. The process of Muly Mahamet’s blackening reveals an interesting link between the concept of blackness and the concept of the abject Slave in Early Modern England. Muly Mahamet is explicitly referred to as black, and although he is never called slave, the plot of The Battle of Alcazar and its treatment of the black Muly Mahamet align his blackness with Pattersonian notions of the ontological Slave. In the dumb shows that begin the play, Muly Mahamet does not just commit murder, he murders his own kin. The second dumb show reads: Enter the Moore and two murdrers bringing in his unkle Abdelmunen then they draw the curtains and smother the yong princes in the bed. Which donne in sight of the unkle, they strangle him in his chair and then goe forth. He himself severs the kinship ties that are absent for the black Slave. The severing of these ties alienates him from his heritage and gets him repeatedly dubbed a traitor. Recapping the events of the dumb show, Abdelmelec refers to Muly Mahamet three times: That Muly Mahamet the traitor holdes, Traitor and bloudie tyrant both at once That murthered his younger brethren both But on this damned wretch, this traitor king The gods shall pour down showers of sharp revenge. The script, however, makes Muly Mahamet’s violence into more than just a murdering of kinship, a recurrent act in Early Modern Drama; it becomes an act of violence against the construction of white subjectivity. His traitorous acts are not confined to betraying his family, but through the betrayal of his family, he commits an act of betrayal against civil society itself. After the dumb show occurs, the Presenter returns and establishes the murderer Muly Mahamet and the murdered Abdelmunen as antagonists based on color: His fathers brother of too light beleefe This Negro puts to death by proud command. These lines by the Presenter establish blackness both as a condition based on treachery toward one’s white kin as well as the antagonist and opposition to whiteness. His acts cause alienation not just from his family, but from

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

78 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” the entirety of whiteness. Although Muly Mahamet is not a priori black, his filicide causes him to be become black. By making filicide the mechanism through which Muly becomes black, Peele positions recognized filial relations as a constituent element of existing as a non-black being, thus positioning a lack of relationality as a constituent element of blackness. The play reveals through the blackening of Muly Mahamet that the Early Modern English subject recognized the role of stable filiation in the construction of the subject, and that severing these filial ties equated a being with blackness. Once Muly Mahamet commits the transgressions that confirm his blackness, Peele subjects Muly to violence that is intentionally gratuitous. Muly’s punishment at the end of the play is to be flayed, that his black skin is to “be parted from his flesh.” While flaying occurred in other plays of the period, Muly’s is unique in that his skin is to be displayed to deter others from following Muly’s path to blackness: “So to deter and fear the lookers-on/ From any such foul fact or bad attempt” so “That all the world may learn by him” (5.1.251; 253; 249). The severing of Muly’s black skin from his body and its later display begs analysis. Peele designs a punishment that implies that blackness exists separate from Moors. While many scholars conflate Moorishness and blackness, Peele literally separates the two from one another. This separation between black skin and non-black flesh opens new possibilities for the ways Moorishness and blackness were meant to be read differently by English audiences. Once the black skin is removed from the flesh, it is the black skin that is displayed to serve as a lesson to others. Displaying the black skin as a warning to others seems to place the culpability for Muly’s deeds onto blackness. No mention is made of what is to become of the flesh. Peele places the blame for Muly misdeeds on his blackness, not his Moorishness, thus allowing the audience to read the two as separate. Muly’s flaying can also be read as an act of metaphysical violence against blackness. Not only is Peele removing blackness from the Moor, he is specifically separating it from the body. Muly’s proposed flaying can then be read as a reflection of the English psyche’s inability to reconcile notions of blackness with notions of the body. By presenting Muly Muhamet’s blackness as existing both in his skin and his deeds, Peele creates a black character that functions as a type of transitional character between the medieval stage devil and the Early Modern idea of black Africans; his blackness marks his damnation and his damnation is signaled by blackness, a Mobius strip where it is impossible to tell which came first, establishing blackness and abjection as two sides to one coin. That Muly is not a priori black but is blackened by his actions serves two distinct functions in the construction of subjectivity: first, it works to eliminate the Moor’s potential as the structural abject; second, it places blackness as the abject upon which to define subjectivity. While it does not guarantee full recognition and incorporation into civil society for the Moor, his conversion to blackness indicates that, while becoming black is a possibility for the Moor, the Moor does not occupy the irreconcilable position of abject blackness.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 79 Muly Mahamet reveals an interesting duality in the structural paradigm concerning the status of blackness; not only do his deeds blacken him morally, thus adhering to the existing notions of the religious subject, but the specific nature of his deeds blacken him structurally, establishing him as the antithesis of humanity in the emerging paradigm of the Master/Slave antagonism. Not only do the particularities of Muly Mahamet’s blackness reveal the ambivalence over the place of Moors in the construction of subjectivity, but Peele establishes blackness, as defined through Muly Mahamet, as the suitable, perhaps even necessary, foundation for the construction of the human subject. Examining the appearance of blackness in Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar reveals links between blackness as understood by the Early Modern English and the Slave as defined by Orlando Patterson. The treatment of Muly Mahamet directly relates his blackness to the Slave ontology in ways that are too complete to be coincidental. Based on this evidence, the play positions Moors as structurally non-Slaves through their capacity for honor and filial relations. The play then uses the character of Muly Mahamet to show the subject’s capacity to become socially dead through acting out the constituent elements of the Slave ontology, in this case Muly Mahamet’s acts of violence against filial relations and dishonorable behavior. More important, in the play, the subjects who maintain and honor the expectations of human relationality are described as white, while those who betray these expectations, in this case Muly Mahamet, are described as black. The play equates blackness with a position outside the bounds of civil society. So while Muly Mahamet is described as “black” throughout the play, the play makes clear that this blackness is not purely an aesthetic differences, but rather indicative of his position outside of civil society.

Adapting Blackness Sir John Harrington first translated Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso into English in 1591, but it was Robert Greene who put the work on the stage, adding some important changes in the representations of blackness. I argue that Greene adapted Ariosto’s original epic poem in a way that positions the black as the inhuman abject to civil society and incorporates all other races and nationalities as subjects (or at least as provisional subjects) in human civil society. I also argue that the discovery of blackness challenged existing concepts of the English/Other racial binary and threw the existing perceptions of subjectivity into disarray. I suggest that the English/Other binary works only at the level of experience and does not address the structural paradigm of Early Modern England, and that, if Turks and Moors were the opposite of the English, black Africans were the opposite of a humanity that includes both English and Moors. Based on Harrington’s similarities to Ariosto’s original, specifically in terms of race and geography, and Greene’s knowledge of Italian,21 I believe that Greene’s stage adaptation derived from Ariosto’s original as well as using Harrington’s translation as a source.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

80 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” Therefore, the changes in geography and race that position the black as a separate, lower class of Others were made by Greene specifically for the stage. Looking at Robert Greene’s adaptation of Orlando Furioso reveals a Manichean divide between light and dark that positions the black as the abject to both the English and their Moorish Other, complicating the concept of English subjectivity as defined by its opposition to the Moor. Robert Greene (1558–1592) is sadly underrepresented in studies of English Renaissance drama, and in fact may be more well-known for his pamphlet Greene’s Groats-worth of Wit (1593), a posthumous work in which he calls Shakespeare an “upstart crow,” than for any of his own dramatic works. Two recent studies, Writing Robert Greene22 and Robert Greene,23 have begun to give Greene his due credit as “England’s first notorious professional playwright.” Neither of these collections, however, gives rigorous attention either to Greene’s play The History of Orlando Furioso or to his writing of minority characters. In Melnikoff’s and Gieskes’s 2008 article “Recent Studies in Robert Greene (1989–2006),” none of the collected studies of individual plays is on Orlando Furioso and none of the cited works make any reference to race.24 The only mention of Greene’s Orlando Furioso in Melnikoff’s collection of recent scholarship comes from Norman Sanders’s 1961 article “The Comedy of Greene and Shakespeare,” in which he argues for the romantic comedy elements of the play and their connections to Shakespeare’s work.25 In the past forty years, very little work has been done on Greene’s adaptation and none of it has analyzed the play’s portrayals of racial difference. Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (1516) was one of sixteenth-century Italy’s most popular pieces of literature, so much so that it was rewritten in both 1521 and 1532, each of these versions undergoing numerous printings. Not only was it a literary masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance, but it also espoused a political message in line with both dynastic and Catholic aims. In 1594, Robert Greene adapted Ariosto’s work for the stage in The History of Orlando Furioso. Greene not only had to adapt the long, complex, and episodic poem to fit into Early Modern English dramatic traditions, but he also had to adapt Ariosto’s diverse political and religious agendas to something that adhered to Elizabethan courtly sensibilities. Examining the text of Lodovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso and Robert Greene’s The History of Orlando Furioso reveals ways in which Greene’s adaptation alters Ariosto’s original portrayals of madness to shift the focus away from religion and onto race as the essential determinant of identity. The shift reflects the changing social conditions under which the two pieces were authored; Greene’s work challenges the subjectivity of racial Others while simultaneously promoting an imperialist agenda for Early Modern England. Adapting Ariosto’s poem for the stage required Greene to make numerous changes to make the final product palatable to Early Modern English audiences in terms of both stage presentation and social commentary. I will discuss three particular changes in the representation of madness: first, the madness of

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 81 the two Orlandos; second, the madness of Others in relation to the madness of Orlando, whether they are religious or racial Others and how these representations reflect society at large; and third, the role of the feminine in the madness of Orlando. In all three instances, Greene transforms Ariosto’s work into a propaganda piece supporting imperialist aims by condoning racial abjection. Both Ariosto and Greene present Orlando’s madness in a manner that is consistent with popular traditions. During the medieval period, madness was typically presented as what Paolo Valesio calls “iconic madness,” in which those afflicted: discard all the refinements of culture and civilization, especially clothes, and revert to a state of nature, wandering in the wilderness; they rarely talk…(200)26 In other words, madness is inextricably linked to a loss of humanity and the removal of elements that create civilization, namely clothing, language, and social codes and standards. These trends carried over into Ariosto’s poem, and his Orlando strictly adheres to this popular culture expectation of madness. Upon discovering trees carved in Angelica’s hand with the name Medor, Orlando falls into an all-consuming grief. Only after three days of melancholy, in which he neither eats nor sleeps, does Orlando succumb to madness. The first description of his madness is that he became “worked into a great frenzy, he stripped off his armor and chain-mail…Then he tore off his clothes and exposed his hairy belly and all his chest and back,”27 demonstrating a reversion to a natural state free from the refinements of civilization. He then commits horrific acts of violence including dismembering a group of shepherds, uprooting trees, and “preying on men and wild beasts.”28 After his behavior removes him from the norms of civilization, he physically removes himself from society and begins wandering in the wilderness, “roam(ing) across the width and breadth of France.”29 By the time he is rediscovered by civilization, he is completely unrecognizable, even by his former love and the impetus for his madness, Angelica, for whom “It never crossed her mind he might be Orlando: he had changed too much.”30 Orlando’s madness is a textbook representation of iconic madness; it is inextricably linked to his loss of humanity as he is removed physically, psychologically, and ideologically from civilization and reverts to nature. Ariosto presents Others with madness that manifests similarly to that of Orlando, in particular, the madness of Orlando’s Muslim counterpart, Rodomont. While his actions are not the same as Orlando’s, the form of Rodomont’s general behavior throughout most of the text parallels Orlando’s madness and can be classified as iconic madness. Rodomont experiences no fewer than four isolated incidences of madness in the poem. When the reader is first introduced to Rodomont, he is “bawling and cursing in a lather of rage”31 and proceeds on a rampage similar to Orlando’s fight

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

82 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” with the shepherds; he dismembers numerous people as Ariosto recounts with graphic detail. In canto 27, upon losing Doralice, Rodomont falls into a deep melancholy, much like Orlando, in which he ceases sleeping and speaking and wanders through the country. He recovers from the melancholic episode only to fall in love with Isabel, who tricks him into beheading her. Upon losing this love, he coerces locals into building a tomb to Isabel and removes himself from society.32 The final fit of madness begins in canto 35 when Bradamant defeats Rodomont in combat. In shame at being beaten by a woman, he removes his armor and pledges to “spen(d) a year, a month, and a day in his cell as a hermit.”33 This madness continues into his return in canto 46 and his battle with Ruggiero, in which Rodomont fights “in a passion of rage” while Ruggiero “remained self-possessed,”34 a difference that provides evidence of Rodomont’s madness. Rodomont differs from Orlando in that he begins the poem in a state of madness and falls into and out of his fits, which have varying causes: lost love, lost honor, and natural temperament. The varying causes of madness between Orlando and Rodomont and the difference between their eventual fates reveal the contemporary Italian view of religion as identity’s essential constituent element and allow the poem to be read as religious propaganda supporting wars against Muslims, which, although the last of the original Crusades was in 1270 CE, continued into the seventeenth century (and one could argue extend until today). Ariosto (1474–1533) composed Orlando Furioso in Italy, the heart of the Roman Catholic faith, during a tumultuous time. Two major Catholic powers, France and Spain, were waging a war for European supremacy fought largely in Italy, thus threatening the autonomy of Italian states. Ariosto’s poem depicted the Muslims as the true threat to European sovereignty in an attempt to quell the international conflicts and offer a rallying point to unite the warring Catholic nations. During Ariosto’s lifetime, in 1516, although Louis Brehier argues that by this point, “the leagues for the crusade were no longer anything but political combinations, and the preaching of the Holy War seemed to the people nothing but a means of raising money,”35 the Italian courts as well as the Catholic Church would still have found anti-Muslim religious propaganda useful and appealing as it supported their need to make peace between France and Spain. Ariosto’s poem was clearly written for a courtly audience as evidenced by the narrative’s continued references and appeals to the court, which provides a motive for its political message. Having the madness of the European, Christian Orlando and the foreign, pagan Rodomont manifest in like fashion places whites and Others within the same strata of civil society; both of them exist as human beings, and their mad behavior represents their shared capacity to lose that humanity. Although Ariosto presents both Orlando and Rodomont as human, he does not present them as equal. In Ariosto’s poem, the European, Christian Orlando, and the Pagan, Rodomont, experience similar forms of iconic

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 83 madness. Both undergo visual and behavioral transformations that place them outside the bounds of civil society: they remove clothing, become violent, and cease speaking. Ultimately, however, their religion causes the difference in the fate of the two characters. In Orlando’s case, love is the immediate cause of madness; for Rodomont, madness is an inherent part of his personality. By having Orlando’s madness turn out to be a punishment from God, Ariosto places the origin of madness outside of the European (“white”) body. It places humanity as an inherent virtue of Christians, something that can be lost only through divine will. Rodomont, on the other hand, has recurring violent outbursts and frenzied behavior that is left unexplained, leaving the reading to assume that they are part of his nature. The origin of his madness is of a baser, earthly nature that is located within the pagan body. The poem defines humanity based on its relationship to madness; the Christian, Orlando, is inherently human while the Pagan, Rodomont, is inherently mad, which positions the two in an irreconcilable antagonism. Ariosto links the fates of the characters and their madness to their religious affiliation in a manner that elevates the Christian and demeans the Muslim. Although Astolfo ascends to the heavens to recover Orlando’s wits, it is the will of God that it be done, and God sends a messenger to guide Astolfo’s quest. The Apostle John informs Astolfo that: Your Orlando has misappropriated the standards committed to him, and God is punishing him—for He is harshest against those He most loves, when they offend Him. At his birth God endowed him with great strength and courage to the highest degree…But your Orlando has given his Lord a poor return for such great benefits…Therefore God hath sent him mad, to go about with bared chest and belly, and has so clouded his reason that he cannot recognize anyone, still less himself.36 Ariosto places the power to cure madness only in the hands of the Christian God, and thus allows a cure for Orlando based on his religion. Likewise, Rodomont’s religion more than any other factor leads to his demise. His madness is incurable because, as a pagan, he does not have access to heaven and God’s grace. By having Orlando and Rodomont’s madness manifest in similar manners, Ariosto establishes the two characters as coinhabitors of civil society. By offering divine providence as the cause and cure of Orlando’s madness while offering an internal cause and no cure for Rodomont, Ariosto makes their religion the distinguishing factor in their identities, relegating Rodomont to a lower status than Orlando and enforcing the text’s religious propaganda. Greene’s Orlando maintains the iconic representation of madness of Ariosto’s original text; however, most of these iconically mad acts take place off stage and are reported by a third party. When questioned on the

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

84 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” location of Orlando, his man Orgalio responds, “He, my lord, runs madding through the woods/Like mad Orestes in his greatest rage.”37 Greene follows Ariosto’s text by having Orlando wander through the woods, outside civilization. When next Orlando enters, he is attired “like a madman.”38 While the text gives no clues as to what exactly this attire consists of, the costume is emblematic of madness and allows other characters to recognize him as mad by sight, indicating that his appearance is outside the bounds of what is culturally normal and acceptable. His behavior further removes him from the refinements of culture and civilization. His actions become at first delusional and, soon after, violent and beyond the norms of expected human behavior. The first indication of his madness is his delusions. Upon seeing trees carved with “Medor and Angelica,” Orlando begins to see the other characters as Medor. Upon receiving confirmation from Orgalio that Sacripant’s Man is Medor, Orlando chases him offstage and “rends him as one would tear a lark,” returning to the stage with the man’s leg around his neck. Other mad actions are witnessed in the episode as told by Tom and Ralph: Sirrah Ralph, and thou’lt go with me, I’ll let thee see the bravest madman that ever thou sawest. RALPH: Sirrah Tom, I believe it was he that was at our town o’ Sunday: I’ll tell thee what he did, sirrah. He came to our house, when all our folks were gone to church, and there was nobody at home but I, and I was turning of the spit, and he comes in, and bade me fetch him some drink. Now, I went and fetched him some; and ere I came again, by my troth, he ran away with the roast meat, spit and all, and so we had nothing but porridge to dinner. TOM: By my troth, that was brave: but, sirrah, he did so course the boys, last Sunday; and if ye call him madman, he’ll run after you, and tickle your ribs so with his flap of leather that he hath, as it passeth.39 TOM:

The theft and violence Orlando commits breach the standards of civilization. During his madness, all of Orlando’s interactions with other characters contain physical violence. He beats Orgalio, Tom, Ralph, and the Fiddler, and murders Brandimart in combat. Greene uses all of these methods of iconic madness to maintain a connection to Ariosto’s source material. The madness of Greene’s Orlando, while capturing elements of the medieval iconic madness, does not include the silent aspect of Ariosto’s Orlando. Greene adapts Orlando’s madness for Early Modern England by evolving it to include what Valesio calls “linguistic madness,” which he describes as: a form of linguistic expression which suggests the structural complexity and the sophistication of language, while at the same time being sufficiently differentiated with respect to the language of the higher cultural traditions.40

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 85 Valesio finds this paradoxical structure in the language of folk literature,41 and classifies six categories of folk language: riddles, jokes, and games; proverbs; flowers, emblems, and similar objects; superstitions and traditions; songs; and folktale themes.42 Greene’s Orlando engages with all six of these folk language tropes. The first sign of his madness is linguistic in nature. Shortly after his spying the trees carved with “Medor and Angelica,” Orlando’s language becomes filled with classical allusions and folktale themes. He names numerous classical figures from ancient religions and literature, such as Greek, Roman, and Canaanite gods and goddesses: Ate, Venus, Charon, Adon, Titans, and Medusa to name a few. Miranda Johnson-Haddad, in her 1994 article “Englishing Ariosto: “Orlando Furioso” at the Court of Elizabeth I,” argues that “Orlando’s insane ravings seem closer to King Lear (or a bad parody of it) then to “la gran follia, si orrenda” that Ariosto describes.”43 She argues quite correctly that these linguistic tropes would have been more recognizable as madness to an Elizabethan audience than the remnants of Ariosto’s iconic madness. While Johnson-Haddad points to Greene’s literary and dramatic adjustments to make Orlando Furioso palatable for the Court of Elizabeth, the scope of her article does not include the changes in social and political propaganda Greene creates to have the play present an Early Modern agenda of imperialism and black abjection. Like Ariosto, Greene also wrote his The History of Orlando Furioso for a courtly audience, and because of that, adapted Ariosto’s political message to something that would appeal to Elizabeth’s Court. By the first staging of Greene’s play in 1594, Queen Elizabeth had already given her approval for the imperial conquest of Africa and the start of African slavery via the triangle trade with the New World. In 1564, Queen Elizabeth helped fund John Hawkins’s second slaving voyage to the Americas.44 After the first production of Greene’s play in 1594, the royal opinion toward blacks became more negative. In 1596, two years after the staging of Greene’s play, Elizabeth showed evidence that black lives were valued less than those of Englishmen when she issued three separate decrees attempting to rid England of blacks.45 The first step Greene takes to capture this ideological shift is to remove the religious basis for identity from his play. Greene’s play focuses not on the religion of his characters like Ariosto’s poem, but instead on their geographical origin as the determining factor of identity. Since England in Greene’s life was no longer a Catholic nation and had essentially removed itself from the Catholic Church’s continuing struggles against Muslims by the sixteenth century and in fact was at war with Catholic Spain, the direct connection to Holy Wars against Muslims did not exist for his audience, but rather seemed an archaic concept. To update his play for contemporary sensibilities, he changes the message from one of pro-Catholic propaganda to one that supports England’s growing imperialist aims. Greene alters Ariosto’s geography to capture a contemporary zeitgeist by including the New World geography of transatlantic countries. Ariosto’s

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

86 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” original poem maintained a medieval geography established during the Crusades, including: Italy, France, Germany, India, the Middle East, North Africa, and Spain. Although Ariosto began work on his poem in approximately 1506, by which time news of the discovery of the “New World” in 1492 had become widespread, he set his poem in the medieval period and maintained the medieval geography. This geography distinguishes European from foreign on religious lines; the Catholic nations are considered normal while Muslim nations are considered simply foreign and Other. Incorporating New World geography would force Ariosto to consider the identity of a new group of people unknowable to and not yet classified by the European-Catholic/Foreign-Muslim dichotomy, so he instead ignores them. In contrast, including New World geography works both dramatically and ideologically for Greene: it plays into the exoticism trend that currently inhabited Early Modern stages, and it supports England’s burgeoning imperialist attitude. Greene expands the geography of Orlando Furioso to include the “New World” discoveries of Cuba, Mexico, the Isles (which the text describes as “the bordering isles” of Cuba and Mexico, meaning the Caribbean), and also divides Africa into two regions, specifically Africa and Egypt. In The History of Orlando Furioso, Orlando remains the representative of the homeland, the norm, as he does in Ariosto’s work; however, Greene changes the geographical origin of Ariosto’s Other characters so that each country, old and new, has one representative: Marsilius, Emperor of Africa; the Soldan of Egypt; Rodomont, king of Cuba; Mandricard, King of Mexico; Brandimart, King of the Isles; and Sacripant, a Saracen (Arab). Each of these characters, based solely on their nation of origin and not their religious affiliation, is marked as an Other. Each of these characters would have had an exotic appeal that enticed and mystified Elizabethan audiences as well. Greene then forces an imperialist reading of his play by having each one of these men either die at the hands of Orlando or become subservient to him. By further fractioning the geography and having Orlando be the victor over all of them, Greene supports an imperialist agenda that would have garnered favor in the Elizabethan Court. Another way Greene establishes subjectivity based on geography rather than religion is by removing the madness of Others. While Ariosto’s poem portrays some non-European Muslims as mad, and indeed, the whole world as mad, only one of Greene’s characters, Orlando, exhibits recognizable signs of madness. Since Greene removes the madness from all characters except for Orlando, a direct comparison between the madness of Orlando and the madness of Others in Greene’s play and Ariosto’s poem is impossible, but the absence of mad Others in itself makes a statement on their status as subjects. While having no geographical Others appear as madmen may appear to elevate their status by allowing them to remain human, it would actually have the opposite effect by leaving Orlando unparalleled. He is singled out against a set of undistinguished Others. Greene, however, does not stop simply with dividing humanity into English and Other, but contests the notion that all Others are equal and

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 87 opens a second division between what I call “geographical Others,” whose Otherness is defined based on a national or geographical heritage outside England, and “racial Others,” whose Otherness is based on blackness, namely black Africans. Through his focus on geography and through his narrative, Greene relegates both geographical Others and racial Others to a status below that of the full English subject, but then goes on to lower the status of blacks even further, placing them not just below the English subject, but below humanity itself. He recognizes the humanity of non-black Others and positions them as provisional subjects whose humanity is contingent on their actions while positioning blacks as a priori excluded from the possibility of subjectivity. Greene accomplishes this trichotomatic divide by having his Others face one of three fates: life, death, or submission. The fate of Greene’s non-black Others as compared with his black Others marks the former as living members of civil society and the latter as socially dead. Greene’s geographical distinction between Egypt and Africa separates the two and establishes Egyptian as a unique, non-African race, clearly dividing the class of Others into non-black and black. Thanks to the development of the printing press and a growing number of translations of foreign and classical texts, the Anglo population began to form stereotypes of blacks based on classical Greek and Roman texts, travel logs, and geographic journals created by Portuguese explorers during voyages of discovery to Africa in the fifteenth century. One of the earliest and most popular descriptions of Africans came from the Elder Pliny’s work, A Summarie of the Antiquities and Wonders of the World, first published in English in 1566, which chronicles the extraordinary types of people to inhabit the interior of sub-Saharan Africa, including but not limited to cannibals, half-man/half-animal creatures, and deformed men who have mouths in their stomachs and heads growing beneath their shoulders.46 During the period of African conquest, explorers formed and perpetuated inaccurate opinions of black Africans based on existing texts (such as Pliny’s), hearsay, their own imagination, and their observations of African tribal culture, and classified sub-Saharan Africans as uncivilized and barbarous savages. The reason for these classifications was that the sub-Saharan African traditions and culture did not fit into a European value structure. Factors in determining the inferiority of black Africans ranged from large ideological differences, such as the black Africans’ lack of knowledge of the Christian faith, to cultural differences, such as the black Africans’ propensity toward nudity and incomprehensible language.47 While the black Africans were not fully nude (their genitals were usually covered), clothing in Early Modern England was directly related to status, and in the Early Modern English paradigm, a lack of one equated to a lack of the other. The English population also considered blacks lazy, criminal, and irresponsible with an inherent inclination to drunkenness and sexual promiscuity, all of which are traits that the Early Modern English associated with “uncivilized” cultures.48 These stereotypical characteristics of blackness are similar to those of madness: nudity, lack of language, and animalistic and violent behavior. So while

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

88 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” Greene does not portray his black Africans in this manner in the play, the triangulation of madness, inhumanity, and blackness was already prevalent as a social stereotype, making inhumanity and blackness inseparable and thus making the portrayal of the always already inhuman black African as visibly mad or animalistic redundant. By portraying the black African as following the norms of European society in dress and language but still being subjected by the European, Greene is showing that regardless of the actions of the black African, he is still of a lower status and his autonomous subjectivity is impossible. Two of Greene’s Others, the Soldan of Egypt and Mandricard, do not face a horrific outcome. Egypt’s fate is unknown; his last appearance and mention in the play is on page seven, and no mention is made of what happens to him. Mandricard, while being listed as “King of Mexico,” is not actually an Other, but clearly a Spaniard and a representation of Spain’s imperialist aims. First, historically, the King of Mexico would be the King of Spain, as Mexico is the name given to the land by the Spanish. Second, he threatens an imperialist invasion of Africa that challenges England’s right to the land if he does not receive Angelica’s hand: I vow to hie me home to Mexico, To troop myself with such a crew of men As shall so fill the downs of Africa, Like to the plains of watery Thessaly, Whenas an eastern gale whistling aloft Hath overspread the ground with grasshoppers. Then see, Marsilius, if the Palatine Can keep his love from falling to our lots, Or thou canst keep thy country free from spoil.49 Third, Orgalio makes particular mention of his majesty, “Such sparks of peerless majesty/ From those looks flame, like lightning from the east,/ As either Mandricard, or else some greater prince.”50 Being a white European, Orgalio, by his comments, establishes Mandricard’s status as an equal in civil society. Fourth, and most important, the right to his life and his lands is never challenged. Orlando even marks him as an equal at the end of the play. When he recovers Angelica and recuperates from his madness, Orlando’s first speech is: Thanks, my sweet love.— But why stand the Prince of Africa, And Mandricard the King of Mexico, So deep in dumps, when all rejoice beside? First know, my lord, I slaughter’d Sacripant, I am the man that did the slave to death; Who frankly there did make confession,

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 89 That he engrav’d the roundelays on the trees, And hung the schedules of poor Medor’s love, Intending by suspect to breed debate Deeply ’twixt me and fair Angelica: His hope had hap, but we had all the harm; And now revenge leaping from out the seat Of him that may command stern Nemesis, Hath pour’d those treasons justly on his head. What saith my gracious lord to this?51 Instead of having Mandricard be dominated or murdered, Greene has Orlando amicably resolve Mandricard’s imperialist intentions for Africa when Marsilius submits his lands to Orlando. All of these moments work to establish Mandricard not as an Other as his name suggests, but rather as a European rival. Three of Greene’s Others, Sacripant, Brandimart, and Rodomont, those that represent Arabia, the Isles, and Cuba, all die at Orlando’s hand. Sacripant is murdered for the treachery of convincing Orlando that Angelica was in love with Medor, thus causing his madness. Having the Arabian die at Orlando’s hand maintains a link to Ariosto’s original work and his religious agenda. The other two are slain for challenging Orlando’s right to Angelica, daughter of Africa. They challenge England’s right to Africa, a transgression they must commit before being subject to European violence. Basing their fate on their choice to commit a transgression, establishes these non-black Others as interlocutors in civil society rather than a priori excluded from it. Marsilius the African, however, does not die. Marsilius commits no transgression against the Europeans other than existing: unlike Brandimart and Rodomont, he is not a competitor for Angelica; and, unlike Sacripant, he commits no acts of violence or treachery against anyone. Instead, he suffers a fate worse than death: he willingly surrenders his daughter and his lands to Orlando. He is not a contestant as are the other kings, but rather the placeholder of the object of their rivalry: the African land and people. He does not die a physical death because it would be redundant. Through his treatment of Marsilius, Greene establishes blackness as the abject of humanity, what Orlando Patterson calls in his book Slavery and Social Death “ontological slavery” or “social death.” Greene needs Marsilius alive physically so that the European has a stable basis against which to define his subjectivity. By surrendering his daughter and his homeland, the one true black African male, Marsilius, loses both his heritage and his kinship ties. He willingly becomes natally alienated, one of the elements of Patterson’s “ontological slavery” or “social death.” Marsilius is dishonored when Orlando calls him “Prince of Africa,”52 a title far below that of emperor, with which he is bestowed in the dramatis personae. Orlando, who is only a count, plainly states “I am no king,”53 yet he is able to belittle the rank and status of the black emperor by referring to him as Prince, and ultimately to

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

90 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” take away the possession of his land and daughter. Greene makes Marsilius alone devoid of any real power solely for being a black African, so Orlando does not need a title to establish his dominance over Marsilius; all he needs is his status as a member of civil society. This “general dishonor” is another of the elements of Patterson’s Slave. Although the non-black Others suffer physical death, they retain some dignity by dying in battle as potential rivals to Orlando. Only the black African can never be his rival but rather is made to suffer submission, natal alienation, and social death, and by doing so, provides a stable counterpart to define European subjectivity. In both Ariosto’s poem and Greene’s play, the role of the feminine presence in the madness of Orlando supports their given social agendas. In Ariosto’s poem, Orlando’s madness is initially triggered by the loss of his beloved Angelica. Losing Angelica is not, however, the true cause of his madness, which turns out to be divine punishment. Once Orlando’s wits are restored, his love for Angelica disappears, and she and Medor remain together. By having Orlando’s affection for Angelica disappear when his madness is cured, Ariosto makes Orlando’s love a symptom of madness, not its cause, positioning miscegenation as a sickness of which one can and must be cleansed. This has larger political implications because it supports a religious separatist agenda. Ariosto makes love for the Other a symptom of madness, and worse, of divine punishment. He is suggesting that any Catholic who shows love to the pagan Other is already being punished by God. Greene also uses the role of the feminine to support a political agenda, but once again he adapts it for contemporary ideologies. In Greene’s play, Orlando’s madness is caused by Sacripant’s treachery; he falsely makes Orlando believe that Angelica is cheating. In the introduction to their book Nationalism and Sexualities, Andrew Parker, Mary Russo, Doris Sommer, and Patricia Yeager argue that “national identity is determined not on the basis of its own intrinsic properties but as a function of what it (presumably) is not,”54 so in nationalist and imperialist missions, the colonizers will feminize the colonized to create a masculine position of power for themselves. The “trope of nation-as-woman,” they argue “depends on the representational efficacy of a particular image of woman as chaste, dutiful, daughterly, or maternal.”55 We see this process of feminization of the Other occur in Greene’s play. Ariosto’s Angelica is from China and is a figure of the frustratingly elusive and uncontrollable, as she travels widely on her own and vanishes back into the beyond. Greene’s adaptation changes both Angelica’s race and changes her nature to align Africa as the ideal nation-as-woman conquest. Greene makes Angelica the daughter of the black African emperor, Marsilius, which prompts the audience to read her as black as well.56 Greene’s Angelica also has a different nature: she is a dutiful daughter and chaste. Greene centers his play on a competition for the right to the ideal nation-as-woman Angelica, who is unspoiled, thus creating a representation of Africa that is feminized and suitable for imperial conquest. He then has

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 91 Angelica choose Orlando as her husband despite his comparatively small wealth and title, showing that Orlando, as a white European, has an intrinsic quality that makes him superior to the Others and makes him most suitable to be conqueror. Orlando’s pursuit of Angelica, then, can be read as a metaphor for the conquest of Africa. In addition to positioning the black female body as a nation to be conquered, he also maps an analogy onto the white female body in a way that causes a triangulation of sanity, imperialism, and the feminine. When Orlando thinks he has lost his claim to Angelica, he becomes mad. Since he has already mapped Africa onto Angelica’s body, Greene is arguing that losing Angelica is akin to not pursuing an imperialist mission for Africa. Thus, losing Angelica is not the cause of Orlando’s madness, but rather the cause is the thought of losing his imperial conquest to a rival. Greene is justifying England’s imperialist agenda by claiming that not to pursue a conquest of Africa would be madness. Greene then has Orlando’s madness cured by a white woman, the enchantress Melissa, who is a paragon of truth and virtue. The text opens the possibility that Greene intended Melissa to mirror Queen Elizabeth herself. Melissa ultimately has the most power in Greene’s play. She is a deus ex machina of sorts; she appears with a wand and, with a wave of it and her words, she reveals the truth about Sacripant’s treachery, cures Orlando, and allows him to resume his conquest of Angelica. Ultimately, it is Melissa who has the power to determine the fate not only of Europe, but of foreign kingdoms as well. By making Melissa the cure for Orlando’s madness, Greene places what Ariosto positioned as the power of God onto the virtuous white woman, the play’s representation of Queen Elizabeth, thus advocating Elizabeth’s monarchy as divine right and showing that she is the one with the power to determine England’s imperialist future. By having the lack of an imperialist urge be symptomatic of Orlando’s madness, Greene encourages Elizabeth to pursue the conquest and domination of Africa. Diagramming the differences between Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso and Robert Greene’s The History of Orlando Furioso is important because it limits the origin of race as a socially recognized constituent element of identity both temporally and geographically. Ariosto’s 1516 Italian work still divides the world into a religious dichotomy between Catholics and pagan Others. Fast forward eighty-eight years and travel 1,000 miles north, and the world is divided into a trichotomy of white, non-black Other and black Other. Both Ariosto’s and Greene’s Orlando Furioso produce political propaganda that supports their respective societies’ view of the constituent elements of identity; for Ariosto, it is religion and for Greene they are race and geography. Greene’s adaptation not only restructures Ariosto’s work to make it accessible for the Early Modern stage, but by changing the manifestations and causes of madness, the geographic origins of the Others, and the role of the feminine in the madness, he also updates the work to promote an Elizabethan political agenda of imperialism and black abjection.

92 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much”

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Presenting Moors and Blacks Mr. Moore’s Revels (1636) is a little-known masque/antimasque performance that was lost to scholars for 350 years. While its existence was known, its location was not. F.G. Fleay mentions the play in his 1891 list of “University Plays in English.”57 G.E. Bentley (1956)58 and Harbage and Schoembaum (1940)59 both acknowledge the play’s existence, although under different titles. Finally, John R. Elliot Jr. uncovered the manuscript in the Oxford Bodleian library and published it in Renaissance Quarterly in 1984.60 Considering the scholarly interest in studies of race in Early Modern England, the play’s portrayal of both Moors and blacks concurrently, and its specific usage of blackface, since its discovery, a shockingly low number of scholars have addressed this play. Kim Hall writes specifically about it in Race, Ethnicity, and Power in the Renaissance.61 Her article “‘Troubling Doubles’: Apes, Africans, and Blackface in Mr. Moore’s Revels” gives an enticing reading of the play and its conceptions of Africans and apes. Hall cites the use of blackface to represent both the Moors and the apes in Mr. Moore’s Revels as a mimetic link between the two; indicating both types with the same theatrical convention allows the players and the audience to register the two as equals. She marks the erasure of blackness in the verse with its concurrent reappearance on stage as a reiteration of the “inexhaustible ‘constancy’ of blackness and its centrality to white subjectivity.”62 Hall’s argument, while acknowledging the necessity of blackness in constructing the white subject, makes the same assumptions as most scholars of race in Early Modern England: that the concept of race was based on a divide between white or English and Other, placing all darker races on an equal plane of existence. While I do not contest the basis of her argument, that Early Modern English society viewed black Africans as grotesque subhumans on the same level as apes, she only addresses race as a construction of society, and does not address the ways that race constructs society. I propose a different reading: that the use of blackface in Mr. Moore’s Revels separates the two classes represented in blackface at a structural level into the Moorish Other and the black abject. In other words, the portrayals of blackness in Mr. Moore’s Revels display a realignment of the paradigmatic structure of Early Modern England from white versus Other to Non-black versus black, incorporating the Moorish Other into civil society based on the introduction of the black abject. Mr. Moore’s Revels is one of the few plays from the period to portray both Moors and blacks, and while the theatrical representation of the two types is accomplished through the same cosmetic technique, the piece clearly separates the Moors from the blacks structurally, incorporating the Moors into civil society and relegating the blacks to subhuman status. The entertainment begins with an anti-masque consisting of “six moores (mr moore himselfe being one) having six blacke buckram coats laced with yellow straw each of them bearing a javlin in his hand” (l. 18–22). Although the

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 93 play refers to these Moors as “negroes” (l. 24) and “blacke” (l. 30), it also refers to them as “Indian” (l. 25) and “natives” (l. 27). The myriad terms used to describe these Moors reinforce the well-acknowledged ambiguity surrounding the term “Moor” in the period. Although referring to them as “blacke” and “negro,” the play’s narrative and staging both work to elevate the Moors to a higher status than the blacks and to incorporate them as provisional members of civil society based on the approval of an audience composed of subjects. Moore crafted the text of Mr. Moore’s Revels carefully to propose a paradigmatic shift of the occupant of the abject position that is the foundation for the construction of white subjectivity by creating Moors that are structural antagonists of blacks. He avoids the language of inferiority that often applied to the Moor; he never refers to them as barbarous or irrational, nor does he classify them by race or species. Instead, he refers to them only as a different “hew” or hue. Moore’s use of “hue” in his revels offers the same proposition, that the dark color of the Moors is not an a priori, structural blackness that defines the abject, but rather a social construction. He challenges the audience to accept the Moors as a subject, thus placing the onus for Moorish blackness onto the white subject, stating that: If by your smiles their sports may be advanct Though th’are ill visag’d y’are well countenanc’t If you’le proclaime them candid who’le deny Th’are whit who dare say blacke vnto their eye.63 (l.33–36) Moore is saying that the Moor can be made white by the audience acknowledging them as white, even though they may still be black to the eye. He then makes a recognition of the Moor as human subject by staging the whitening of the Moor based solely on the audience’s approval: The six moores danc’t, after which being ended they left ye stage and went downe to lay aside their blacke-coats And to come vp againe…64 Now that the audience has approved the Moors as white, Moore focuses on the Moors as a different “hue” rather than inherently different: The joyfull moore hath chang’d his native hew And pensive sable being made ffayre by you H’as left his mourning weeds chusing to bee Invested with your glorious livery; Since hees your candidate after this night Since y’have smild ofs blackenesse heele be white.65

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

94 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” The Moors’ change from black to white, indicated by the changing color of their coats, removes the possibility of basing white subjectivity on the Moors’ aesthetic difference. The change acts as a recognition of Moorish humanity despite their religious Otherness. Moore stages the transmutation of Moors from blackness to Otherness, an act that reveals that the early English association of Moors with blackness was not indelible, thus destabilizing the Moor as a foundation upon which to construct human subjectivity. Through the Moor’s transformation, Moore challenges the conflation of Moorishness and blackness in Mr. Moore’s Revels, by positioning Moors as white with a removable black layer, thus positioning the Moors as similar to the whites. Staging the transformation of the Moors from black to white destabilizes the foundation upon which English subjectivity is built by placing the Moor, the false abject against which the English developed their subjectivity on religious grounds, as now a subject alongside them. In positioning the Moors as white, or as having the capacity to become white, Moore acknowledges the paradigmatic shift away from religion as the basis for subjectivity, and realigns the paradigm along Early Modern English conceptions of race, altering the antagonism from a division between white and black, with the Moors being the latter, to a division between non-black and black, with the Moors being the former. Moore’s aesthetic conversion of the Moor is a more than just a subversion of stereotypes, but a subversion of the religion-based paradigm of Early Modern English subjectivity; it is a representation of their paradigmatic conversion of the Moor from the falsely perceived abject of religion to the provisional subject whose subjectivity is dependent on the approval of whiteness. This narrative of changing hues in Mr. Moore’s Revels offers a form of ontological resistance for the Moor by recognizing what we would call the Sartrean bad faith inherent in their blackening. The play begins with an introduction of the six Moors. Moore then recognizes that although they are different from the audience, the only reason for their “ill favour” is skin color: If with your countenance they may bee grac’t They’re sure to well ffavour’d though ill fac’t.66 Moore then makes a move to create Moors that are not innately different at the level of structure, but rather are only aesthetically different from the white subject. He places the Moor in a position of subjective ambivalence—they are neither a priori black nor are they fully white. That they are able to shift within the play from black, which is the abject of humanity, to white, the human, shows that their blackness was required by the English subject to construct the difference through illogical means rather than acknowledging the fact of their shared humanity. Moore does not place the Moors as equals, but rather creates a liminal space for the Moor within civil society, one that is not an abject, but another kind of

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 95

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

subject, an Other. The play then makes a plea to the audience for conditional acceptance of the Moor: If by your smiles their sports may be advanct Though th’are ill visag’d y’are well countenanc’t If you’le proclaime them candid who’le deny Th’are whit who dare say blacke vnto their eye.67 This acceptance of the Moor’s whiteness is an acceptance of their humanity. This plea is both a recognition of the Moor as human and a recognition of the bad faith necessary to blacken of them. If their blackness can be disavowed, then their capacity to belong to civil society was never absent, but rather a conscious decision dependent on a temporary disavowal of the truth that while the Moor may be Other, the Moor is not abject black. In addition to the change from black to white, Moore’s text offers further subversion of stereotypes associated to blackness when presenting his Moors. Moore diffuses one of the inherent threats associated with blackness, insatiable sexual appetites, from the Moorish body through the metaphor of the javelin. Each of his six Moors enters onto the stage “bearing a javlin in his hand,” which is not only an instrument of war, but also a metaphor for the stereotype of the enhanced phallus and sexual appetites of the black. Kim Hall and Emily Bartels both argue that, rather than their difference, it was the black’s similarity to the English that was the source of anxiety and a threat to Englishness. Miscegenation, the Early Modern English feared, could produce offspring that was harder to classify as Other, thus making them more threatening. Moore perpetuates these stereotypes of blackness in his Moors, and then quickly undermines them: Let none suspect their innocence or ffeare Their harmelesse hands though armed with a speare These inoffensive javelins were design’d ffor noe intent but this to be resign’d vnto your feete.68 He literally disarms the Moors by having them lay their weapons at the feet of the audience while metaphorically removing the threat associated with white/Moor miscegenation. Kim Hall argues that this is an affirmation of the blackness of the Moors, that the laying down of the spears is an act of emasculation and submission,69 but again I offer a counterpoint to her argument. Had the phallic object of the javelin been removed without further transformation of the Moors, then I would agree with Hall that it is purely an act of emasculation and submission. Hall, however, does not recognize the possibility that the laying down of the javelins is part of the process of conversion from black to white. Laying down the javelins works not only as an act of submission that keeps the Moors at a lower social status than the

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

96 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” English, but it also works as a disavowal of their blackness and a removal of the threat of interracial breeding. The disarming of the Moors is not a removal of the phallic object, but rather a realignment of the phallic object that places the Moors’ sexuality not as a threat to white subjectivity, but rather as a tool at the service of white subjectivity. While Mr. Moore’s Revels presents narrative and staging mechanisms to grant Moors provisional incorporation into civil society, the play is not as charitable to black Africans. Now that the narrative and staging have worked to whiten Moors, they take a turn in their portrayals of blackness, presenting it as the opposite of the Moorish provisional subject and the white subject, acknowledging that abject blackness is a firm, inhuman foundation upon which to define human subjectivity. Through the use of narrative and blackface cosmetics, Moore positions blackness not just as primitive and subhuman by equating blackness with apes, but as inhumanity attempting to imitate humanity. Although the same cosmetic technique is used in both the representation of Moorishness and the representation of blackness, the manner in which Moore deploys the convention places the two in opposition to each other. While the play shows Moors with the capacity to transform themselves and belong to white subjectivity, the reverse is the case for the blacks. Once the Moors transform from black to white, blackness retakes the stage in a new form, that of the ape. The connections between apes and Africans extend back at least to 1634, when Sir Thomas Herbert described the natives of the Cape of Good Hope as similar to apes in movement, language, and look, stating “comparing their imitations, speech and visages, I doubt many of them have no better Predecessors than Monkeys.”70 Hall’s article argues further for the literary and pictorial connections between Africans and apes in Early Modern England, and while these connections are at work in Mr. Moore’s Revels, I think they are working opposite of how Hall argues them. Hall argues that the masque uses the same performance convention to represent both black apes and Moors as a way of linking the two. She does not address the ways in which the removal of the Moors’ blackness affects this relationship. Although both the Moors and the blacks in Mr. Moore’s Revels are portrayed with blackface cosmetics, the performance separates the two groups into those with the capacity to belong through the acceptance of civil society and those who are innately beneath civil society. I argue that the text and the staging do not intend for the audience to connect the Moors and the apes, but rather they are meant to separate the two. The use of dual transformations, both to and from blackness, shows the structural position of each of the two groups in relation to humanity as defined by the white, English subject. While the Moors begin the play as black, they also begin the play with the capacity for whiteness, as evidenced by the transformation to whiteness upon the audience’s approval. The ability to become white connects the Moor to the contemporary theories of whiteness as the original state of humanity and dark complexions as the result of an infirmity

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 97 of some sort, whether moral or physical. Upon submission and approval, the dark-skinned Moors become recognized as human subjects whose structural position likens them to whiteness, but still maintains their social inferiority and Otherness. Moore’s staging further separates the blacks by presenting the apes not as actual apes, but rather as inhumans imitating humanity. The transformation of human actors into black apes is intended to denigrate black Africans by presenting them not as an imitation of the subject, but rather as an inhuman imitation of the Moorish Other. The entrance of the apes in the texts reads: As ye moores left ye stage each of the Apes had an inkehorne in his hand to blacke themselves To resemble ye moores and yat they might see to doe it exactly one of them had a lookinglasse.71 Hall argues that the ambiguity of the term Moor combined with the use of blackface for both the Moors and the Apes positions the two on equal status as Other. While the blackface cosmetics are used to represent both the Moors and the blacks, the cosmetics allow the audience to witness two transformations involving blackness; not only do they witness the Moors turning from black to white, but they also witness the actors’ transformation from white human to black ape. The staging choice to make the audience privy to the actors’ blackening makes two distinct statements about the way in which the paradigm of Early Modern England was constructed on a white/black binary that structurally separated the two into human and inhuman. First, as Kim Hall argues, and I agree, the move shows an understanding of the necessity of blackness in the construction of the subject. Second, it shows not an equation between the Moor and the black, but rather a rupture between the two. The staging has the Moors remove their blackness, which then is taken up by the apes, showing a shift of the occupant of the black position from the religious abject of the Moor onto the human abject of the black. While the new blacks are referred to as apes in the text, the audience does not see apes, but rather sees people becoming black. That the ocular proof of their likeness to humanity precedes a linguistic identifier of their inhumanity reinforces the African/apes connections prevalent in Early Modern England; the audience sees a group that is obviously people and then is shown that their humanity is an illusion—an imitation. The imitation goes one step further, as the blacks do not imitate the white subject, but rather imitate the Other, making blackness two levels removed from the white subject. The act of revealing the shift to the audience creates a double metaphor; it shows the actors imitating blackness that is, in turn, animals imitating Moorishness. This dual imitation offers an alternate evolution for

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

98 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” blackness; it creates darker skinned human bodies that are derived from apes rather than created by an infirmity inflicted upon whiteness. It divides the dark-skinned races into two distinct classes: those that ontologically are denigrated humans and those that ontologically are evolved animals. This alternate evolution creates ambivalence toward blackness; it is recognized as an advancement in animal kind, but also as a being without the capacity for humanity. The staging of the revels establishes a hierarchy of subjectivity divided into three levels: the white subject, the Moorish Other, and its imitation, the black inhuman. The process of shifting the new paradigmatic blackness away from the Moorish body in Mr. Moore’s Revels reveals not only how blackness is the foundation for the definition of the human subject, but also how this foundation is constructed in bad faith. Moore acknowledges that the blacks are physically difference from apes, but requests that the audience deny these differences: I’ve brought a second course here by their shaps Each curteous eye may reade them to be Apes But if here any curious critticks bee Soe well verst in Apes Physiognomy As mistrust them heres a glasse will show If theyle looke in’t whether th’re apes or no.72 Moore states that anyone who is familiar with the physical attributes of apes will recognize that these blackface performers are not apes, but makes a plea for the audience to act in bad faith to deny the similarities to themselves. He relies on the audience’s ability to lie to itself to maintain his new construction of blackness. Moore makes clear that he is likening the blacks to apes based not on appearance, but rather on their performance. The text makes this clear a few lines later: But should wee dresse them by each censures glasse That which we mean’t an ape might proove an asse But to returne to our owne apes this messe Of mimicks have seene th’ moores expresse Themselves soe nimbly here are come to trye If they could counterfeit activitye.73 Since their physical appearance does not in and of itself confirm the blacks’ apeness, he asks the audience to determine whether the apes’ actions derive from internal or external motivations; in other words, are the apes acting in accordance with their own notions of the self, a distinctly human quality, or are they simply mimicking the Moors. While he acknowledges that the capacity for self-recognition is a sign of humanity, he then withholds this possibility from the blacks. In this stage direction, Moore does say that the

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 99 apes look in the mirror, but they are doing it as an act of mimicry; they are not attempting to recognize their internal selves and become an ape, but rather using the mirror to make themselves aesthetically similar to the Moors. Moore challenges the apes’ claim to a rational psyche by making the gesture of self-recognition completely divorced from any interior reflection or self-realization and making the act of recognition external rather than internal. Once they have completed the physical mimicry, Moore challenges the apes to look in the glass to confirm their humanity or inhumanity, but then does not present the opportunity for them to look in the glass. Moore grants the apes neither the opportunity nor the capacity to recognize what it means to be an ape, but only the opportunity to recognize how to look like a Moor. Withholding the opportunity for self-recognition is a gesture of bad faith by Moore. That Moore removes the capacity for a psyche and rational thought from the apes dismisses any potential capacity for humanity that the apes may have had.

Commodification, Property, and Power Not only does Mr. Moore’s Revels separate the Other from the abject, but it lays the foundation for the definition of the abject through the blacks’ relationship to culture and property. Reading Mr. Moore’s Revels from Afro-Pessimist and Marxist perspectives may seem anachronistic on the surface, but it is not. In terms of Afro-Pessimist theory, the non-black versus black antagonism that constructs modernity began as early as 700 AD with the Arab expansion into Africa. While Marxist theory grew with the expansion and domination of capitalist systems, the Early Modern English economy was proto-capitalist, demonstrating sharp differences from the pure feudalism of the medieval period. For the first time in England, wealth and status could be achieved through means other than birthright. Nonetheless, taking these modern principles and using them to analyze Moore’s piece furthers the argument for the play’s establishing separate ontological status for the Moor and the black. The paradigmatic separation between the Moor and the black in Mr. Moore’s Revels is displayed not only through the dual transformations, but also through the play’s portrayal of the commodification of blackness. While the concept of blackness as the abject served a purpose and existed in England long before the encounter with the black body, a material object is necessary for the commodification of the concept. Conceptual blackness lacked the materiality necessary for the Early Modern English to broker it as a commodity; once this conceptual blackness became grounded and embodied in the black African, the commodity potential of blackness was recognized. Scholars have examined the commodification of blackness as a symbol of both social and economic power. Early in the sixteenth century, royals used blacks in performances and pageants as an exotic way for the British elite to display their power. To the English, “possession of a black

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

100 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” slave was an emblem of riches, rank and fashion,”74 and “rich people would often display their wealth and good taste by dressing their black slaves in special costume.”75 Many Early Modern English people used blacks to display and perform power and wealth the same way people today use cars and jewelry. Evidence of blacks being festively dressed and used as status symbols occurs mostly in Restoration portraits, such as those of Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth, and Mary Somerset, Duchess of Ormonde.76 Hall argues that this commodification and display of blackness occurred in a similar manner to that of apes, thus animalizing blackness. Mr. Moore’s Revels reinforces the commodity value of blackness by removing the blacks’ capacity to own property. The masque does clothe the apes, which is a symbol of civility and humanity, but then identifies them as thieves of the clothing, referring to the Moors as the owners: Had you nere seene these coats before you’d guesse Th’were nere made ffor them by their tediousnesse. Taylo(u)rs you know good honest souls wont wrong Their customers to make their cloths too long They stole this ffrom ye AEthiops which shows Their fingers are ffarre nimbler than their toes Since they’re soe nimble ffinger’d it were meete They’d [stann] ‘dance’ vppon their hands steale with their ffeete But ffeare them not Ile warrant you theyle proove Theeves onely in this to steale a way your love.77 The blacks cannot own the clothes, but rather the right to ownership remains with the newly whitened Moor. The recognition of the clothing as belonging to the Moors instead of the blacks is an important distinction structurally; it makes the Moors into human beings who own commodities rather than being commodities themselves. As Orlando Patterson argues, the Slave lacks the capacity to own property, much like the blacks in Mr. Moore’s Revels. The newly whitened Moors, however, do have recognized rights to property, thus eliminating the possibility of the Moor occupying the abject Slave ontological position because if they can own a coat, they can own a slave. While the blacks’ literal adoption of the Moors’ coats makes a statement about the Slave status of blacks, the coats also act as a damning metaphor for the possibility of black culture. Clothing in Early Modern England acted as a symbol of both culture and status within that culture. Moore even places the English as the creators of the clothing onstage: Had you nere seene these coats before you’d guesse Th’were ne[a]re made ffor them by their tediousnesse Taylo(u)rs you know good honest souls wont wrong Their customers to make their cloths too long.78

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 101 Numerous Early Modern sources make mention of the Africans’ propensity toward nudity, and established it as a factor in determining the inferiority of Africans.79 Clothing in Early Modern England was directly linked to civility and humanity, and a lack of one equated to a lack of the other. Establishing the English as the creators of the clothing and the Moors as the owners removes not only the capacity for owning property from the blacks, but also removes their capacity to create. Removing the capacity to create from the black body positions it closer to the realm of the abject Slave. Examining the various representations of Moorishness and blackness in these three texts reveals that although attitudes toward blacks varied from person to person and period to period, the understanding of blackness as the a priori abject of the English subject does not vary. Each text presents a different understanding of the black body (or lack thereof), but they all present the black body as a different entity than the dark-skinned, Moorish body. Peele makes blackness the abject of the human subject by making the character of Muly Mahamet the lone black character as opposed to numerous socially incorporated white Moors, such as Abdelmelec. Greene makes blackness the abject of the human subject through the treatment of Africans as the property which Europeans and Moors rival each other to possess. Moore accomplishes making blackness the antithesis of humanity by presenting blacks as animals without the capacity for creation or ownership. In all three cases, the playwrights reveal a paradigm constructed along the lines of Patterson’s Master/Slave ontology, and expose a clear distinction between the civil, human Moor and the uncivil, inhuman black.

Notes 1. See the introduction to Margo Hendricks and Patricia Parker, eds., Women, “Race” and Writing in the Early Modern Period (New York: Routledge Press, 1993) for a broader discussion of the problematics of race in Early Modern England. 2. I discuss this in the introduction and for the sake of brevity will not repeat the conversation here. But this discussion is prevalent in works of varying periods. For how racial designations functioned consciously in the construction of community, see Greenblatt’s Renaissance Self-Fashioning (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), Thompson’s Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage (New York: Routledge Press, 2008), and Kim Hall’s Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995). 3. See Frank Wilderson, Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010). 4. Ibid., p. 39. 5. Emily C. Bartels, “Making More of the Moor: Aaron, Othello, and Renaissance Refashionings of Race,” Shakespeare Quarterly 41, no. 4 (Winter 1990): 434. 6. Imtiaz Habib’s collection of primary documents Black Lives in the English Archives uses black as an umbrella term for all darker skinned people recognized as non-English. His collection, while an extremely useful resource harvested

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

102 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much”

7.

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

from church, parish, and city records as well as other primary sources including tax and medical records, has trouble distinguishing the origins of the people in the record and gives little insight into their broader interactions with the English. He acknowledges that the references to these people are “cryptic,” but has no trouble assuming that both Moors and Negros were viewed as equally black by the English, and includes both in his work as such. Kim Hall’s Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England makes the same conflation as Habib. While she comments on blackness in the period as an aesthetic difference, her theory stops short of examining blackness in the period as an ontological difference. These assumptions focus only on the aesthetics of the peoples involved and not on their structural position. Lynda Boose’s 1994 article “‘The Getting of a Lawful Race’: Racial Discourse in Early Modern England and the Unrepresentable Black Woman” uses Otherness to categorize types of racial difference, then claims that the Irish were the primary Other race to the English and were perceived as on an equal playing field with those she calls blacks, such as Othello. In this case, she is right, but not in the way her article claims; she is correct that both the Irish and Othello exist similarly as Others, but this is because neither the Moorish Othello nor the Irish were ontologically black. Although later than the Renaissance, she offers a quote from Charles Kingsley (1860) as further evidence that the English equated Irish and Africans: “I am haunted by the human chimpanzees I saw along that hundred miles of horrible country. I don’t believe they are our fault. I believe there are not only many more of them than of old, but that they are happier, better, more comfortably fed and lodged under our rule than they ever were. But to see white chimpanzees is dreadful: if they were black, one would not feel it so much, but their skins, except where tanned by exposure, are as white as ours (as qtd. in Boose 37)”. While the text does show that, while the Irish were considered to be inferior to the English, the Irish warrant a level of empathy and consideration from the subject that the black does not and cannot evoke. The quote states that if the Irish were black, there would be no need to feel sympathy, thus separating the possibility of sympathy from blackness. Saidiya Hartman, in her groundbreaking work Scenes of Subjection, elaborates this argument using examples from antebellum American sources. Blackness, as the inhuman antagonist of civil society, does not warrant the consideration of human emotions that exist due to innate recognition of relationality between two humans. Kingsley then, contrary to Boose’s reading, can be read as an invocation of whiteness as the unifying factor of a humanity that exists in opposition to blackness. Tamim Ansary, Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (New York: Public Affairs Press, 2010), p. 147. Nabil Matar, Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), p. 6. Ibid., 9. Ibid., 83. Ibid., 8. These were discussed in the introduction, but I will reiterate them here. In his book Slavery and Social Death, Orlando Patterson defines “ontological slavery” or “social death” as an idiom of power that removes the capacity to own

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 103

14.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

15.

16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21.

22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27.

28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38.

property from the Slave. Patterson argues for three constituent elements of ontological Slavery natally alienated, generally dishonored, and subject to gratuitous violence prior to any act of transgression (chapter 1). In The Popular Image of the Black Man in English Drama 1550–1688, Elliot Tokson cites Muly Muhamet as the first black character in English drama. A portion of Anthony Barthelemy’s 1987 book Black Face, Maligned Race focuses on Peele’s play. Elliot Tokson’s 1982 book The Popular Image of the Black Man in English Drama 1550–1688 also addresses the play, but assumes that all the Moors are black, and that blackness constitutes Otherness. As qtd. in Anthony Bartelemy, Black Face Maligned Race: The Representation of Blacks in English Drama From Shakespeare to Southerne (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987), p. 77. All lines from The Battle of Alcazar from George Peele, The Battle of Alcazar (London: W White, 1599). As qtd. in Barthelemy, 77. Peele, Battle of Alcazar, 4. Smith, Ian. 1998. “Barbarian Errors: Performing Race in Early Modern England.” Shakespeare Quarterly 49 (2): 168–186. Greene translated other Italian works during his life, as evidenced by his 1590 work The Royal Exchange Contayning sundry aphorismes of phylosophie, and golden principles of morrall and naturall quadruplicities. Fyrst written in Italian, and dedicated to the Signorie of Venice. Kirk Melnikoff and Edward Gieskes, eds, Writing Robert Greene: Essays on England’s First Notorious Professional Writer (Burlington: Ashgate, 2008). Kirk Melnikoff, Robert Greene (Burlinton: Ashgate, 2011). Melnikoff and Gieskes, “Recent Studies in Robert Greene (1989–2006),” in Writing Robert Greene, chapter 10. Melnikoff, Robert Greene, 427–428. Paolo Valesio, “The Language of Madness in the Renaissance,” in Yearbook of Italian Studies (Cadmo: Casini Libri, 1971), p. 200. Lodovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, trans. Guido Waldman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), canto 23.132–133. All quotations from Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso are from the 2008 reissue of the 1974 Oxford World Classics Edition edited by Guido Waldman. Canto 24.14. Ibid. Canto 29.59. Canto 14.108. Canto 29. Canto 46. Canto 46.133. Louis Bréhier, “Crusades.” In The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908). Lodovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, trans. Guido Waldman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), 418. Robert Greene, “The History of Orlando Furioso,” in The Dramatic and Poetical Works of Robert Greene and George Peele, ed. Alexander Dyce (London: Routledge, 1861), p. 21. Ibid., 23.

104 “If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much”

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56.

57. 58. 59.

60. 61. 62.

Ibid., 25. Valesio, 200. Ibid., 200. Ibid., 211. Miranda Johson-Haddad, “Englishing Ariosto: Orlando Furioso in the Court of Elizabeth I,” in Comparative Literature Studies (Penn State University Press, 1994), p. 331. Nick Hazlewood, The Queen’s Slave Trader: John Hawkyns, Elizabeth I, and the Trafficking in Human Souls (New York: Harper Collins, 2004), 143. For a full discussion, see Chapter One of this text. Pliny the Elder, A Summarie of the Antiquities, and Wonders of the Worlde (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Oxford University Press and ProQuest CSA, 1566). This text, unfortunately, does not contain page numbers. Kate Lowe, “The Stereotyping of Black Africans in Renaissance Europe.” T.F. Earle and K.J.P. Lowe, eds. Black Africans in Renaissance Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 21. Ibid., 28–29. Greene, Orlando Furioso, 6. Ibid., 10. Ibid., 44. Ibid., 43. Ibid., 3. Andre Parker et al, Nationalisms and Sexualities (New York: Routledge, 1991), p. 5. Ibid., 6. This interpretation of Angelica as black is based on both the text of the play and the racial discourse of Early Modern England. Although at one point Orlando describes Angelica as “milk-white,” he also says this color is “silver’d” or painted on to her. This line also immediately follows a line in which Orlando describes Angelica as “purple-colour’d” (33). In addition, there are numerous sources from Early Modern England that describe blackness as a hereditary infection that was passed from father to child regardless of the color of the mother. For a full discussion, see Things of Darkness, pages 11–13. F.G. Fleay, A Biographical Chronicle of the English Drama, 1559–1642 (London: Reeves and Turner, 1891). Gerald Eades Bentley, The Jacobean and Caroline Stage (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1941). Alfred Harbage and S. Schoenbaum, Annals of English Drama, 975–1700 An Analytical Record of All Plays, Extant or Lost, Chronologically Arranged and Indexed by Authors, Titles, Dramatic Companies (New York: Methuen & Co., 1940). John R. Elliot, Jr. “Mr. Moore’s Revels: A “Lost” Oxford Masque,” Renaissance Quarterly  37, no. 3 (Autumn 1984): 411–420. All citations from the text of Mr. Moore’s Revels come from this edition. Joyce Green MacDonald, ed. Race, Ethnicity, and Power in the Renaissance (Cranburry, NJ: Associated University Press, 1997). Kim F. Hall. “‘Troubling Doubles’: Apes, Africans, and Blackface in Mr. Moore’s Revels.” In Race, Ethnicity, and Power in the Renaissance, edited by Joyce Green MacDonald. (London: Associated University Press, 1997), p. 124.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“If They Were Black, One Would Not Feel It So Much” 105 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70.

71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79.

Elliott, “Mr. Moore’s Revels,” l.33–36. Ibid., 1.67–70. Ibid., l.81–86. Ibid., l.31–32. Ibid., l.33–36. Ibid., l.41–45. Hall, “Troubling Doubles,” p. 136. Sir Thomas Herbert, A relation of some yeares travaile: begunne anno 1626. Into Afrique and the greater Asia, especially the territories of the Persian monarchie: and some parts of the orientall Indies, and iles adiacent. Of their religion, language, habit, discent, ceremonies, and other matters concerning them. Together with the proceedings and death of the three late ambassadours: Sir D.C., Sir R.S. and the Persian Nogdi-Beg: as also the two great monarchs, the King of Persia, and the Great Mogol (London: William Stansby and Iacob Bloome, pp. i–xii, 1–225, i–xv; folio), p. 17. Elliot, Mr. Moore’s Revels, l.75–80. Ibid., l.88–93. Ibid., l.94–99. Peter Fryer, Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (New South Wales Australia: Pluto Press Australia Limited, 1984), p. 31. Ibid., 25. As discussed in Chapter One. Elliot, Mr. Moore’s Revels, l.108–117. Ibid., l.108–111. Kate Lowe, “The Stereotyping of Black Africans in Renaissance Europe,” Black Africans in Renaissance Europe, ed. T. F. Earle (London: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 21.

3

Othello Is a White Man

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

The Subjectivity of the Other in Othello

“There is no consensus over Othello’s race.” This simple phrase is the essential premise of more than 400 years of scholarly exploration into Shakespeare’s, and perhaps Early Modern England’s, most famous aesthetically non-white character. By aesthetically non-white, I am referring to the descriptors in the play that mark Othello as visually different from the other characters. While numerous scholars have weighed in on the race of the eponymous “Moor of Venice,” offering evidence and opinions that allow them to conclude that he is black or Moor, just as many scholars conclude that Othello’s race is intentionally ambiguous. E.A.J. Honigmann, editor of the third Arden edition of Othello, is among the prominent scholars to take this middle path.1 Assuming intentional ambiguity is a safe way to approach (or avoid?) the issue of Othello’s race; it goes around the issue rather than addressing the issue head on. While many scholars who have taken this approach deserve praise for their work in other areas, assuming ambiguity can weaken the discourse of the play by obfuscating any potential racial message in the text and lowering the dramatic stakes, as is the case with Honigmann. Far more interesting implications both for the play and for this project are found in the history of those who have taken a side in the debate, and how they present the stakes for their argument on this play and for notions of race in Early Modern England. To understand the paradigmatic implications of race in Early Modern England as revealed through the works of Shakespeare, our analysis cannot be confined to his two well-known “race plays,” Titus Andronicus and Othello, but must draw evidence from throughout Shakespeare’s canon. While both Aaron and Othello are called “black” by other characters within the text, they are not the only Shakespearean characters to receive this descriptor, yet they are the only two for whom the descriptor is read immediately in relation to their physical bodies. In Henry VI Part 1, Lucy calls Talbot “your kingdom’s nemesis and black terror” (4.7.78). In Richard III, Queen Margaret refers to Richard as “hell’s black intelligencer” (4.4.71). In Two Gentlemen of Verona, both Thurio and Proteus reference Thurio’s dark complexion, with Thurio refuting Proteus’s claim that Julia finds him fair, “Nay then, the wanton lies, my face is black” (5.2.10) and with Proteus rebutting “black men are pearls in beauteous ladies’ eyes” (5.2.12). Yet none

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Othello Is a White Man

107

of these references is read as a marker of the character’s aesthetic blackness. Thurio’s swarthiness is rarely, if ever, the subject of racial critiques. A brief survey of the Shakespearean canon reveals that the character most often referred to as black is neither Aaron nor Othello, but Prince Edward. In the text of Edward III, Henry V, and Henry VI, Part 2, Edward is specifically called black six times, as often as Aaron (twice) and Othello (four times) combined. Macbeth also contains numerous references to the eponymous character being black. The purpose of surveying references to characters being called black is not an attempt to challenge their race; I am in no way saying these characters are not white. Instead, I am questioning the assumptions that go into racial classification of Early Modern English dramatic characters. Hailing someone as black is not enough to consider the character racially black or ontologically black; the context is key. While the references to blackness in Othello are immediately read by scholars as evidence of his racial difference, Macbeth contains numerous references to the eponymous character’s blackness, many of which are in the same context as those used for Othello, yet because of his Scottish nationality, the question of Macbeth’s race has only recently been questioned in scholarship. Looking at these two texts side by side, specifically the title characters, offers a compelling argument that the two characters are ontological equals in spite of references to their blackness. The potential racial implications inherent in Macbeth have only recently received legitimate scrutiny thanks to the collection Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance.2 While the book focuses on the role of Macbeth in American constructions of race through its references to blood and staining, the work in the collection opens the door to reading Macbeth as a race play in the Early Modern period as well. As Celia  R.  Daileader points out in her contribution to Weyward Macbeth,3 the word “black” appears as often in Macbeth as it does in Othello, and “the moniker ‘black Macbeth’ echoes ‘black Othello’” (2.3.28–29).4 She continues on to argue that “the rhetoric of blackness in Macbeth might have eclipsed that of Othello had the former not been so drastically cut.”5 While Othello contains numerous references to his complexion or darkness, the play contains only four instances where he is specifically labeled as “black:” the first by Iago, “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram/ Is tupping your white ewe” (1.1.9–10); second by the Duke of Venice, who actually denies Othello’s blackness stating, “If virtue no delighted beauty lack/ Your son-in-law is far more fair than black” (1.3.22–23); third by Othello himself, “My name, that was as fresh/ As Dian’s visage, is now begrimed and black/ As mine own face” (3.3.54); and fourth by Emilia, “O, the more angel she, and you the blacker devil!” (5.2.36). If we take a moment to analyze these lines, they reveal that blackness is used just as often in relation to moral character as aesthetic difference. The Duke of Venice’s line actually speaks to Othello’s fairness rather than his blackness. Emilia’s line can be

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

108

Othello Is a White Man

couched in the terms of the moral blackness of the murder Othello commits more than a reference to an aesthetic difference. Macbeth contains two lines that reference the title character’s blackness: one by Macbeth himself, “Let not light see my black and deep desires” (1.4.51); and the second by Malcolm, “It is myself I mean, in whom I know/ All the particulars of vice so grafted/ That when they shall be opened black Macbeth/ will seem as pure as snow” (4.3.51–54). Similar to the references to Othello’s blackness, Macbeth’s blackness is presented as a moral judgment on the deeds he has committed. Based strictly on the characters’ relationship to the language of blackness, as opposed to an assumed aesthetic difference, the texts open the possibility that one is as black as the other. The other two lines, those spoken by Iago and Othello, require a bit more unpacking to address the ways in which their use of black in reference to Othello does not indicate an ontological difference between the titular character and his Venetian counterparts, but rather only an aesthetic one. When Iago calls Othello an “old black ram” (1.1.10), the line is spoken in an attempt to vilify Othello in the eyes of Desdemona’s father, Brabantio. The use of “black” in this instance, while possibly referring to Othello’s skin tone, could also be deployed strictly as an antithesis to Desdemona’s purity. In this instance, the reference to Othello being black also functions as a moral designation: his actions are operating counter to the whiteness of purity that is Desdemona. Othello’s line is a reference to both his moral character and complexion in the same way as Iago’s. He places himself as the antithesis to Dian, both in deed and in aesthetics. With arguments for textual references to Othello being black problematized as an indicator of his race, scholars have turned to other discourses to address the race question. Interestingly, scholars have favored geography rather than ontology as the battlefield to dispute Othello’s race. Since the 1600s, scholars have debated Othello’s blackness indirectly by arguing over whether he is North African or sub-Saharan African. Virginia Mason Vaughan cites arguments dating back to 1604, shortly after the play’s premiere, that conclude the that the racial stereotypes uttered in the text, including Othello calling himself “black” and Roderigo’s description of his “thick lips” both indicate his sub-Saharan origin.6 Beginning in 1814, however, arguments for Othello’s North African origin begin. Edmund Kean’s 1814 production is considered to be the theatrical and scholarly introduction of a North African Othello. Kean argued that Shakespeare based the character of Othello on Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud ben Mohammed Anoun, the Moorish ambassador of the Arab King of Barbary to Queen Elizabeth I, who spent numerous months in the company of the Queen’s court beginning in 1600.7 With strong evidence from both sides, productions have presented the character both ways. While a North African Othello was the vogue in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, more modern productions have tended toward a sub-Saharan Othello, often to make a political statement. The numerous

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Othello Is a White Man

109

references to Othello being “black” are often misinterpreted in modern times to mean that he is to be presented as a sub-Saharan African, but a quick reminder of the unstable linguistic identifiers of the Elizabethan era problematize the use of textual references to “blackness” as referring purely to his skin color and geographic origins. Two recent salvos into the geography wars have been fired from opposite sides by two scholars whom I personally hold in very high esteem: Emily Bartels, who argues that while the term “Moor” is ambiguous, it still establishes Othello as North African; and Virginia Mason Vaughan, who argues for a sub-Saharan Othello. Bartels’s 1990 article “Making More of the Moor: Aaron, Othello, and Renaissance Refashionings of Race” argues that the Early Modern English “racialist ideology” reflected the country’s imperialist aims, and that discourse of racial difference was constructed just as much along lines of national borders as of aesthetic difference, and in both cases was about establishing borders around notions of an English identity (433–434).8 Bartels bases her case for Othello’s Moorishness on the ambiguity of his status, arguing that “while blackness and Mohammedism were stereotyped as evil, Renaissance representations of the Moor were vague, varied, inconsistent, and contradictory.”9 She concludes that the anxiety over Othello’s race is not over his differences from, but rather his similarities to, the English, his status as an “insider” rather than an “outsider.”10 Vaughan, however, takes the opposite track in her analysis of Othello’s origins, arguing for black African rather than North African roots. She argues that, “The effect of Othello depends…on the essential fact of the hero’s darkness, the visual signifier of his Otherness. To Shakespeare’s original audience, this chromatic sign was probably dark black.”11 She then argues that Roderigo’s description of Othello’s “thick lips” derives from Early Modern travel journals’ description of black Africans. She cites Winthrop Jordan’s White Over Black to explain why the black Othello is referred to as a Moor, citing, “blackness became so generally associated with Africa that every African seemed a black man[,]…the terms Moor and Negro used interchangeably.”12 While the evidence supporting her claims can be substantial, her argument loses steam when, even though she simultaneously recognizes the difference between the two types of beings, she falls into the trap of conflating Moorishness and blackness, arguing that “whether he appears a tawny Moor or as a black man of African descent, Othello bears the visual signs of Otherness, a difference that the play’s language insists can never be eradicated.”13 While Vaughan does acknowledge a difference between Moors and blacks by arguing that Othello is black African, she places the two groups on equal ontological ground as beings that are visually different from the English, but equally irreconcilable with English notions of subjectivity. The purpose of this project is not to debate the geographical origins of Othello, but rather to interrogate the discourse at play in the debate and determine why this debate has continued for almost 400 years. The stakes of

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

110

Othello Is a White Man

determining the geographic origin of Othello seem unimportant; why does it matter if he is from North Africa or sub-Saharan Africa? While the debate is often addressed through matters of geographical origin, if we look beyond the language of geography to what is at play beneath the surface, we can see how geography is a way to address subjectivity, matters of structural positioning, and the humanity of blacks. Proving that Othello is of sub-Saharan African origin is important for the stability of the modern white liberal psyche; presenting the possibility of black incorporation into humanity within the paradigm of modernity would challenge the paradigmatic antagonism between black and non-black, allowing the subject to disregard the racial history of America and the world and to perpetuate the myth of a “postrace” society. Discussing the geographical origin of Othello is a way for the modern psyche to avoid addressing the more pertinent discussion of the structural position of blackness. Repositioning the argument away from the language of geography and onto what the geography signifies makes the debate not about Othello’s origin, but about Othello’s subjectivity: the argument for a sub-Saharan origin positions Othello as an avatar for the possibility of a black humanity that exists within the paradigm of modernity while the argument for a North African origin maintains the prospects for a modernity constructed along a black/non-black binary. So then, his geographical origin must be read out from his capacity for subjectivity; within the paradigm of modernity, the sub-Saharan black African does not have this capacity, and thus if the narrative positions Othello as a subject, then he must be of North African origin, and although he may be aesthetically different, cannot be read as a black character.

“Whitening” the Moor To appropriately address notions of race that appear in Othello requires reading beyond the text as presented on the page to analyze the discourse of the text not only in the historical moment, but in regard to the paradigm of modernity that was solidified in the Early Modern period and continues to define existence today. Scholars, directors, and actors have perpetuated the common misconception that Othello is black based on a few references in the text to his complexion. Four times in the text, characters refer to him as black; each of these references, however, is easily read as a nod to the aesthetic difference between Othello and the Venetians rather than to an ontological rift between them. While the purely aesthetic difference of Othello cannot be dismissed as meaningless, its roots can be located in religious discourse rather than discourse on subjectivity. The historical evidence clearly points to the significance of a white/black binary in the construction of English religion and identity. Joseph R. Washington has compiled a brilliant history of how “English (and later American) culture, religion, and people have crystallized their religion of antiblackness (which I define as the opposition to all evil or

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Othello Is a White Man

111

as the affirmation of pure goodness) as anti-blackness (the refusal to respect, accept and affirm blacks as people.”14 He traces the roots of anti-black racism back to Old Testament tales and analyzes its evolution through various religious movements. In the story of Noah and the Ark, Ham witnesses his father’s nakedness, and his punishment varies based on the interpretation. In one Jewish interpretation, God punishes Ham by cursing Ham’s progeny with dark skin and making them slaves. In another, Ham himself is turned black upon exiting the ark. In both cases, blackness is directly linked to sexual transgression; Ham is turned black for seeing his father naked, thus suggesting an origin for the correlation of blackness with sexuality. Washington argues that In Ham there is the reemergence of evil incarnate which the snake in the Garden of Eden represented…the people of Israel were at all costs to be protected from this ‘unclean spirit’…who is black because he is sexual at the core rather than human and therefore evil.15 The Early Modern English belief in blackness as the Curse of Ham continued the myriad associations of blackness with evil and sin that resonate throughout Christianity.16 Virginia Mason Vaughan argues that “Religious doctrine, conveyed to the illiterate in countless paintings during the middle ages, was the bedrock of much medieval art” and “although depictions of the devil were not common, when he did appear, his status ‘outside the pale’ of Christianity was usually signified by a black complexion.”17 She reveals that medieval art not only depicted the devil as black, but also communicated the abject status of blackness by linking it to evil and placing it “outside” of Christian society. These early medieval depictions of black devils solidified the connection between blackness and evil; and anything associated with evil, and thus un-Christian, ways came to be referred to as black, such as sin, witches, demons, and eventually, Muslims and Moors. All of these references and depictions of blackness enabled the creation of what Frantz Fanon dubs the “black imago,” the fantasmic image of negating blackness that exists in representations of black men, in the Early Modern English subconscious.18 The Early Modern English, however, had not encountered the sub-Saharan black body in England before 1501, so the psychic anxiety associated with blackness that was cultivated through religion became associated with Moors, who while darker-skinned than the English, were not black. Notions of Othello’s blackness are tied up in this perception of Moors as visibly dark, but not ontologically black. The capacity to locate the origin of Othello’s blackness works contrary to notions of a priori blackness, positioning his blackness as an aesthetic and experiential marker of identity rather than a marker of ontology. With this in mind, I offer a reading of Othello that is grounded in modern theories of anti-blackness, one that challenges prior scholarly conceptions of the text by shifting Othello’s race at a structural level from that of an

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

112

Othello Is a White Man

Other to that of a recognized and incorporated member of civil society in relation to the constituent elements of Slavery that define the black structural position; in short, I will demonstrate that within the paradigm of both Early Modern England and Modern America, a black Othello is an impossibility. In other words, I wish to explore the possibility that the conflict of Othello is not predicated on his absolute alterity, but rather the conflict relies on the fact of his absolute inclusion in civil society.19 If we read the references to Othello’s blackness with the paradigmatic implications of his potential blackness in mind, the religious context in which other characters refer to Othello’s blackness becomes clear. The first character to associate Othello with blackness is the senator in act 1, scene 3, and he actually describes Othello as the antithesis of black. The senator’s remark “your son-in-law is more fair than black” (1.3.291) is made on the basis of the moral antagonism of white and black. The senator, in the previous line, associates fairness with virtue, and thus blackness with a lack of virtue, or sin. While he potentially references also Othello’s appearance, in his view, moral “fairness” overrides surface aesthetics. The next mention of Othello as black comes from the Moor himself, “Her name, that was as fresh/ as Dian’s visage, is now begrimed and black/ as mine own face” (3.3.385–387). Again, the text references blackness in relation to a lack of virtue.20 Othello simultaneously offers two comparisons of his black face: one against Desdemona’s name and one against the goddess Diana. The comparison with Desdemona’s name, which has been “blackened” by Othello’s belief that she has sullied her virtue, associates blackness with sin and infidelity. The comparison of his visage with Diana’s is a comparison of his blackness with whiteness and purity, a trait with which the Romans associated the goddess Diana, again referencing the white/black provisional antagonism between moral and immoral. His blackness is again both moral and aesthetic, but while the line confirms his aesthetic blackness, it works to refute his ontological blackness. By hailing himself as black instead of being hailed as black by civil society, it is Othello that constructs his identity as an outsider, not those that exist within the Venetian community. The capacity to label and identity oneself and have that identity recognized is the prerogative of the subject, not the abject. His commenting on his own blackness absent the a priori designation of blackness works to separate the aesthetic from the ontological, and allows Othello to exist as a dark-skinned subject as opposed to a black abject. The final reference to Othello’s “blackness” is made by Emilia shortly after Othello murders Desdemona. After Othello confesses to the murder, Emilia responds “O, the more angel she/ And you the blacker devil” (5.2.135–136), a direct association of blackness with evil and sin, not with social death. In fact, Iago is the only character to refer to Othello as black without an immediately coherent religious association between blackness and sin. These references to Othello’s blackness operate on the level of moral or religious judgments rather than the ontology of Slavery and social death; they meditate on Othello’s identity not his subjectivity.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Othello Is a White Man

113

Tracking the differences between the uses of “Muslim” and “Moor” in Early Modern England is a nearly impossible feat. Originally, the term “Moor” was used exclusively for the Berber people. Over time, the term came to describe the Muslim population originating from the Iberian Peninsula, and later West Africans. Because of this continually expanding and obfuscating application of “Moor,” the term “Moor” has no real ethnological value; however, Shakespeare uses it specifically to define Othello, which implies differences in complexion, religion, and nationality. The attitude, if not the terminology, that equated Moors with blackness was still in flux at this time, and the other characters’ envisioning Othello’s blackness through the lens of religious difference grants Othello a double recognition; he is recognized as different aesthetically and religiously, and even though both of these differences set him apart from the normative white Christian, they simultaneously, if implicitly, acknowledge the capacity to relate to the normative subject as a human from another culture. Since the references to Othello’s blackness exist in relation to the white/ black (Christian/non-Christian, in this case Muslim) premodern, provisional antagonism and work to position him as an outsider in that way, it must now be made clear how, in spite of his differences, Othello is a recognized and incorporated member of civil society. In the text of the play, Othello positions himself as a human through two means: (1) by describing his slavery as an experience from which he can be rescued and not an a priori condition of being and (2) by defining himself in opposition to the black imago. In act 3, scene 1, Shakespeare establishes Othello’s place in civil society through one of his most famous monologues when Othello explains: I ran it through, even from my boyish days To th’ very moment that she bade me tell it, Wherein I spoke of disastrous chances, Of moving accidents by flood and field, Of hairbreadth scapes i’ th’ imminent deadly breach, Of being taken by the insolent foe And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence, And portance in my travels’ history, Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle, Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven, It was my hint to speak—such was my process— And of the Cannibals that each other eat, The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads Do grow beneath their shoulders. These things to hear Would Desdemona seriously incline; (Othello 1.3.133–147)

135

140

145

These fifteen lines may be the most important in the play in terms of ontological meditations. On the surface, they describe how Othello came to woo Desdemona; but on a more abstract level, they position Othello as a

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

114

Othello Is a White Man

non-black subject and challenge the notion of race as the primary source of conflict. In lines 138 and 139, Othello speaks of being a slave, but his slavery is a temporary experience and not a paradigmatic position. He signals his capacity for exploitation and alienation; he is removed from his homeland and commodified in the same way as the worker; his body and labor are exploited, but they remain his, which is a privilege reserved for subjects. His grammar of suffering clearly aligns with that of the Marxist subject that Frank Wilderson argues is one of exploitation and alienation, and not that of the abject, whose suffering is defined by a grammar of accumulation and fungibility. Later in the passage, Othello defines his being in relation to one Early Modern manifestation of the black imago. Numerous Early Modern publications ranging from contemporary travel journals to translations of ancient texts present various descriptions of the creatures that inhabit sub-Saharan Africa. Perhaps the most recognized of these comes from the Elder Pliny’s work A Summary of the Antiquities and Wonders of the World, first published in English in 1566, which chronicles the extraordinary types of people to inhabit the interior of Africa. According to Pliny: Of the Ethiopians there are divers forms and kinds of men. Some there are toward the east that have neither nose nor nostrils, but the face all full. Others that have no upper lip, they are without tongues, and they speak by signs, and they have but a little hole to take their breath, by which they drink with an oaten straw. There are some called Syrbote that are 8 foot high, they live with the chase of elephants. In a part of Affricke people called Ptoemphane, for the team they have a dog, at whose fancy they are governed. Toward the west there is a people called Arimaspi, that hath but one eye in their foreheads, they are in the desert and wild country … The descriptions continue to include cannibals, people who walk on their hands, and people with no heads whose faces are on their chests. Othello describes his understanding of the inhuman abject in Plinian terms in lines 144–146, as deformed cannibals, monsters that are inhuman and uncivil. He harbors the same anxiety over the abject creatures as all members of civil society; his fears, however, are not subconscious, but have been played out through an actual encounter. Othello has personally encountered the inhuman creatures that inhabit the interior of Africa, where Pliny locates his monsters, and in that moment, Othello recognized and defined his subjectivity through a negation of the inhuman monster: I am not that, therefore I am. Like all members of civil society, Othello does not have to define what he is as a subject, he just has to define what he is not, and in this case, he is not the Plinian, monstrous black abject. Othello clearly believes that he is a recognized and incorporated member of civil society, and his belief is solidified through his capacity for relationality

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Othello Is a White Man

115

with the other characters. In the play, notions of relationality exist not only in the corporeal world through the filial relationships between characters, but also in the metaphysical world through the capacity to relate through a network of shared semiotics, both of which merit further theoretical exploration, beginning with the corporeal world before moving into the abstract. In the text, Othello’s filial relationships and the capacity for property ownership inherent in filial relationships, as well as other property rights, are recognized by the members of civil society. No moment in the text offers evidence that more solidifies Othello’s standing as a relational being than the judicial proceedings concerning his relationship with Desdemona that occur in act 1, scene 3. The sheer fact of a trial confirms Othello’s subject standing in that it refutes Fanon’s argument that “the black man has no ontological resistance in the eyes of the white man.”21 That Othello is given a trial at all in what Iago views as a case of miscegenation is a form of ontological resistance; through legal proceedings, Othello is able to challenge Iago’s concept of miscegenation based on aesthetic difference by offering an ontological argument that removes the capacity for miscegenation on grounds of shared humanity. He has the capacity to function as his own witness in the trial, displaying an innate capacity for interlocution that is available only between subjects. In this case, not only is Othello granted a chance to have his story heard, but his story convinces the court to rule in his favor. Society’s final word on Othello’s subjectivity is given by the Duke, who, as mentioned previously, states to Brabantio “Your son-in-law is far more fair than black” (1.3.291). In the text, Othello has access to both a discourse and a justice system unavailable to the Slave. In spite of his appearance, he is a recognized interlocutor in civil society and has the ability to engage the structure on its terms; in other words, although Othello may be “black” physically, before he even enters the court, he is already white ontologically. Reading Othello’s relationship with Desdemona through Fanon further asserts his subjectivity. In Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon analyzes the mating of the black man with the white woman through a reading of a novel by René Maran. Fanon argues, “We know historically that the Negro guilty of lying with a white woman is castrated. The Negro who has had a white woman makes himself taboo to his fellows.”22 Neither of these is the case for Othello; in fact, it is quite the opposite. Othello is not castrated for his actions, but rather he is commended by the senate and given free and continued access to white love, his love. Also, rather than causing Othello to be ostracized, his relationship with a white woman rather becomes a source of communal bonding. While the black may seek to access filial relations through mating with a white woman, Afro-Pessimism has shown this to be an impossibility. Access to civil society cannot be granted by pairing with a white woman. Othello’s coupling with Desdemona does not grant him access to civil society, but rather is accomplished by his position already within civil society. Othello’s relationship to Desdemona also establishes his position as an owner in property relations. In Slavery and Social Death, Patterson reveals

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

116

Othello Is a White Man

the fallacies in assuming that the status of the Slave depends on his or her existence as property, but rather it depends on the inability to have any claims to property.23 He argues that a “husband is part the property of his wife… [and] husbands have proprietary claims and powers in their wives.”24 This dynamic is at play in the relationship of Othello and Desdemona. Brabantio challenges Othello’s claim to Desdemona by making his own claim of her possession and invoking ideas of witchcraft and magic: “She is abused, stol’n from me, and corrupted/ By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks” (1.3.62–63) and: I therefore vouch again That some mixtures powerful o’er the blood, Or with some dram conjured to this effect, He wrought upon her. (Othello 1.3.105–108) Brabantio attempts to blacken Othello at this moment on the grounds of his aesthetic appearance; Brabantion attempts to make Othello’s dark-skin read as blackness. He relates Othello’s blackness back to representations of sin and witchcraft as black, thus calling for a blackness based on experience and not ontology. Shakespeare has this association dismissed in the court not only of law but of public opinion, when the senate rules to acknowledge Othello’s claim to Desdemona over that of Brabantio. If Othello were ontologically black, not only would his claim to Desdemona be trumped by her father’s, but his claim would never have been recognized or able to challenge Brabantio’s claim in the first instance due to the black’s incapacity for ontological resistance. The governmental authority in the play recognizes Othello’s right to property and views him as part of civil society and not as the abject. Not only is Othello’s marriage to Desdemona a recognized human relation, but the significance placed on the handkerchief grants recognition to his historical filial relations and bestows upon him the provenance of heritage. Carol Rutter argues that “Almost nothing happens in Othello. Cassio gets drunk, a brawl breaks out, Desdemona drops her handkerchief, Emilia hands it to her husband. For the rest, the play is constructed out of narratives…”25 Rutter then places Iago as the controller of discourse, the crafter of stories, and she uses the handkerchief as evidence of Iago’s narrative power. She claims that he is the one that imbues the handkerchief with power through the story he crafts around it as proof of Desdemona’s infidelity. When explaining the origin of the handkerchief to Desdemona, Othello states that it is the handkerchief’s connection to his mother that makes it significant: That is a fault. That handkerchief Did an Egyptian to my mother give; She was a charmer, and could almost read

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Othello Is a White Man

117

The thoughts of people: she told her, while she kept it, 'Twould make her amiable and subdue my father Entirely to her love, but if she lost it Or made gift of it, my father’s eye Should hold her loathed and his spirits should hunt After new fancies: she, dying, gave it me; And bid me, when my fate would have me wive, To give it her. I did so: and take heed on’t; Make it a darling like your precious eye; To lose’t or give’t away were such perdition As nothing else could match. (Othello 3.4.52–65) While Iago does craft the narrative that leads to Othello’s downfall around the handkerchief, his tale is not the only narrative to imbue the handkerchief with meaning. Desdemona’s recognition of Othello’s heritage and filial relation, that he is his mother’s son, gives Othello a level of narrative discourse that makes him an interlocutor in civil society; he has the power to assign significance to objects and referents. Rather than Iago’s narrative leading to Othello’s downfall, Othello is the origin of his own downfall through assigning value to the handkerchief based on a recognized filial relation. All of the aforementioned evidence for Othello’s subjectivity is made possible by his capacity to relate to the other characters through the semiotic system that is defined and accepted by civil society. Within the narrative of the play, Shakespeare makes Othello a participant within the network of semiotic reciprocation that defines civil society. The question then becomes, why does Othello’s participation in semiotic reciprocation prove his subjectivity while similar actions when performed by Aaron prove his abjection? The answer lies in the consequences of this participation for civil society. As I will discuss in the final chapter, when Aaron is allowed to participate in semiotic reciprocation, civil society and the rules that define civility implode, causing a collapse of structures of both filiation and affiliation. His status as an abject cannot be reconciled with a position in civil society, so neither notions of abjection nor subjectivity remain intact. The same does not occur in Othello. Othello’s participation in civil discourse has no effect on the structure of civil society; while his actions eventually lead to the death of himself and his betrothed, throughout the play the structures of law, order, family, and society remain firmly intact. Othello’s incorporation into civil society has no effect on the paradigmatic structure because his incorporation does not violate the foundational black/non-black antagonism. Based on the evidence of structural antagonisms contained within the canon of Shakespeare and other Early Modern dramatists, Othello is and always has been a subject, a structural status that precedes and refutes any possibilities of Othello’s ontological blackness, despite his darker complexion. In addition to Othello’s capacity for reciprocation within the play, using Orlando Patterson as a lens offers further evidence for Othello’s subjectivity

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

118

Othello Is a White Man

through his relationship to violence. In Slavery and Social Death, Orlando Patterson defines the ontology of the Slave as subject to gratuitous violence prior to an act of transgression.26 Othello’s relationship to violence refutes this constituent element of Slavery and further solidifies his subject status. While Othello is never the recipient of violent affronts, in two instances, he acts as the perpetrator of violence and not the recipient. The first occurs in act 1, scene 3, the same trial scene discussed previously. The scene begins with a report that the Ottomites, the “general enemy” (1.3.51), are making military advancement toward the isle of Cyprus. Despite the fact that Othello is a Moor and probably closer in appearance to the Ottomites, he is deployed as the instrument of state sanctioned violence against them. In this instance, not only is Othello positioned as a subject, but war with the Ottomites establishes the subjectivity of multitudes of darker-skinned peoples. The Ottomites were the closest Islamic state to England in Shakespeare’s time, and even though Muslims were demonized in Medieval and to some extent in Early Modern England, Othello recognizes the Ottomites’ humanity. This scene does a double move politically. By presenting the Ottomites as adversaries in war, the text assumes the Ottomites’ capacity to hold a political position opposite the English. The recognition of political differences is also an implicit recognition of the adverse positions’ subjectivity; a differing political view is still a recognized point of view. Having Othello lead the Italian forces against the Ottomites is a demonstration not only of Othello’s independent capacity for political recognition, but also a signal that all Muslims have the same capacity, thus positioning the Muslim community at-large as subjects. While the play contains only one example of conversion from Muslim/Moor to Christian/European, the capacity for conversion establishes both the pre- and postconversion identities as human identities. In other words, conversion is possible across lines of identity, but not across lines of subjectivity/abjection. Through this incorporation of Othello, Shakespeare also makes clear that the perceived antagonism with the Muslim Other is nothing more than a religious conflict, a battle over arguable differences, not irreconcilable paradigmatic positioning. So while it allows for the potential of full incorporation for the Muslim Other, the text maintains their status as below that of the English, as a denigrated subject existing on the outskirts of civil society, but still within the paradigm. The incorporation of Othello, and through him the Muslims at large, as a civil subject through his position as an administrator of structural violence rather than a victim essentially “whitens” the Other, shifting the crux of the play away from race and onto religious and national differences. The other major act of violence Othello commits is his murder of the white Desdemona. This act is more significant to Othello’s status as a subject in the Venetian paradigm of the play. After the murder, Emilia refers to Othello as “the blacker devil” (5.2.136), and Camille Slights argues that “the terrible truth that Desdemona is chaste and dead means that Othello is damned, a cursed slave” (389).27 Her argument that Desdemona’s murder renders

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Othello Is a White Man

119

Othello a Slave in the Pattersonian sense, that it makes him socially outcast and dead to society, is correct; however, we must look at the entirety of the close of the play to put this Slavery this conditional blackness, into context. Othello is not the only character who experiences a social death based on his actions. In act 5, scene 2, after Iago kills his wife, Emilia, Montano calls him “damned slave” (5.2.249), signaling that Iago’s actions have severed him from society. The shifting of two characters into the Slave position has implications for the structural position of Othello; instead of dividing Iago and Othello as subject and abject, the experience of becoming socially dead positions both Iago and Othello on the same side of the antagonism, as subjects who can experience social death and not as abject Slaves for whom social death is an ontological condition. The social death of both Othello and Iago is not a condition of being a priori, but rather one that is contingent upon the same act of violence, the murder of their respective wives and severing of a relation through death, an act they both knowingly and consciously commit. If Othello were structurally black in opposition to Iago, his relationality and position inside of civil society would be absent from the start and not lost through his actions; murdering Desdemona would not have turned him into Slave because he would have already been one. Before committing murder, both characters possess the capacity to belong to Venetian society, and with the murders, both have it removed. Both characters have the same relationship to structural violence in the play; neither is subject to gratuitous violence before an act of transgression, but rather both are subject to violence because of an act of transgression. The abject exist absent the capacity for recognition, and therefore cannot gain or lose subjectivity. The play reveals that both Iago and Othello occupy the same subject position by making social death a punishment for both the white Venetian and his Moorish Other. Iago and Othello possess similar relationships to violence in that they are both able to function as perpetrators and as victims, and in both cases, the consequence of their actions is exile from civil society. The two exist on equal ontological ground; both Othello and Iago contain the subject’s capacity for loss, making it impossible for Othello to be black without Iago being black as well.

The Villainous I(m)ago The text labors to include Othello in civil society through his capacity for both semiotic and filial relationality, but it also labors to exclude him at the level of experience; he is paradigmatically a subject while being nationally and religiously Other. The play attempts to present two sides to Othello, as a character who is both included and excluded, both the same and different. In the end, it accomplishes this goal, but at the same time confirms that both of Othello’s possible sides are on the same coin as all of the other characters, the coin of humanity. Othello’s differences, specifically his aesthetic difference, are not structural, but rather superficial, thus making the notion of the play

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

120

Othello Is a White Man

revolving around a racial conflict superficial as well. Repositioning notions of race away from the aesthetic and onto the structural, as I have argued, problematizes the notion of Othello being a play about race. For Othello to be a race play, we cannot simply lean on the fact of Othello’s aesthetic difference as a crutch, but rather must read further into the play and address the historical and dramatic factors that allow this play to resonate with structural rather than experiential notions of race; we must look at the psychological implications of Othello’s position as a subject for the other characters, specifically the play’s villain, Iago. To get at the crux of the racial notions portrayed in Othello requires reading not the external conflict between a “black” man and a white society, but rather the internal conflict of Iago’s psychological inability to accept the Moorish Othello as a man who is, in fact, his structural equal. In spite of Othello’s structural position as a member of civil society, Iago cannot come to terms psychologically with this reconciliation. While other characters recognize Othello’s humanity despite his differences, Iago maintains an association between Othello and the inhuman abject based on religious and aesthetic differences, laboring to force Othello into an anachronistic perception of the dark-skinned Moor as an abject to the English, the black to the English’s white. While contemporary consensus is that Iago is the villain of the play, I posit that the true villain of the play is the black imago. Iago is unable to cope with the shifting of the black imago from a being whose blackness is not ontological but determined by experience, the dark-skinned Moor, onto a being whose blackness is ontological and a priori, the recently encountered sub-Saharan African black body, making the anxiety over the occupant of the Slave position the crux of the conflict. As I mentioned earlier, Iago is the only character to call Othello black without its being in relation to the religious binary of good/evil, virtue/sin. In act 2, scene 3, Iago, innocently enough, says “Well, happiness to their sheets! Come Lieutenant, I have a stoup of wine, and here without are a brace of Cyprus gallants that would fain have a measure to the health of black Othello” (2.3.24–27). While in the grand scheme of the play, this can be read as just another reference to Othello’s aesthetic blackness. I argue, however, that when read in the context of the historical religious binary of white and black, an association that Iago fails to make in this instance, Iago’s hailing of Othello as black is also hailing himself as black, a reference to the black imago. Iago calls Othello black because, to Iago, Othello is black. Iago is the only character in the play who resists the paradigmatic notions of race that accompanied the English’s encounter with the black body. He is not persuaded by Othello’s narrative that a new, yet to be seen and experienced form of abject, monstrous blackness exists. While other characters accept Othello’s description of Anthropophagi and other Plinian monsters, Iago is the one character in the play that cannot come to grips with this account and its implications. Thus, the conflict of the play lies not in Iago’s conflict with his supposed racial Other Othello, but rather in his inability to see Othello’s racial difference as other than paradigmatic.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Othello Is a White Man

121

Iago’s repeated attempts to blacken Othello in spite of his recognition and incorporation by others point to the necessity for Iago to have a true abject for the definition of his subjectivity and his psychological stability. While other characters define Othello’s blackness in relation to the religious ideal white, thus equating his blackness with sin rather than abjection, Iago defines Othello’s blackness in relation to nothing in particular; his adamant stance on Othello’s blackness is one of bad faith. By not giving a reference point for Othello’s blackness, Iago attempts to delimit the contingencies and remove the provisional nature of Othello’s blackness; instead of positioning him as black based on skin tone or religious doctrines, Iago positions Othello as black, a negation without origin or reference, as paradigmatically, a priori black. While others associate Othello’s blackness with experiences, Iago is the only character who is unable to separate the black imago from the Moorish body that Iago has made the locus for abject blackness. Iago’s actions, therefore, are not acts of transgression against a racial Other but rather acts of violence against the paradigm; Iago attempts to maintain and recreate a racial Other in Othello—to reestablish the Moorish Othello as black so that Iago’s own notions of the paradigm and psyche remain intact. If Iago can maintain the blackness of the Moor, then his notions of subjectivity can remain stable within a paradigm in flux. Rutter is right in arguing that narrative control is important in constructing subjectivity, but she places the control in the wrong hands; Iago does not create his subjectivity through narrative control, but rather Othello uses narrative control to force Iago to challenge his own construction of subjectivity. Regardless of Iago’s position and actions, Othello’s narratives of the Plinian monstrous abject and the structural importance of the handkerchief as a symbol of filiation are what controls notions of subjectivity in the text. We now can see that the play shows Iago trying to blacken Othello to stabilize his notions of subjectivity, which he does when he successfully drives Othello to commit murder against the innocent Desdemona. Othello’s blackening, however, does not have the desired effect for Iago, and actually is the final straw in destroying Iago’s psyche. Although Othello does become removed from society in the end, he is not blackened by Iago. Othello’s subjectivity is confirmed by the fact that he is blackened by his own actions, confirming Iago’s worst fears—that the Moor was and is a recognized and incorporated member of civil society. With the Moor as subject, Othello’s narrative of abject blackness becomes the reference point for the subject. Iago cannot cope with this because his experiential notions of black abjection, one that is located in the Moorish body, clash with the paradigmatic alignment of the non-black/black antagonism. Othello takes control over the semiotic discourse of abjection through his narratives of the inhuman figures encountered on his voyages and trumps Iago’s attempts to maintain notions of Moorish abjection. Othello’s subjectivity is confirmed through his blackening, forcing Iago, who realizes he has not experienced abject blackness, to confront the black imago absent of a body. Othello’s  blackening

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

122

Othello Is a White Man

contorts Iago’s perception of blackness; instead of embracing it as a tool for the stabilization of the white psyche, he is forced to confront it as the enemy—a manifestation of all the fears—of the white psyche. Othello becoming black makes Iago realize that he was not black before, and Iago is forced to confront that he has no one against whom to define his own subjectivity. In the end, Iago’s subjectivity is confirmed—like Othello’s—by his capacity to lose it. Thus, he mimics Othello’s actions and kills his wife, Emilia, committing an act of violence that severs filiation and causes Iago to be hailed as a “slave.” Without the abject black as a reference point, the only way Iago can confirm his incorporation into civil society is to lose it. The loss of subjectivity confirms the presence of subjectivity. The congruity in Iago’s and Othello’s relationship to violence, control of discourse and narrative, and subjection to the constituent elements of Slavery, in spite of references to Othello’s complexion, place both characters in the subject position of civil society. The concept of Othello as black, as a Slave, or outcast in the Venetian paradigm of the play, is a misconception brought about by superficial examinations of the text that address neither the paradigm of the play nor the paradigm of the world in which it was written. Casting Othello as a black man requires reading modern sensibilities concerning race into an early seventeenth-century text. Shakespeare uses Othello to address the anxiety associated with the challenging of English subjectivity brought about by the burgeoning black population of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in England. Othello, then, is a text about an attempt to manifest notions of blackness that are absent an encounter or understanding of true blackness. It internalizes into the character of Iago the dilemma over constructions of disparate identities shifting into their proper paradigmatic positions; his anxiety over the Moor’s advancement and incorporation reflects the feelings in society at large. Much as in the Medieval period where anxieties over the specter of black abjection were worked out in liturgical drama with black devils and white angels, Shakespeare is working out the anxiety over the still undefinable black body, true abject blackness, on the stage by referencing blackness without presenting it. He gives us a character marked as Other Othello, who exists in the same opposition to abject blackness as the members of English civil society. Shakespeare’s text challenged the contemporary notions of subjectivity and identity based on religious anti-blackness by having the Moor also define himself as the antagonist of blackness, thus positioning him as a subject in civil society. Contrary to popular scholarship and most contemporary productions, Othello is not a play about the black man trying to find a place in Venetian society, about an outsider trying to become an insider—because Othello is already an insider in civil society. Othello is a play that, through presenting a Moorish subject, reveals that the separation between the aesthetic and the ontological, which continues to define racial difference at a structural level in the paradigm of modernity, existed in a nascent form in Early Modern

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Othello Is a White Man

123

England, although the subject’s psyche was still coming to grips with notions of embodied abjection. Analyzing the racial implications of the text based on the obvious superficial difference between Othello’s complexion and the complexion of the other characters reflects the boundaries of identity found within humanity that define the subject and its Other. Only after we look past the aesthetic and focus on the characters’ capacity for relationality that exists both experientially through filial relations and ontologically through semiotic reciprocation can we begin to unravel the mechanisms that divide the subject from the abject. In the end, Othello’s color is not a sign of ontological difference, but rather reveals the anxiety over the Moor’s status as ontologically equal to the English.

Notes 1. EAJ Honigmann, ed., Othello. The Arden Shakespeare (London: Thomson Learning, 1999). 2. Scott L. Newstock and Ayanna Thompson, eds., Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). 3. Celia R. Daileader, “Weird Brothers: What Thomas Middleton’s The Witch Can Tell Us About Race, Sex, and Gender in Macbeth,” In Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). 4. Ibid., 17. 5. Ibid. 6. Virginia Mason Vaughan, Othello: A Contextual History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 51–52. 7. Michael Neill, Putting History to the Question: Power, Politics, and Society in English Renaissance Drama (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), pp. 45–47. 8. Emily C. Bartels, “Making More of the Moor: Aaron, Othello, and Renaissance Refashionings of Race,” Shakespeare Quarterly, 41, no. 4 (Winter 1990): 433–454. 9. Ibid. 10. Ibid., 435. 11. Vaughan, Contextual History, 51. 12. As qtd. in Vaughan, Contextual History, 52. 13. Ibid. 14. Joseph R. Washington, Anti-Blackness in English Religion 1500–1800 (New York: Edwin Mellon Press, 1984), p. xii. 15. Ibid., 12. 16. For a complete discussion of how anti-blackness permeated English religion, see the introduction to this volume. 17. Virginia Mason Vaughan, Performing Blackness on English Stages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 19. 18. For a full discussion of the black imago, see Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks. 19. While Othello criticism often focuses on Othello as an outsider within the play, this is not the first study to refute Othello’s absolute alterity within the context of the play. Others to address the potential for Othello’s belonging include Dennis Britton (Becoming Christian), Emily Bartels (Speaking of the Moor:

124

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27.

Othello Is a White Man From Alcazar to Othello), and Daniel Vitkus (Turning Turk: English Theatre and the Multicultural Mediterrean). This is, however, the first study to look at the implications of Othello’s belonging on emerging notions of the individual English subject and on human ontology. The connections between whiteness and moral qualities of virtue and chastity are well documented in the period. See Lara Bovilsky, Barbarous Play, pages 37–66. Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks. Translated by Richard Philcox (New York: Grove Press, 2008), p. 110. Ibid., 72. Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), p. 26. Ibid., 22. Carol Rutter, Enter the Body: Women and Representation on Shakespeare’s Stage (New York: Routledge, 2000), p. 152. Patterson, 1–14. Camille Slights, “Slaves and Subjects in Othello,” Shakespeare Quarterly  48, no. 4 (Winter 1997): 377–390.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

4

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves Comparing the Descriptions of North Americans and Africans in the Narratives of John Hawkins and William Davenant’s The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru

Early Modern travel journals have experienced a resurgence of scholarly interest in recent years. The earliest encounters between the geographically secluded and rhetorically xenophobic English and people other than continental Europeans, specifically black Africans and Native Americans, have once again become an important area of academic exploration. In the first part of the twenty-first century, numerous anthologies on the topic have been produced. The Andrew Hadfield edited anthology Amazons, Savages, and Machiavels: Travel and Colonial Writing in English, 1550–1630 (2001), is a collection of primary documents concerning English colonial encounters around the globe.1 Five years later, Peter C. Marshall edited a similar collection, Travel Narratives from the Age of Discovery. Aside from primary document collections, scholars have also theorized and historicized the moment of encounter in works such as New World Encounters2 and Michael Householder’s Inventing Americans in the Age of Discovery: Narratives of Encounter.3 Historically, scholars have taken numerous different tracks when discussing these encounters, and arguments are made that present black Africans and Native Americans in both positive and negative lights. The encounters with black Africans similarly present opposing viewpoints describing a people that are anything from exotic wonders to fearsome beasts. Kate Lowe’s “The Stereotyping of Black Africans in Renaissance Europe” collects numerous differing opinions and stereotypes the English held of black Africans: on the negative side, that the English population considered Africans lazy, criminal, and irresponsible with an inherent inclination to drunkenness and sexual promiscuity, all traits that the early modern English associated with “uncivilized” cultures.4 On the positive side, “physical prowess was one of the few accomplishments of black Africans that was valued, and Africans were employed in Europe in a range of physical activities, both of a military and a nonmilitary bent.”5 While black Africans and Native Americans, both peoples discovered by the English in the same era,6 have received their share of scholarly attention, the two encounters have not yet been analyzed together, specifically in regard to the Early Modern English fashioning of race, particularly the

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

126

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

role race plays in early English constructions of subjectivity. One question concerning the primary encounters with these two new peoples that has been avoided by scholars is that of slavery: in spite of the existing Native American populations, which the Spaniards sometimes used as slaves, why was there still a demand for black African slaves in the New World? This question hinges on our willingness to examine race not only as a characteristic of varying human beings, but also as a structural difference that separates the human race from the inhuman race and establishes one’s capacity for subjectivity. Although the English began global exploration later than many European countries, they made numerous voyages to Africa and to the Americas during the Renaissance, beginning chronologically with John Cabot’s voyage to America in 1497. Few voyages, however, included both locations in a single voyage; the earliest among these voyages is that of Sir John Hawkins in 1562. With Hawkins encountering both races in the same voyage, the narratives of his travels are an appropriate locus to view the difference his representations of black Africans as compared with Native Americans. Sir John Hawkins has received attention by historians, but these works have not theorized the structural implications of the narratives recorded on Hawkins’s voyages. Hawkins has been the subject numerous biographies, but the majority of these works focus on the historical aspects of his voyages.7 Although widely recognized in scholarship as the progenitor of the triangle slave trade, his voyages often escape the theoretical critiques that focus on the mass, chattel slavery industry perpetrated during the Restoration, even though his voyages and the profits he obtained from them laid the foundation for the emergence of chattel slavery as an industry. Hawkins’s accounts, however, should not escape the scrutiny scholars have placed on the commercialized triangle slave industry of the seventeenth century. While scholarship is full of oversights and omissions, I find the lack of attention paid to Hawkins and his voyages by scholars of race in Early Modern England particularly disturbing. Even the most well-known volumes on slavery and scholars of race in Early Modern England avoid analyzing Hawkins with any real scrutiny. The collection Essays on the History of Blacks in Britain begins with an essay on the early presence of blacks in Britain dating back to the Roman times, but then skips chronologically to slave rebellions in the nineteenth century.8 Kenneth Morgan’s introduction to volume one of The  British Transatlantic Slave Trade begins by excluding Hawkins’s participation in the practice of slave trade.9 The volume instead dates the beginning of the British slave trade to a century later, stating “For nearly a century and a half, the English were major participants in the transatlantic slave trade. Between the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660 and the abolition by statute of the British slave trade in 1807.”10 Kim Hall’s Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England, a book dedicated to examining the commodity nature of blackness, only briefly acknowledges that Hawkins wrested control over African trade from

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

127

the Portuguese, but then veers away from giving his voyages true consideration, claiming that “the importance of early slave trade is underdocumented because of its surreptitious nature.11 Peter Fryer, in his 1984 tome Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain gives brief descriptions of Hawkins’s voyages, accounting for the number of slaves and commenting on profits but not theorizing the effects of these voyages.12 James Walvin’s Black Ivory: A History of British Slavery follows Fryer’s example, making only two short mentions of Hawkins, and in both cases only giving a summary of facts with no analysis.13 The entirety of Margo Hendricks and Patricia Parker’s 1994 collection of seventeen articles, Women, “Race,” and Writing in the Early Modern Period, fails to make a single reference to John Hawkins.14 The Oxford Companion to Black British History contains an entry for John Hawkins, but none of the entries on slavery mention him, and these entries place the beginnings of British slave trade in the late seventeenth century.15 One possible explanation for the aversion to theorizing Sir John Hawkins’s exploits is that theoretical critiques of Hawkins would problematize most scholarly theories of Otherness and “race” in Early Modern England. Analyzing Hawkins’s encounters force questions of how race was both a construction of identity and essential to constructions of humanity. Theories of Otherness cross all disciplines of Early Modern English scholars because Otherness is a vacuous term that defines any category of human difference, including but not limited to class, blood, gender, nation, and religion. Existing scholarship tends to place all these categories on equal footing as forms of human Otherness, often arguing for the legitimacy of one element above others in determining absolute Otherness. What scholarship has yet to allow for is the possibility that not all differences are created equal. Currently, the field of Early Modern Race Studies analyzes the differences between types of humans, interpreting race purely as a construction of social difference. Hawkins’s voyages both demystify and problematize scholarly and social “constructions” of race by opening the possibility of racial difference existing not as just a construction of humanity, but rather an a priori, inalienable foundation for the construction of humanity. Analyzing the existing narratives of Hawkins’s voyages presents an as-yet untheorized possibility for the role of race in Early Modern England; Hawkins’s narratives reveal that race is not just a matter of human difference, but a structural antagonism that divides humanity from inhumans. Before engaging the theoretical implications of Hawkins’s travel narratives, it is necessary to give a brief history of John Hawkins’s slave travels. John Hawkins, a merchant from Plymouth, first ventured into Africa in the 1550s for the specific purpose of trafficking in humans. During a trip to the Canary Islands, he first heard of the possibility of profiting from the traffic of human beings from Portuguese explorers and settlers (Morgan, “Sir John Hawkins” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online).16 Altogether, Hawkins made three trips to Africa for the purpose of obtaining

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

128

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

slaves. During his first voyage in 1562, which he claimed was to explore Portuguese settlements in Africa, Hawkins managed to capture 300 Africans to transport across the Atlantic, of which 140 survived to be traded in the Spanish Colonies.17 Despite the fact that Hawkins had his cargo confiscated by Spanish authorities for trading in the West Indies without proper contracts, the trip turned a handsome profit and attracted the attention of even more powerful financiers. Hawkins’s second slaving voyage began in 1564, and this time was a semiofficial national venture backed by three members of Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Council. The Queen was persuaded to give her blessing to the voyage, and along with her approval, she donated a 700-ton carrack named the Jesus of Lubeck to the cause. The trip was a success, as Hawkins was able to transport an estimated 400 slaves and turn a 60% profit.18 Upon his return, Queen Elizabeth granted Hawkins a new coat of arms, with a crest showing a bound slave,19 and he became Elizabeth’s slave trader. Hawkins’s third voyage in 1567 was quite a disaster; after his ships were severely damaged in storms, his fleet was attacked by the Spanish fleet at the port of Veracruz. Only two of Hawkins’s fleet of six ships returned to England, the ones captained by Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake. Although disastrous enough to end British slave trade until 1650, the expedition still turned a profit. While Hawkins’s travels were not on a scale equal to the massive enterprise that slave trade would become in the late seventeenth century, these three slaving trips established the profitability of the black slave trade and recognized the blacks’ inherent value as a commodity. The historical implications of Hawkins’s trafficking and profiteering are clear; he laid the foundation for 300-plus years of racial genocide perpetrated by the English resulting in the deaths of millions of Africans. The theoretical implications, however, are, while it may be hard to believe, much more disturbing. Also of importance in these voyages, although the focus of less scholarly exploration, is that Hawkins also encountered Native Americans, and thus his narratives become the earliest English documents to recount experiences with both black Africans and Native Americans on their native soil. The narratives reveal both the preexisting structural distinction between black Africans and other peoples and the ease with which the structural position of blacks as inhuman is perpetuated and circulated through the subconscious and the social. The narrative of Hawkins’s second voyage in particular is important for many reasons both historical and theoretical in nature. This narrative is the longest and most descriptive of the three and includes detailed encounters with both black Africans and Native Americans. While the comparative nature of Hawkins’s narrative makes it appear as though he placed black Africans and Native Americans on similar ontological ground, the nature of the comparisons reveals the ontological rift between the two that establishes blacks as nonentities while humanizing and incorporating the Native Americans into human civil society. Although he offers comparisons of both newly encountered peoples, he compares the

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

129

Native Americans to European subjects while the comparisons of the black races are mostly contained within the race and entirely exclude comparisons to English subjects; he mostly compares black tribes to other black tribes and occasionally to Native Americans. The following section will analyze the ways in which Hawkins’s comparisons position the newly encountered beings ontologically. Since the narrative is a descriptive chronological account of his voyages, it describes his encounters with black Africans first. While Hawkins does eventually attempt to distinguish between numerous tribes of black Africans, I want to take a moment to examine his first reaction to the black people of Cape Verde. In the first instance, Hawkins makes three comments describing the tribes of Cape Verde, stating they are “all blacke, and are called Negroes, without any apparel, sauing before their priuities.”20 I find it interesting that Hawkins’ initial response invokes first the color of the tribes (all blacke). While constructions of identity difference were indeed fluid in the period, it is obvious that to Hawkins color is the primary determinant of difference. He then confirms that color is the primary determinant by reiterating blackness as a defining feature in a way that objectifies and commodifies their blackness. Blackness, as I have argued, existed in the Early Modern English psyche as a concept of abstract absence. This notion of abject blackness, as discussed, had value for the subject as a form of ontological capital that confirmed the subject’s existence. Deploying the term Negro, then, as a collective descriptor for black Africans serves to ground that abstraction in a corporeal form that is more easily commodified. While notions of abject blackness did travel across the Atlantic, they were not a tangible artifact that could be seized and exported to the New World. Negroes, however, served as a tangible manifestation of the abstract commodity that could be traded. We can then read these together as a subconscious recognition of difference and a conscious commodification of that difference. Although Hawkins would later attempt to distinguish between the tribes, his first reaction is reminiscent of the grammar of accumulation and fungibility that Wilderson argues structures the black ontology.21 Hawkins makes it understood through his ordering of descriptors that while other differences can be read, blackness is a unifying feature of the Africans that supersedes his later attempts to articulate the tribes’ differences. Although Hawkins does eventually describe the tribes differences, even these differences reflect how his subconscious positions black Africans as inhuman. Once he begins to articulate tribal differences, these distinctions are made primarily through the tribes’ relationship to violence and labor. While Hawkins comments on the “civility” of the Leophares,22 the evidence he uses to distinguish the Leophares from other tribes is based not on any civil interaction he had with them, but rather through their methods in war against other blacks. He does not attempt to relate to the Leophares, but rather describes them only in relation to other blacks. Hawkins distinguishes the Leophares from the Jaloffs through the types of weapons they

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

130

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

use: while both use bows and arrows and daggers, the former uses a unique type of dart. Hawkins only distinguishes between forms of blackness by their capacity to inflict violence upon one another. Although Hawkins’s recognition of the tribes’ difference can potentially be read as a reading of cultural differences between the tribes, I propose that these descriptions actually reproduce the subconscious separation of blackness from humanity. Hawkins’s encounter with the black body is unique in the fact that he does not produce descriptions of the blacks in relation to his English self.23 These descriptions work to establish the blacks’ incapacity for relationality with the civil subject. Instead of attempting to relate the black body to his notions of culture and self, Hawkins creates a network of relationality that engages blackness while not intersecting with his own notions of subjectivity. In other words, Hawkins engages blackness, regardless of its varying forms, as existing in a semantic field that cannot relate with his own. The differentiation of tribes through their means of war and violence, moreover, is not necessarily done for the sake of establishing varying black identities. Hawkins began his voyage with the understanding that he would be acquiring Negroes by force, so defining them by their ability to inflict violence is self-serving; by making note of their weapons, he can discern which tribe would cause his crew less harm, thus accruing fewer costs and increasing his profits. The same can be said of his mention of one tribe’s civility. It might appear as though Hawkins is making an attempt to relate to the Leophares by describing them as able to incorporate the cultural practices of civil society; however, Hawkins gives no description of the interactions between the Leophares and French. He does not comment on the way the two cultures interact because, in this case, “civility” should not be read as a measure of culture, but rather docility. In spite of his claim of the civility and gentle nature of the Leophares, their capacity to be a Negro commodity overrides the possibility of relationality and reduces their “civility” to a measure of the force necessary for capture. The manner in which Hawkins recognizes variations in blackness establishes that blacks and Europeans cannot relate as human beings through cultural interaction but only through degrees of violence and force. When he later travels to the island of Sambula, he differentiates between the Samboses and the Sapies, two Negro tribes, through their relationship to labor: the Samboses take the Sapies “as their slaves, whome onely they keepe to till the ground.”24 The difference between the Samboses and the Sapies is not a recognition of differences in culture, politics, nation, or any of the constituent elements of human identity, but rather, the distinction between the two is based on their relation to labor: Sapies are those who work, Samboses are those who have work done for them. Scholars have often used the fact of African slavery before the European encounter as evidence for why the Europeans enslaved the Africans, but Hawkins’s narrative challenges this misconception and reveals the difference between the

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

131

experience of forced labor to which Africans subjected each other and the slavery to which Europeans subjected Africans. Hawkins makes it a point to acknowledge the slavery of the Sapies and recognizes that it exists as a result of numerous factors, namely, that the Sapies were prisoners of war and that Samboses lacked the ability and knowledge in tilling the land. Hawkins does not mention, and possibly had no way of knowing, that, in most cases, these African laborers could buy their freedom and/or integrate into the conquering tribe’s society, much like historical instances of human subjects experiencing slavery at a nonontological level, as simply the forced labor of other humans; as with the ancient humans’ enslavement of conquered people, slavery in pre-European African society was an experience of humanity, not the ontological abject of humanity. For these slaves, recognition and incorporation was a possibility; the social death of the slave was not the permanent, a priori position that it is for black Africans in relation to Europeans. Hawkins attempts to establish the difference between the slave and the master in the interaction between the two black tribes, but he misinterprets the ontological implications of the network of interactions occurring. He interprets the interaction between a forced laborer and those forcing labor as a master/slave relation, but he then positions both tribes, those he acknowledges as the master and the slave, as ontological Slaves. First, although he calls the Sapies “slaves” to the Samboses, he does not recognize the Samboses’s right to own the Sapies as property. Instead, he disavows the Samboses’s claim to the Sapies, stating that he “tooke many [Sapies] in that place.”25 Hawkins disregards the Samboses’s capacity for property ownership and, exercising his own right to it, took the slave Sapies from the Samboses. Furthermore, Hawkins assumes the role of master for the Samboses as well; recognizing their relative uselessness as laborers does not stop him from taking the Samboses, but rather their “fle[eing] into the maine” saved them. Hawkins’s attitude toward the Samboses is evidence of the difference between ontological Slavery and the experience of forced labor; although Hawkins’s recognizes that the Samboses lack the necessary skills to be effective forced laborers, this lack of skills does not affect their capacity to be slaves. Hawkins’s attempt to claim the Samboses as property places them on equal ontological ground with the Sapies as inhuman property, thus rendering any distinction moot. Although Hawkins consciously acknowledges the Samboses’ claim to the Sapies’ labor as the spoils of war, the Samboses have no ontological right to resistance in the face of the subject Hawkins’s claim to the labor of both the Sapies and the Samboses. Hawkins’s narrative makes no attempt at establishing relationality to blacks even through comparisons, but rather uses comparisons to connect all blacks to one another, not as humans, but as Negroes. The narrative of Hawkins’s first voyage deployed the term Negro as a descriptor of what was later given the oxymoronic phrase “human cargo.” Negroes were not a people, but rather a commodity that was collected and exchanged. Negroes lacked the capacity to be defined as individuals, but rather existed only as a

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

132

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

collective, as evidenced by Hawkins’s narratives never giving an exact count of the Negro bodies in the cargo hold. Upon his first encounter with black Africans, Hawkins immediately recognized not the humanity of the black African, but rather their inherent capacity for accumulation and fungibility, the grammar of suffering relegated to the ontological Slave. Further evidence for his thinking of blacks as a collective and not as individuals comes from Hawkins’s experience on the island of Sambula, which I discussed earlier. Hawkins’s main ship, the Jesus of Lubeck, anchored here independently on December 12 after his fleet was separated from him during a storm on December 10. For two full days before the rest of his fleet’s arrival, he was “going every day a shoare, to take the Inhabitants with burning, and spoiling their towns.”26 Never does he give a count of the number encountered or collected. The description of the amount of Negroes as an undefined collective is an anomaly reserved only for describing Negroes; other commodities, from animals to vessels (including those used by the blacks) warranted a numerical estimate, if not an exact count. The discursive treatment of blacks as a collective cargo in Hawkins’s narrative displays the falsity of any inferred culture among on the black collectives. Hawkins’s descriptions do not record the culture of the blacks, but rather make black behavior and interactions the dominion and property of the subject. Hawkins shapes blacks into beings that exist purely as the product of civil society’s needs: blacks are whatever whites say they are. In fact, Hawkins gives credit for the modicum of civility he attributes to the black Africans to their interactions with the French. He cannot associate blackness with the capacity for humanity, but rather can only attribute what he observes to their capacity for mimicry, a trope of blackness that carried on through the Renaissance. Some scholars try to displace the blame for black slavery onto the Spanish and Portuguese, who established African slavery before the English encounter, but this transference of blame requires a denial of English subjectivity’s capacity to establish its own grounds for establishing or disregarding relationality. Historically, the Portuguese and Spanish did begin enslaving blacks prior to the English, and Hawkins makes note of his voyage being possible because of the demand for blacks in Hispaniola. While this fact seems concrete, it further reveals the ontological separation between blacks and Native Americans. Instead of questioning the existing interactivity between continental Europeans and black Africans, or even conceptualizing a new relation based on his own experience, Hawkins relies on the preexisting state of affairs to eliminate the need for the consideration of relationality. He needs neither to confirm nor deny the ontological position of blackness outside of humanity because the very consideration is an impossibility for blackness. Hawkins acknowledges the Spanish demand for black slaves in the Americas and follows suit, allowing market forces, Spanish demand for and an essentially unlimited supply of black slaves, to dictate and justify the inhuman treatment of blacks. While Hawkins does address that there

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

133

is a demand for black slaves in Hispaniola, he does not address or question why the Spanish demanded black slaves and did not use Native Americans despite the fact they would require no overseas transport. While history shows that the Spanish did use Native Americans for forced labor in the Americas, examining this practice through the lens of ontological Slavery as defined by Patterson reveals that the Spanish encomienda system is not a Master/Slave relationship that renders the Native Americans socially dead, but rather a relationship between two recognized subjects that resulted in forced labor. From Columbus’s first encounter with the inhabitants of the New World, the issue of enslaving the Native Americans was met with resistance from Spanish religious and royal authorities. Columbus’s earliest letters from the New World proposed enslaving the Native Americans, a proposal that both the Catholic monarchs, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, and the Pope rejected, declaring that the Native Americans were to be considered subjects and converted to Catholicism rather than enslaved. The debate resulted in the compromise of incorporating a system of forced labor that recognized the Native Americans’ basic human rights, the encomienda system. Encomienda established limits on how many Native Americans a colonist could have under his control, as well as the length of time he could use their labor. While the crown was ineffective in enforcing the system and the Native Americans received inhumane treatment from the encomenderos, the Spanish initially incorporated this system in the New World not to enslave Native Americans, but rather to protect their human rights. Encomienda was intended to be a relationship between the Native Americans and the Spanish where the Native Americans would provide free, albeit forced, labor and in exchange, the system dictated that the Spanish would provide and care for the Native American laborers, teach them Spanish, and convert them to Catholicism; they were not to be abused or mistreated under the system. Columbus and other conquistadors, however, ignored the recommended implementation of encomienda and instead continued their inhumane treatment of Native Americans. Upon learning of Columbus’s continued mistreatment of Native Americans, Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand stripped him of his governorship over New World colonies and took the lands under direct control of the crown. When this did not improve her subjects’ treatment of the Native Americans, Isabel and Ferdinand passed a law allowing for the importation of blacks from Africa to be used as slaves to spare the Native Americans. Once the Spanish began to import blacks as slaves, further legal proceedings mandating improvements in the treatment of Native Americans occurred. In 1503, Queen Isabella created the Casa de Contratación to govern all Spanish exploration and colonies and designated Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca to study the problems related to Native American relations. In 1524, the Catholic monarchs created the Royal and Supreme Council of the Indies for the specific purpose of governing and improving the conditions of Native Americans under Spanish rule. In 1542, King Charles I issued the “New Laws of the

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

134

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

Indies for the Good Treatment and Preservation of the Indians,” which expressly prohibited the enslavement of Native Americans. With slavery of Native Americans outlawed by Spain, in 1555 John Hawkins enters the picture and begins trading black Africans to the Spanish to be used as slaves. So, from the very beginning of the Spanish encounter with Native Americans, the practice of forced labor was met with resistance both politically and ideologically, resistance that was not a consideration for black Africans. Timothy Yeager argues that, even though the encomienda system cost the crown revenue, it satisfied an ideological bias against slavery,27 and in the case of Native Americans, this is true. The continual passage of laws to improve the living conditions and treatment of Native Americans disavows their relationship to two of the three constituent elements of ontological Slavery; it grants them honor and makes their subjection to violence contingent upon an act of transgression. Both the royal and religious authorities of Spain recognized the humanity of the Native Americans, and thus made their enslavement a criminal act. Encomienda also challenged the third constituent element of Slavery, natal alienation, because the lands that the Native Americans were forced to work remained their property. These considerations, regardless of the outcome, derive from a preconscious recognition of the humanity of the Native Americans, rendering their “enslavement” as a human relationship of forced labor, and not an ontological social death. The enslavement of blacks, however, received no political or ideological considerations; Slavery was always already the natural condition of blacks, so much so that their a priori abject status was a tool to confirm the subjectivity of Native American and their human ontological rights. The Spanish incorporated blacks into their colonies as both experiential slaves and ontological Slaves in an attempt to alleviate the strain on Spanish and Native American relations. The Spanish imported black Slaves in an attempt to distinguish the ontological black Slave from the Native American forced laborers, in other words, to distinguish the inhuman abject black from the human subject. Neither the Spanish nor their later suppliers of black slaves, including the English, felt that blacks warranted any consideration as nonSlaves. Despite continual political, military, and discursive conflicts between the Spanish and the English during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in which the English made use of outrage against Spanish mistreatment of the Native Americans, the ontological condition of blacks as Slaves was mutually accepted without debate or remorse on both sides. The ontological status of the black as a null being was a necessity of both sides at a level of the psyche beyond the conscious recognition of human identity, transversing and superseding the conflicts brought about by different national identities and establishing the English and Spaniards as ontological equals. Hawkins, before an actual encounter with black Africans, conducted his voyages under the assumption that blackness, even in the sentient manifestation as black Africans, is a commodity and not a part of humanity. While it is possible that Spanish and Portuguese experiences influenced

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

135

Hawkins’s view, Hawkins, as a subject, does have the capacity to establish the basis for relationality, as evidenced through his interactions with Native Americans. Hawkins does record original observations of black Africans, but these observations, as discussed earlier, do not challenge the knowledge garnered from existing continental sources and maintain the inferior position of blacks in comparison to the Europeans. He does not exercise his capacity as a subject to establish relationality because relationality is impossible under the paradigm: the black/non-black binary structuring the Early Modern period operates under the paradigmatic provisions in which blackness has no ontological resistance in the eyes of the subject; it is always already a null being. Regardless of national identity, be it English, Spanish, or Portuguese, the subject is acting on an existing structural opposition positioning blackness a priori as a nonsubstance that needs no consideration. Hawkins’s narrative neither addresses nor challenges the existing continental European views of black Africans because subjectivity, not identity, has determined the position of blackness before a primary experiential encounter with sentient blackness. The same, however, cannot be said for Native Americans. Hawkins, however feebly, does make a challenge to the existing continental opinions concerning Native Americans perpetuated by the Spanish and Portuguese. Spanish and Portuguese encounters with both black Africans and Native Americans relied heavily on force, but force deployed for different means; for blacks, it was to enslave and for Natives, it was to conquer, convert, or eradicate. The Spanish and Portuguese instigation of the slave trade is the result of the extreme violence perpetrated in Africa and is unlikely, if not impossible, without deploying extreme violence. The violence perpetrated by the Spanish in both Africa and the Americas is well-documented. The Spanish and Native Americans engaged in numerous wars, including the conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortés (1519–1521), the conquest of Peru and the Incas by Francisco Pizarro (1532–1542), and the conquests of Puerto Rico by Juan Ponce de León. Yet, the Spanish were able to admire as civilized humans the natives they conquered: Cortes repeatedly compares Mexico with the great cities of Europe. The presentation of black Africans is not like this. Hawkins continues the prevailing Spanish and Portuguese treatments and opinions of blacks without question; he establishes England’s position in the black slave trade, deploys violent means in the procuring of slaves, adopts the Spanish term “Negro” to commodify blackness and deny black humanity, and grants no ontological consideration to blackness. When it comes to Native Americans, however, Hawkins exercises his capacity as a subject to establish relationality. The primary instance comes when describing a Native tribe that had allied with the French: Hawkins states, “[the Native Americans] are called by the Spanyards ‘Gente triste,’ that is to say, sad people, meaning thereby, that they are not men of capacity,” but that, based on a war strategy of shooting around trees, “it appeareth that they are people of some policy…so witty in their answers, that by the

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

136

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

captaines owne report, a councellor with vs could not giue a more profound reason.”28 This particular passage is striking for the way in which Hawkins asserts his subjectivity in relation to a potentially paradigm shifting encounter for the English. This is the only time that Hawkins offers a direct contradiction to established knowledge of either black African or Native American peoples. In this one passage, Hawkins acknowledges the prevailing Spanish notion that Native Americans are lacking in human capacity and then compares their intelligence and reasoning skills with those of the English, marking them on par with or surpassing those of the average Englishman. Instead of relying on existing knowledge derived from the Spanish to be the foundation for his relation to the Native Americans, he challenges existing notions and exercises his capacity as a subject to establish relationality and to recognize the humanity of the Native Americans. Although Hawkins’s rhetoric and subsequent treatment of black Africans and Native Americans varies greatly, he also makes comparisons between Negroes and Native Americans. He compares the two new peoples’ methods for making fire: “There is one thing to be maruelled at, for the making of their fire, and not onely they but the Negroes do the same, which is made onely by two sticks, rubbing them against one another”29; and their proficiency with bow and arrow: “In their warres they vse bowes and arrows, whereof their bowes are made of a kind of yew, but blacker then ours, but many passing the strength of the Negroes.”30 He also compares their skin tones, referring to the people of the Caribbean as “tawnie like an Olive,”31 while the sub-Saharan Africans are “all blacke, and are called Negroes.”32 Hawkins recognizes similarities between the black Africans and Native Americans, but both the rhetoric of his narrative and the historical facts of his actions fail to recognize the humanity of the former while fully humanizing the latter. The manner in which initial European encounters with two previously unencountered peoples vary, despite some similarities between the two new peoples, positions the source of the difference beyond the realm of conscious recognition. In the encounter with black Africans, Hawkins relies on preconscious notions of black inhumanity to enforce the established conscious perception of black inhumanity, thus eliminating the necessity for conscious choice in the situation and treatment of the peoples involved. In the encounter with Native Americans, a debate about their humanity is possible, leading Hawkins to contest one of the Spanish attitudes toward Native Americans and instead form his own opinion. In other words, Hawkins’s varying application of the existing knowledge of these previously unencountered peoples provided by the Spanish shows that he is not merely influenced by the Spanish, as scholars have suggested, and signals a more pervasive and less understood source of the structural discrepancy in his treatment of the two peoples. It displaces the origin of black inhumanity from an experiential basis, transferring it from a conscious choice to a preconscious notion. These attempts to relate the Native American culture and society to his own display Hawkins’s subconscious incorporation of the Native populations

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

137

into ontological humanity. Although Hawkins’s initial encounter had little impact on the eventual relocation and genocide of Native American peoples by the English and their descendants, the resulting experiences of the Native Americans are of little ontological consequence. The importance lies in the gesture of making an attempt at forging human relationships, a gesture that Hawkins never considered in his descriptions of black Africans. Although the colonizers eventually removed the Native Americans’ status as full human subjects and created a liminal space for them as junior partners in humanity, their ontological status outside of civil society was not predetermined upon the initial encounter and was never absolute. In fact, the opposite is true. The initial subconscious response to the Native American as indicated in Hawkins’s narrative was one of recognition and incorporation; the default response of the English to the encounter with Native Americans was that it was a human encounter. The initial recognition, no matter how brief or flimsy, grants the Native American an ontological status that Hawkins denies the black African. The attempts at relationality are a recognition of culture and society that locates the commodity value of the new race in the beings’ possessions rather than in the beings themselves; instead of being the commodity as the blacks were, the Native Americans had commodities worthy of an exchange between ontological equals. The recognition of people producing and claiming a culture requires the recognition of the capacity to possess property, which is granted the Native American but denied the black Slave.

Gender, Affect, and the Denial of the Black Body Over the past twenty years, Renaissance scholars have increasingly addressed race in the Early Modern English period through its intersection with constructions of gender. Kim Hall argues that “the polarity of light and dark articulates ongoing cultural concerns over gender roles and shifting trade structures.”33 She argues that blackness became a political tool that worked on various levels of abstraction from the psychological to the social. She makes numerous good points concerning the construction of binary oppositions that allowed aesthetic, commercial, and gender lines to be determined along the white/black binary. She even goes as far as to position “black” as a term that exits only as opposition to the dominance of “white.”34 In part because of England’s geographical location being separate from continental Europe, England maintained an exceedingly xenophobic discourse regarding race far later than countries such as Spain and Portugal, so modern conceptions of racial difference based on aesthetic differences were just beginning to form in the sixteenth century. Lynda Boose’s 1994 article “‘The Getting of a Lawful Race’ Racial Discourse in Early Modern England and the Unrepresentable Black Woman” challenges the notion that skin color was the major determining factor of race in the period, claiming that constructions of race are based on the individual’s recognition of

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

138

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

an acknowledged signifying discourse surrounding the categories of difference.35 In other words, race was not predicated purely or primarily on color, but rather as any of an assortment of recognized differences from one’s self. While she acknowledges Winthrop Jordan’s claim that, “Englishmen found blackness in human beings a peculiar and important point of difference. The Negro’s colour set him radically apart from the Englishmen,”36 she then displaces blackness from the primary negation of the subject, and instead offers the interplay between gender and blackness, namely the black woman, as the most abject form of sentient existence. Boose argues that, “The black man is representable. But within Europe’s symbolic order of dominance and desire, the black woman destroys the system.”37 This argument becomes problematic, however, when reviewed in relation to her evidence. She argues that early modern drama makes the black woman unrepresentable either by concealing the narrative of the black woman or by concealing her blackness. She uses Zanche from Webster’s The White Devil, Marlowe’s Dido, and Shakespeare’s Cleopatra as evidence for the repression of the racial narrative; Zanche is but a mirror of her white mistress while Dido and Cleopatra both dwell in racial ambiguity, their blackness only obscurely referred to. This argument is problematic because, like Hall, Boose conflates blackness and Moorishness, articulating the racial binary the same way as Hall, as “white versus Other” rather than “non-black versus black.”38 The problem with these texts lies in their assumptions about constructions of race and particularly blackness. They operate on the basic assumption that “whiteness” is a constituent element of the human subject. Hall begins her book with an epigraph from George Puttenham: Or when we deride by plaine and flat contradiction, as he that saw a dwarfe go in the streete said to his companions that walked with him: See yonder giant: and to a Negro or woman blackamoore, in good soothe ye are a faire one… (The Arte of English Poesie, 1589)39 Hall reads this passage as evidence of the intersecting binaries of white and black and fair and ugly. While this reading of derision through contradiction, as Puttenham puts it, does establish dark as the opposite of fair, Hall assumes that Puttenham is using the terms “Negro” and “blackamoore” interchangeably to describe the aesthetics of the woman. I suggest that Puttenham is not making “Negro” and “blackamoore” into one category, but rather that his language separates the two into the anti-human Negro and the Other human “blackamoore.” Although the term “blackamoore” includes the word black, as Ania Loomba argues, the black in this case refers to the religious difference of the Moors. So “blackamoore” is divorced from concepts of abjection and refers to Moors, a class of recognized subjects, and not to black Africans. In Puttenham’s text, the term Negro stands alone, being separated from the descriptor woman by the conjunction “or.” The term “blackamoore,” however, receives a gender-specific descriptor. He uses

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

139

a gendered distinction, available and applicable to English subjects as well, to separate the Negro from the blackamoore. This separation on gendered lines also recognizes the Moor’s capacity for recognition based on human descriptors, thus repositioning the Moor on the same side of the structural binary as the similarly gendered English subjects as defined in opposition to blackness. He intentionally places Negro in the sentence so that they appear as a homogeneous group that lacks the capacity for gender while simultaneously recognizing the inherent humanity of the blackamoore. His writing reveals a binary aligned not for whiteness, but rather against blackness. Here it becomes important to discuss how notions of gender are predicated upon an assumption of humanity. Gender studies pioneer Judith Butler’s work Gender Trouble claims that biological sex is radically different from gender, arguing that “gender is an effect of a specific formation of power in which “female” and “woman” are relational terms…not stable, divine descriptors, but rather the negation of the phallocentric and compulsory heterosexual subject.”40 She later argues that “the distinction between sex and gender serves the argument that whatever biological intractability sex appears to have, gender is culturally constructed…gender is the cultural meanings the sexed body assumes.”41 Although she attempts to problematize the gender binary, these basic assumptions are the foundation upon which her argument is constructed. Through analyzing previous gender studies scholars, she comes to the conclusion that, “Gender is the repeated stylization of the body, a set of repeated acts within a highly rigid regulatory frame that congeal over time to produce the appearance of substance, of a natural sort of being.”42 Unfortunately, her assumptions about the constructions of gender become problematic when dealing with women of color and notions of blackness. First, by positioning the gendered terms of “female” and “woman” as the relational terms, she acknowledges that the gendered subject, whether male or female, exists as a subject. Second, she then positions the female as the object to the male subject, further establishing relationality by recognizing the female through her relation to the male subject rather than positing her inability to relate. Third, she acknowledges that gender, regardless of the foundations used to determine it, is dependent upon culture. The existence of gender, according to Butler, is dependent on these three things: the existence of a normative subject, its capacity to relate to other subjects, and the culture of that subject. Butler’s work, while groundbreaking at the time it was produced, has since been complicated and challenged by numerous scholars. Of particular interest for this work are those scholars who have adjudicated Butler’s research under the lens of race and women-of-color feminism; brilliant minds such as Grace Hong, Samantha Pinto, Jayna Brown, and others. These scholars have shown how notions of gender operate differently within, between, and across communities of color, offering constructions of gender and feminist critique that both reexamine and reconstruct gender difference and gendered

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

140

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

differences, and attempting to form communities that revel in those differences rather than striving for homogenized gender critiques. While these women-of-color feminist theorists offer compelling resistance to Butler’s notion of gender, all of these theories become problematic when placed in conversation with the theoretical framework of anti-black studies. While I find the works of Brown, Hong, and Butler immensely fascinating and valuable, I find their humanist assumptive logic problematic. Their studies of gender, whether race-based or not, depend on a humanist framework that assumes that the capacity to claim possession of their body exists equally among men and women of all races. One example of how humanism becomes problematic when discussing the Slave comes from Hong’s dissection of Patterson’s original theorization of the Slave ontology. Hong argues that Patterson assumes a male slave in his theorization,43 and uses this assumption to problematize his theory. By bringing rape and miscegenation into the argument, Hong points out that one of the constituent elements of Slavery is natal alienation, and that this quality extends beyond racial lines. Patterson’s narration that, as she puts it, “the reproduction of slavery as occurring through the denial of the masculine slave’s right of patrilineage” becomes problematic in instances of a white master raping a black Slave because in these cases it is “The white father’s lack of right to patrilineage—the fact that he did not bestow his free status to his children—is actually what reproduces capital accumulation through rape.”44 By bringing miscegenation into the discussion, Hong displaces the notions of natal alienation and capital reproduction away from patrilineage, as Patterson argues, and relocates it in the woman of color’s body. While I agree with her argument within the framework of humanism, it becomes problematic within a structure of black abjection that does not equally grant humanity, the right to a body, and the capacity for a gender, to all races. Hong assumes that the act of rape functions equally among all races and time periods and that the capacity for rape to occur between a Master and his slave existed in the antebellum period, a notion that is contested by the writing of Saidiya Hartman. In Scenes of Subjection, Hartman examines court cases from the nineteenth century to show that “the attempted rape of an enslaved woman was an offense neither recognized nor punished by law.”45 With the definition of rape at the time being, as Hartman states it, “the forcible carnal knowledge of a female against her will and without her consent,”46 then to disavow the act of rape in relation to the Slave body also throws into upheaval not only notions of consent, agency, and will in relation to the black body as Hartman argues,47 but also challenges the possibility of the black abject to stake a claim to its own body. The black abject that both Hong and Hartman use as evidence existed as the property of the Master, and the Master’s ownership claim of the black Slave’s body negated any potential claim the Slave would have to its own body. The Master’s claim to the black’s body confirms the black’s lack of bodily integrity, rendering blacks as beings inhabiting sentient flesh as opposed to

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

141

the “body” that is the domain of the subject. In the time of which both Hong and Hartman are writing, the enslaved body existed solely at the discretion of the Master, or as Hartman puts it, “the law’s selective recognition of slave humanity nullified the captive’s ability to give consent or act as agent and, at the same time, acknowledged the intentionality and agency of the slave but only as it assumed the form of criminality.”48 In other words, access to a body was not a recognized constituent element of the Slave except in cases where that body was subject to legal liability and, ultimately, punishment. Acts of violence, including sexual violence, against Slaves were not recognized as infringing on any rights because the Slave lacked the claim to its own body; raping a Slave was not a violation of the Slave’s body, but rather another acceptable use of the master’s property. As Hartman points out in the case of State of Missouri v. Celia, a Slave (1855), Celia’s plea attempting to claim the murder of her master as justified because of his repeated raping of her was preempted by her lack of a body; the court essentially ruled that she could not claim her body as her own, ergo she could not claim the Master’s rape as a violation. Since the enslaved black body exists “only as it assumed the form of criminality,”49 Celia, or any enslaved black for that matter, could not claim a violation of her body when that claim served to make her the victim of a criminal offense, but rather her body had to be bestowed on her by the subject when she was the perpetrator of a criminal offense. The body, then, is not an inherent feature of blackness, but rather a privilege bestowed upon black flesh only when it needs to be punished or destroyed to confirm the will and agency of the Master. The black body, then, can be read not as a divine absolute constituted by access to consent, agency, and will that define the human body as Hong and other humanists assume, but rather a notion constituted by, as Hartman argues, liability, violence, and punishment. This lack of access to the body challenges the gender divide between male and female as a privilege of the human body that does not extend to the Slave. I agree in part with Hong’s reading of the Master’s rape of the female Slave as the mechanism that reproduces capital in chattel slavery, but I also think her reliance on humanism weakens her theory as a structural argument and cannot examine the varying mechanisms that reproduce the Slave ontologically. Assuming that Slaves have a gendered body in the eyes of the subject allows Hong to present the child of a Slave woman as a relation to that woman, as though it is her status as a Slave, as opposed to the father’s status, that is bestowed on the child. Hartman, however, argues that the (re)production of enslavement and the legal codification of racial subordination depended upon various methods of sexual control and domination: anti-miscegenation statutes, rape laws that made the rape of white women by black men a capital offense, the sanctioning of sexual violence against slave women by virtue of the laws’ calculation of

142

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

negligible injury, the negation of kinship, and the commercial vitiation of motherhood as a means for the reproduction and conveyance of property and black subordination.50 That is, while Hong gives primacy to the rape of Slave women as the means of capital reproduction in slaving societies, Hartman points to varying forms of sexual control and domination of Slaves as the means of ontological reproduction in Slaving societies. It is this difference that is the basis for my formation of the Slave’s lack of a body; if we assume a humanist stance alongside Grace Hong, we can only examine the manner in which black women function as an identity, whereas aligning with Hartman allows us to examine how blackness precludes identity and functions as an ontology. If we take a moment to challenge the Slave’s capacity for a body, the mother/child and father/child relations are absent in the reproduction of labor and capital, and the descriptors of man, woman, and child lose prominence and become indistinguishable; within the Slave ontological position, all three exist equally as sentient flesh. This genderless framework forces itself into the discussion because the Slave as defined by Patterson lacks the capacity to engage in property relations; it can be owned, but cannot own. A Slave with the capacity to claim a body and a gender, even their own, is an ontological paradox. When inhabiting the position of the abject, “mother” and “child” cannot be read onto black bodies, but rather both are null entities that exist as fleshy accumulations of capital and labor; they are not people with the capacity for relations, but tools for the Master’s use physically, psychically, and ontologically. The act of a Slave giving birth must not then be read on equal ontological footing as the act of a subject giving birth; it cannot be considered the forming of a relationship or the production a child, but rather the reproduction of labor for the Master. In a framework that does not assume a body, the reproduction of labor and capital through childbirth that Hong reads as a gendered difference between the male Slave and the female Slave is read as one of myriad forms of sexual control and domination performed on genderless black flesh that (re)produce the Slave’s natal alienation. In light of Hartman, both Patterson and Hong are simultaneously right and wrong: the natal alienation that is part of the Slave ontology, the existence of the “genealogical isolate” that was “denied all claims on, and obligations to, his parents and living blood relations”51 is not found exclusively in the male body or the female body as it cannot be the product of a gendered body at all, but rather natal alienation precedes notions of gender; it is produced neither by fathers nor mothers, neither male bodies nor female bodies, but by ungendered black flesh. The notions of patrilineage and matrilineage reveal the pervasiveness of humanist assumptive logics when discussing race. Both Patterson and Hong agree on the notion of social death of Slaves, but then both use the social determination of filiation to describe the relationships between two beings of black flesh. If the black exists as a socially dead being, then using these

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

143

familial terms to describe their relations is fallacious at its core. How can we use terms whose basis lies in notions of recognized property and recognized filial relations to describe the reproduction of labor for a being who, as socially dead, lacks the capacity for property ownership and filial relations? If Patterson, Hong, and I all agree that the notion of social death exists and is inextricable from the Slave, then how do we reconcile the argument of patrilineage versus matrilineage when the beings being discussed lack an inherent capacity for filial lineage at all? The issue then becomes how do we describe the relations between socially dead beings whose very existence scandalize notions of relationality? There is a discussion to be had on these grounds, but it falls outside the scope of this volume. The coalition of differences proposed by women-of-color feminism is a valuable concept and one that certainly deserves pursuing. But while I agree that one can find ways to ally across differing identities within the realm of humanity, I question how this attempt at a coalition of differences can reconcile the differences between human subjects and non-human abjects. In other words, how does one create relationality with a being that lacks the capacity for relationality? How does the women-of-color feminism address the fact that the experience of rape was not a legal, social, or structural possibility for the black Slave woman in America? How does women-of-color feminism reconcile the fact that black Slaves in America, be they biologically male or biologically female, lacked the capacity to claim their own body, existing instead as something other than possessive individuals? These questions bear further discussion and inquiry, but that is not the crux of my project. What I want to articulate is that while I recognize a difference between the biological black male and black female, the notion of gendered black bodies based on cultural identities is antithetical to notions of black inhumanity. While there is a discussion to be had between women-of-color feminism and Afro-Pessimism gaps remain in women-of-color feminism that do not address the differences between notions of a body and sentient flesh that make me align theoretically with the latter. The inhumanity of blacks makes me question any coalition of differences between the woman of color that exists within humanity and the black woman that exists as the abject, which forces me to read these particular attempts at allying as a false alliance that focuses on constructions of identity while glossing over a structural difference between the two groups, a structural difference that the humanist framework used by Hong, Brown, and other women of color feminist scholars does not intend to address. Hong and Butler do not take into consideration the divide between notions of a body as compared with sentient flesh that is part of the Afro-pessimist epistemology. I argue that if we allow the question of who has access to the claim of a body, the existence of the embodied subject must be founded on an abject before the construction of notions of gender by the subject. In other words, the humanist assumption that female and woman are the negation of the phallocentric is flawed; the negation of the male-gendered

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

144

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

subject is not a female-gendered object, because both exist within the realm of the human. When we are allowed to question what is human, however, the negation of both the male- and female-gendered body becomes the genderless flesh of the abject. So, in a way, Boose is correct in her argument that the black woman is unrepresentable in Early Modern England, but flawed in her assumption that the black man is representable. She cites examples of the gendered Moorish body, and as human Others, the Moorish man and the Moorish woman are both representable; what she does not do is give gendered examples of abject blackness because, due to blackness’s incapacity for relationality, the concept of gendered blackness is an impossibility. So, when we delve into the annals of early modern English drama, we see gendered examples of Otherness, but we do not see gendered examples of blackness. Hawkins’s narrative signals this impossibility of the black body through the use of two concepts: gender and the capability of producing an effective response in the subject. Hawkins’s narrative contains passages that directly address the sex/gender distinction in relation to previously unencountered peoples, and by examining comparisons between the black Africans and Native Americans in these two passages of Hawkins’s narrative, we find blackness’s incapacity for gender distinctions. Only once in the entirety of Hawkins’s second narrative does he acknowledge a difference between black African men and women, but this acknowledgment is of the difference in biological sex, which Butler argues is “radically different” from gender. Upon discovering a group of black Africans in a town called Bymba, the scribe makes note that they are mostly women and children, commenting “there were not aboue fortie men, and a hundred women and children in the Towne, so that if he would giue the aduenture vppon the same, he might gette a hundredth slaues.”52 This passage, though short, relates the Negro’s structural inhumanity in the eyes of the English subject through its failing to allow blackness the capacity for gender. While he does acknowledge the capacity for the Negro to have a biological sex, either man or woman, his description of the blacks as women is not a gendered distinction based on cultural distinctions; he does not take time to comment on the roles of these women in the tribe and he does not read any “cultural meanings” onto these sexed bodies to attempt to grant them a gender. Instead, his description moves immediately to group both men and women under the ungendered designation of “slaves.” The scribe does not include the number of Negroes or their sex in order to grant them individuality or humanity, but rather the number is given in regard to the humanity of the English. That women and children outnumber men in the town serves only to inform the reader of two things: (1) it lessens the threat of physical violence that the English will face, and (2), it means that fewer Negroes will have to be killed for resisting captivity, thus producing a higher net number of captives. The flesh of the Negro, then, is not read through gendered distinctions between male and female based on cultural distinctions, but rather is constituted through

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

145

violence, both its capability to inflict it and the amount necessary to subdue it. To Hawkins, the distinction of biological sex is not given as an allusion to gender because it exists absent the cultural meanings that allow gender to be read, but rather the distinction between men and women exists to establish the differences in Negro biology as a quotient of violence; for the English subject, the proportion of sexes in a group of Negroes is proportional to the threat of violence the subject faces in their capture. This genderless accounting of Negroes further confirms the inhumanity of blacks by expressing their existence through the grammar of accumulation and fungibility; men and women differ only in the ease of their collecting. Hawkins’s narrative makes no attempt to relate the biological sex of the blacks to the socially and culturally defined genders of the English, but rather eschews the possibility of relationality and maintains the Negroes’ structural existence as always already outside of humanity. The blacks cannot claim a cultural existence as male or female because, for Hawkins and the English, their capacity for culture is precluded by their always already defined existence as “Slave.” The same cannot be said, however, of the Native American tribes encountered on the same voyage; Hawkins’s narrative uses constructions of gender to establish relationality not only within the Native American community, but between the English subject and the newly encountered Native American as well. Hawkins’s narrative distinguishes between men and women based on numerous cultural accoutrements, from clothing to social roles. He remarks that: They goe all naked, the men couering no part of their body but their yard, vpon the which they weare a gourd or piece of cane, made fast with a threede about his loins, leauing the other parts of their members vncouered, whereof they take no shame. The women also vucouered, sauing a cloth which they weare a handbreadth, wherewith they couer their privities both before and behind.53 The description of clothing not only distinguishes between the male and female biologically through the distinction between male “loins” and female “privities,” but it also confirms the capacity for the Native American to have a gendered body comparable to that of the English subject. As established through my reading of Butler, the concept of gender is dependent on the recognition of the body, and gender is “the cultural meanings the sexed body assumes.”54 This passage also confirms the tendency of women-of-color feminism to elide the differences between the subject’s body and the Slave’s flesh. When Hawkins first encounters black Africans and Native Americans, his accounts reveal a clear distinction between the two that uses violence to constitute the black body and differences in culture to constitute and differentiate not only between the English and Native Americans, but between male and female gendered Native American bodies. In the first ontological instance, the black

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

146

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

Africans are denied the rights of agency, will, and consent by being subject to capture and displacement. On the other hand, Hawkins recognizes the subjectivity of the Native American body through the English subject’s existing expectations of gender and shame. Transferring these expectations of shame that the English apply to themselves onto the Native American is an inherent recognition of the Native American’s humanity and establishes their capacity for owning rather than being property by recognizing the Native Americans’ a priori right to claim their bodies as their own. Besides initiating recognition of the gendered Native American body through cultural differences, Hawkins uses existing notions of gendered social roles in England to relate to the Native Americans as humans. While Hawkins’s narrative recognizes male Native Americans through their existing warlike relations with the Spaniards, it is his relating of the feminine gender to the bearing and caring for children that requires particular attention. Hawkins states: The Indian women delight not when they are yong in bearing of children…Moreouer, when they are deliuered of child, they goe straight to washe themselves, without making any further ceremony for it, not lying in bed as our women doe.55 This passage contains two important pieces of evidence concerning the English subject’s perception of the structural position of the Native American. First, Hawkins’s recognizes Native Americans’ capacity for filial relations by acknowledging that the woman and her child share a relationship that is worthy of human recognition, unlike black African Slaves whose children were the property of their masters. We do not see this recognition of filiation in his discussion of the black Africans in the town of Bymba. While he mentions men, women, and children, he makes no mention of these three existing as relations to one another; to Hawkins, the men and women are not recognized as mothers and fathers and the children are not sons and daughters, but rather they are genealogical isolates. The nature of the relationship between the Native American women and their children is described as a potentially emotional bond, even if that emotion is a surprising absence of “delight.” Second, Hawkins claims the Native Americans are not prone to “lying in bed as our women doe” after childbirth. He makes a direct comparison of Native American culture to English culture through the postbirth rituals of the women. Thus Hawkins uses the capacity for a gendered body, and the similar cultural accoutrements associated with those bodies, to establish a direct connection between Native American and English subjectivity. Hawkins never gives blacks the same form of direct cultural comparison as he grants to Native Americans; the possibility of a relationship between blackness and subjectivity does not exist. The incapacity for gender that Hawkins’s narrative expresses in relation to the black is a direct result of black flesh’s incapacity to produce cultural meanings. That the black African,

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

147

in general, is constituted of the same number of appendages and the same shape as the subject’s body does not equal a culturally signified human body. The body of the subject exists spatially as human because of the subject’s ability to lay claim to possession of his body and have his claim to his body recognized by other subjects. This recognition establishes the place of the subject’s body in human civil society. This recognition, however, is a twoway street; being recognized also grants the subject the capacity to recognize others as possessing their bodies. Civil society’s recognition of one’s claim to his own corporeal property incorporates the recognized party into civil society as a subject, with all the rights and privileges contained therein. As the ontological Slave, blackness lacks the capacity to own property, and therefore cannot claim even its body as its own; blackness lacks the capacity to claim possessive individualism. Without the capacity to claim its own body, the black African does not exist as a bodily subject, but rather, in the words of Frank Wilderson, exists as “sentient flesh.” Hawkins does, however, recognize the Native Americans’ claim to their bodies, and this recognition opens them up to the capacity to be the recipient of human affect and empathy. Saidiya Hartman’s Scenes of Subjection argues for the subject’s impossibility to express empathy to the black Slave in antebellum America, but Hawkins’ narrative presents a disparity in the capacity for empathy expressed toward blacks as compared with other new peoples even before institutionalized slavery. Hawkins laments the conquering of the Native Americans by the Spanish because of the peaceful nature of the conquered, stating: The [Indians] bee surely gentle and tractable, and such as desire to liue peaceablie, or else had it bene vmpossible for the Spaniards to haue conquered them as they did, and the more to liue now peacable, they being many in number, and the Spaniards so few.56 Hawkins’s hypocrisy, and the hypocrisy of civil society, is on full display here, as he laments the conquering of the Native Americans while black Africans are still in the hold of his ship. Hawkins recognizes the Native Americans’ subjectivity by acknowledging their desires to be free of the Spaniards and live peacefully. He also laments the Spaniards ignoring these desires and inflicting violence upon a peaceful people. He finds their conquering unnecessary and cannot rationalize the Spaniards’ treatment of the Native Americans. The violence inflicted on black Africans, however, requires no rationalization or consideration as blackness is not capable of evoking empathy within the subject. The violence inflicted by the Spaniards on the Native Americans produces an emotional response in Hawkins that is indicative of a recognition that the violence was inflicted against a subject with a body of his own. Despite the undeniably inhuman treatment of black Africans by all European nations in the slave trade, Hawkins fails to express any form of emotional response to the blacks’ treatment. In fact, he does not

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

148

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

place any sort of value judgment on the actions perpetrated against blackness; the capturing, enslaving, and violence are accepted as business as usual that warrants neither explanation nor rationalization. The impossibility of the subject recognizing blackness’s capacity for possession of a body eliminates the potential for black flesh to elicit an affective response from the subject. The common thread among all of Hawkins’s rhetoric concerning black Africans and Native Americans is that Hawkins’s granted the Native Americans in the first instance ontological considerations never extended to the blacks.

The Furthering of the Human Agenda in Drama The ontological consideration that Hawkins granted to Native Americans is not isolated to Hawkins, but also manifests itself on the Early Modern stage. Although Native Americans do not have the long tradition of representation on the Early Modern English public stage that blacks do,57 the few extant examples of Native Americans appearing in court drama and masques communicate ontological considerations quite similar to those found in the travel journals of John Hawkins that establish the newfound Native American peoples as structurally human beings. According to Tom Berger’s An Index of Characters in Early Modern English Drama: Printed Plays, 1500–1660, the earliest extant example of a Native American character is in George Chapman’s 1613 Masque at Middle Temple, which is dated a full sixty years after Hawkins’s voyages. The heyday of Native Americans on the Early Modern English stage, surprisingly, was during the English Interregnum from 1649 to 1660 after the execution of Charles I, with half of the eight plays with Native American characters appearing during this period.58 The concepts of temporality, property, and familial ties, which both Hawkins and drama apply in relation to Native Americans, are ontological considerations that the English never granted to the black African. In particular, William Davenant’s The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru reveals the manner in which both the staging and the text, in spite of the Native peoples’ recent introduction into English epistemology, recognize and incorporate the Native Americans into human civil society. Davenant’s piece is a private masque entered into the record in 1658, yet his representations of Native Americans and their historical encounters with the Spanish is quite similar to those described in Hawkins. Many features of Davenant’s piece are deserving of particular attention in regard to studies of antiblackness. His play features Native American characters that are in their own homeland, in direct contact and engaged in dialogue with European characters, and moreover, the play comments on one subject’s (the Spanish) violent treatment of another subject (the Incas). The staging of the text independent of the dialogue grants ontological consideration to Native Americans through establishing their existence before and independent of European intervention. Unlike black Africans, who first

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

149

appeared in English drama as silent beasts of burden devoid of a recognized origin or home,59 English dramatists introduced Native Americans on their own soil. Davenant’s play takes place neither in England nor in a fantasy land, but actually in the Natives’ homeland of Peru. Setting the masque on American soil before European intervention establishes the humanity of the Native Americans through three means: the right to property, heritage, and culture. Davenant’s play exhibits the Incas’ right to property through the recognition of their homeland, of the sovereignty of their government, and of the Incan religion. The play opens with the stage direction: An Arch is discern’d rais’d upon stone of Rustick work; upon the top of which is writeen, in an Antique Shield, PERU; and two Antique Shields are fix’t a little lower on the sides, the one bearing the Figure of the Sun, which was the Scutchion of the Incas, who were Emperors of Peru; The other did bear the Spread-Eagle, in signification of the Austrian Family.60 This stage direction gives recognition of both the Incas homeland of Peru and the Inca’s right to inhabit and govern the land before and independent of European intervention. The emblems of the Peruvian and Austrian emperors hang as an equal pair. The argument of Davenant’s play provides a basis for Native American heritage and culture, two concepts that confirm their existence as human subjects prior to European encounters and, in fact, claims that European intervention caused a deterioration of the Incan way of life. The argument reads: The Designe is first to represent the happy condition of the People of Peru antiently, when their inclinations were govern’d by Nature; and then it makes some discov’ry of their establishment under the Twelve Incas, and of the dissentions of the two Sons of the last Inca. Then proceeds to the discov’ry of that new Western World by the Spaniard, which happen’d to be during the dissention of the two Royall Brethren. It then proceeds to the Spaniards Conquest of that Incan Empire, and then discovers the cruelty of the Spaniards over the Indians, and over all Christians (excepting those of their own Nation) who landing in those Parts, came unhappily into their power. And towards the conclusion, it infers the Voyages of the English thither, and the amity of the Natives towards them, under whose Ensignes (encourag’d by a Prophecy of their chief Priest) they hope to be made Victorious, and to be freed from the Yoke of the Spaniard.61 Examining the argument of the play also reveals interesting comparisons and relationality between the Incas and the Spanish and the Incas and the

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

150

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

English, the former through a mirroring of plots in which we see first the Spanish arrival and treatment of the Incas followed by the imagining of the English arrival and treatment of the Incas and the latter through the alliance against a common enemy. The title of the play, The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru, further signifies the Native Americans’ capacity to elicit an effective response in the observing subject that Hawkins introduced in his narrative. In the history of Early Modern England, black Africans did not receive the consideration of human empathy, as evidenced by the commodification of blackness through the slave trade and further theorized by Hartman and others. Blacks were the recipient of inhuman treatment, but this treatment escaped moral and ethical consideration because inhumanity is the natural condition of blackness; cruelty cannot exist absent moral considerations. Native Americans, however new they may be to the English world, while suffering cruel treatment at the hands of Europeans, were not subjected to this treatment without human considerations as were the blacks. The Fifth Entry of the play begins with the stage direction: A Dolefull Pavin is plai’d to prepare the change of the Scene, which represents a dark Prison at great distance; and farther to the view are discern’d Racks, and other Engines of torment, with which the Spaniards are tormenting the Natives and English Mariners…Two Spaniards are likewise discover’d…the one turning a Spit, whilst the other is basting an Indian Prince, which is rosted at an artificiall fire.62 This particular stage direction offers interesting insights into the perceived structural position of Native Americans in relation to subjects of civil society. First, the stage direction positions the Natives and the English as equals through their capacity for torment; the instruments used on one can be used interchangeably on the other to the same effect and, more importantly, the staging places English and Native Americans as equals in relation to empathy. Placing the two side by side on instruments of torment informs the audience that they should feel the same for the two parties. The passage also makes an interesting play with the act of cannibalism. Cannibalism is one of the earliest tropes associated with Native Americans in  both Spanish and English texts. Shirley Lindenbaum’s 2004 article “Thinking About Cannibalism” traces the history of cannibalism in the West, finding the origin of the discourse in the encounter between Europe and the Americas: “the word cannibal is said to be a legacy of Columbus’ second voyage to the Caribbean in 1493.”63 In Hawkins’s narrative, the first land he encounters in the Americas is “the Island of the Cannybals, called Santa Dominica.”64 Although he states that he encountered no cannibals there, the link between Native Americans and cannibalism is more than a rhetorical association, but is an expectation of the New World peoples. Hawkins makes numerous other mentions of cannibals in the New World, and at one point claims to have encountered human remains that were salted and devoured.65

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

151

In this play, however, it is not the Native Americans eating other people, but rather they are being eaten by the Spanish. Although a horrible act, the cannibalization of the Native Americans serves to confirm their subjectivity. As stated, European subjects considered being eaten by Native Americans an act of cannibalism, which in itself is a recognition of the Native Americans’ subjectivity. Cannibalism, by definition, assumes the entity being consumed is of the same species as the entity that is consuming. The notion of Native Americans being cannibals, then, is only half of the recognition equation; their cannibalization of a European subject serves as one way in which the subject recognizes the humanity of the Native Americans. As discussed, to be considered a full human subject, a being not only has to be recognized by others as a subject, but also has to possess the capacity to recognize others as subjects. If the Native Americans’ cannibalism of the subject is a recognition of their subjectivity, then their being cannibalized is one way in which they can reciprocate that recognition. The act of being eaten by the Spanish subject, then, becomes a way for Davenant to stage the Native Americans’ assertion of their subjectivity. Interestingly, European texts included discourse on black Africans eating one another and eating Europeans, but these incidents are not referred to as cannibalism before the American encounter. Early discourse on Africans came from the Elder Pliny’s work, A Summarie of the Antiquities and Wonders of the World, first published in English in 1566, which chronicles the extraordinary types of people that inhabit the interior of Africa; one of these peoples, the Anthropophagus, is described as a headless being that eats its own kind and humans. This text predates the European encounters with the Americas, but does not label this activity cannibalism. By definition, cannibalism is the act of eating one’s own kind, so for the eating of a human being to be cannibalism, the consumer of flesh must also be a human. Failing to refer to cases of black Africans eating one another and eating Europeans as cannibalism, the discourse removes the humanity of one party involved, the black Africans. That black Africans, unlike humans, are not capable of cannibalism establishes cannibalism as a form of human relation, a way to differentiate one group of humans from another. The narrative of the play further establishes the Native American’s ontological status as a non-Slave through two specific acts: marriage and inheritance, both of which are acts that require the recognition of property ownership and are impossible for beings positioned in the Slave ontology. The property relationship inherent in marriage is one of the examples Orlando Patterson uses in Slavery and Social Death when arguing for the Slave’s inability to own property. Marriage places the two parties involved in a mutual property relationship with their spouse through the negotiation of power within the relationship. In the Second Speech of the play, Davenant recognizes that the Incas have wives in the line, “The Incas from their wives must fly!”66 The Third Speech of the play tells the history of the marriage of the last Inca and reveals that the issue of the rights to an inheritance is

152

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

the inciting incident of the conflict between the Incas in the play, a conflict that is resolved through alliances with the Spaniards. The Third Speech of Davenant’s play recounts the history of the last Inca: Intimating the unhappy event of the love of the last Inca; for he (contrary to the custome of all his Royall Ancestors, who always marry’d their own Sisters) had chosen to his Second Wife the beautifull Daughter of an inferior Prince: his Priests and People having always believ’d no blood, lesse distant than that of a Sisters, worthy to mingle with his own propagation of the Emperiall Race. This forraign Beauty so far prevail’d on his passion, that she made him in his age assigne a considerable part of his Dominion to a younger Son, his ancestors never having, during eleven Generations, divided their Empire. This Youth, growing ambitious after his fathers death, invaded his elder Brother at that unfortunate time when the Spaniards, pursuing their Second discovery of the Peruvian Coast, landed, and made a prodigious use of the division of the two Brethren, by proving successful in giving their assistance to the unjust cause of the Younger.67 The speech determines that the elder brother is the rightful heir based on both the history and culture of the Incas. The claim to an inheritance alone is not enough to confirm the humanity of the Incas; the claim must be recognized and acknowledged by other human subjects. The conflict over inheritance is both exacerbated and resolved by the intervention of the Spanish, who support the unjust claim of the younger brother to his elder brother’s inheritance. Although the Spaniards do conquer both Peruvian armies, the conquest is preceded by the Spaniards recognizing one Peruvian’s claim to land over another’s, making the interaction between the Incas and the Spanish a relationship based on the parties’ mutual recognition of the other as human. The acts of marriage and inheritance, and more important, the interculturally recognized right to an inheritance, are a result of Davenant recognizing the property rights and filial relations of the Incas, and thus their human subjectivity. Examining the ontological meditations on Early Modern English conceptions of race through the narrative and rhetorical characteristics of the narrative of John Hawkins’s second voyage and William Davenant’s The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru reveals that the structural rupture between blacks and humans existed in a period in which many scholars argue notions and constructions of race were still being determined. While constructions of race within the realm of humanity were still being determined, the structuring mechanism of race that exists ontologically was already functioning at psychic levels beyond conscious recognition. To the English, both black Africans and Native Americans were newly encountered peoples, but only in the case of Native Americans did the new deserve human consideration and relationality. The commodity value of black Africans became the sole

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

153

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

feature necessary to define and rationalize their existence, an existence that is always already outside the reach of human consideration. As evidenced through both Hawkins and Davenant, the English subject acknowledged the Native Americans’ humanity upon initial encounter by recognizing their right to property, which includes the claims of body, gender, and a culture.

Notes 1. Andrew Hadfield, ed., Amazons, Savages, and Machiavels: Travel and Colonial Writing in English, 1550–1630: An Anthology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001). 2. Stephen Greenblatt, ed., New World Encounters (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993). 3. Michael Householder, Inventing Americans in the Age of Discovery: Narratives of Encounter (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011). 4. Kate Lowe, “The Stereotyping of Black Africans in Renaissance Europe,” in Black Africans in Renaissance Europe, T. F. Earle, ed. (London: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 28–29. 5. Ibid., 32. 6. The first English voyage to the Americas was in 1499, when John Cabot sailed under a commission from Henry VII. The first recorded English encounter with black Africans is Sir Thomas More’s letter in 1501. The first voyage to encounter both Native Americans and black Africans on their native soil came in 1562 with John Hawkins’s first triangular slaving mission. 7. These include Philip Gosse, Sir John Hawkins (London: John Lane and Bodley Head Ltd, 1930); Harry Kelsey, Sir John Hawkins: Queen Elizabeth’s Slave Trader (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003); and Basil Morgan’s entry of Hawkins in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 8. Ian Duffield and Jagdish S. Gundara, eds. Essays on the History of Blacks in Britain (Avebury, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 1992). 9. While Hawkins is not mentioned in the introduction’s chronology of the British slave trade, it does include a narrative from Hawkins in the text. 10. Kenneth Morgan, ed., The British Transatlantic Slave Trade (New York: Routledge Press, 2003), p. xi. 11. Kim F. Hall, Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern Europe (New York: Cornell University Press, 1995), p. 21. Hawkins is only mentioned on three pages of the entire text. 12. Peter Fryer, Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (New South Wales, Australia: Pluto Press Australia Limited, 1984). 13. James Walvin, Black Ivory: Slavery in the British Empire (Hoboken: WileyBlackwell, 2001). 14. Margo Hendricks and Patricia Parker, eds., Women, “Race,” and Writing in the Early Modern Period (New York: Routledge, 1993). 15. David Dabydeen, John Gilmore, and Cecily Jones, The Oxford Companion to Black British History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). 16. Basil Morgan, “Hawkins, Sir John (1532–1595),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). 17. Nick Hazlewood, The Queen’s Slave Trader: John Hawkyns, Elizabeth I, and the Trafficking in Human Souls (New York: Harper Collins, 2004), p. 75.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

154

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

18. Ibid., 143. 19. Kim Hall describes this crest in Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in the Early Modern Period (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995), p. 20. 20. Clements R. Markham, ed., The Hawkins’ Voyages During the Reigns of Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth, and James I (London: printed for the Hakluyt Society, 1878), p. 14. All quotations from Hawkins’s travel journals come from this edition. 21. Frank Wilderson, Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010). 22. Hawkins attributes this civility to interactions with the French. Markham, Hawkins’ Voyages, 14. 23. This was not the case with Moors, as discussed in Chapter Two. The varying attitudes the English has toward Moors and blacks can also be read in Nabil Matar’s Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery. I will show later in this chapter how this was not the case with Native Americans either. 24. Ibid., 17. 25. Ibid. 26. Ibid. 27. Timothy J. Yeager, “Encomienda  or Slavery? The Spanish Crown’s Choice of Labor Organization in Sixteenth-Century Spanish America,” Journal of Economic History, 55.4 (Dec. 1995), p. 842, 845. 28. Markham, Hawkins’ Voyages, 53. 29. Ibid., 52. 30. Ibid., 53. 31. Ibid., 28. 32. Ibid., 14. 33. Hall, Things of Darkness, 2. 34. Ibid., 7. 35. Lynda Boose, “The Getting of a Lawful Race: Racial Discourse in Early Modern England and the Unrepresentable Black Woman,” in Women, “Race,” and Writing in the Renaissance, Margo Hendricks and Patricia Parker, eds. (New York: Routledge, 1993), p. 35. 36. As qtd. in Boose, “The Getting of a Lawful Race,” p. 41. 37. Ibid., 47. 38. While neither Dido nor Cleopatra originated from Africa, their representations in Early Modern England often established them as “other” or Moor based on their geographical dominions in North Africa. Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra mentions Cleopatra’s “tawny front” (1.1.6) where tawny was a term used to describe Moors of North African descent. Dido was also distinguished by her locale and title as Queen of Carthage, present-day Tunisia, and the Early Modern English audiences would have associated her title with aesthetic difference. 39. As qtd. in Hall, Things of Darkness, p. 1. 40. Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 2006), p. xiii–ix. 41. Ibid., 6. My emphasis. 42. Ibid., 33. 43. Grace Hong, The Ruptures Of American Capital: Women of Color Feminism and the Culture of Immigrant Labor (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), p. 63.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Primary Encounters with Subjects and Slaves

155

44. Ibid., 64. 45. Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth Century America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 79. 46. Ibid. 47. Ibid., 80. 48. Ibid. 49. Ibid. 50. Ibid., 84. 51. Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), p. 5. 52. Markham, Hawkins’ Voyages, p. 21. 53. Ibid., 27. 54. Butler, Gender Trouble, 6. 55. Markham, Hawkins’ Voyages, 28. My emphasis. 56. Ibid. 57. Tom Berger’s An Index of Characters in Early Modern English Drama: Printed Plays, 1500–1660 lists only eight different dramatic texts from the period containing characters referred to as “Indians of America,” “Native American,” or “Native.” Of these eight, only one, Philip Massigner’s “The City Madam” (1658) was a commercial drama. The other seven were private or court performances: “Masque of Middle Temple” (1613) by George Chapman, “Masque of Flowers” (1614) by Anonymous, “Masque at the Earl of Somerset’s Marriage” (1614) by Thomas Campion, “The Entertainment at Edinburgh” (1633) by William Drummond, “London’s Triumphs for Richard Chiverton” (1657) by John Tatham, “The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru” (1658) by William Davenant, and “The Marriage of Oceanus and Brittania” (1659) by Richard Flecknoe. Native Americans have a much larger presence on the stage in Restoration Drama. By comparison, the earliest black characters in Early Modern English drama appeared in Marlowe’s Tamburlaine in 1587. 58. See previous note. 59. See the Introduction and Chapter One of this volume. 60. William Davenant, The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru Expressed by Instrumental and Vocal Music, and by Art of Perspective in Scenes, &c. (London: Printed for Henry Herringham, and are to Be Sold at His Shop, 1658), p. 2. 61. Ibid. 62. Ibid., 19. 63. Shirley Lindenbaum, “Thinking About Cannibalism,” Annual Review of Anthropology 33 (2004), p. 477. 64. Markham, Hawkins’ Voyages, 25. 65. Ibid., 51. 66. Davenant, Cruelty of the Spaniards, p. 3. 67. Ibid., 14–15.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

5

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

Despite being one of two well-known Shakespearean characters of color, Aaron from Titus Andronicus has been the focus of much less theoretical scrutiny than his counterpart Othello. This discrepancy is most apparent when it comes to reading the characters to interpret potential Early Modern English constructions of race. While Aaron has been the focus of numerous articles and chapters on race, critical inquiry focused on Othello’s race outnumber those focused on Aaron’s race by a large margin. While I cannot say for certain why this is the case, I can speculate on a few potential reasons for this discrepancy. It could be that the preference for focusing Othello as opposed to Aaron could be the fact that, as a valiant Moor, Othello is a contradiction that lends itself to theoretical scrutiny. With notions of race often tied up in various categories of difference,1 Othello’s status as simultaneously Moorish, non-white, non-Christian, a potential religious convert, and a foreigner both to the English and within the world of the play to the Venetians allows for the examination of the varying intersections of racialized categories that Othello represents. Although Othello is a character who embodies these intersecting categories, much of the scholarship on Othello’s race is written to dispute his color; the text has the potential to be read with the Moor as light- or dark-skinned, with each interpretation allowing for theoretical inquiries into how the Early Modern English read skin color as a racializing factor within the broader context of humanity.2 Shakespeare does not grant scholars the same room for interpretations of Aaron vis-à-vis skin color in Titus Andronicus; as Ania Loomba points out in Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism, “Because Aaron is a textbook illustration for early modern stereotypes of blackness, his skin colour has never been disputed in the same way that Othello’s has.”3 Loomba then continues to read Titus Andronicus as a meditation on how already developed notions of “barbarism, black sexuality, and evil evoked by Aaron mediate newer anxieties about nation, religion, race, and femininity.”4 Although Aaron’s color is rarely the focus of scholarly dispute, the function of his color within the play has been disputed. While Loomba and numerous others argue that Aaron is a representation of Elizabethan stereotypes concerning blackness, Elaine Robinson, in Shakespeare Attacks Bigotry, reads the play as a refutation of black stereotypes and argues that

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

157

Shakespeare was making a political argument to undermine concepts of black inferiority. Robinson argues that Aaron refutes notions of black inferiority through his capacity for interlocution and his filial relationships. She argues that Aaron is the only parent in the play who does not murder his child or order it killed, and that “We can make the case, then, that, in this play about sons, Aaron ironically stands out as the most naturally human and humane, as Shakespeare’s telling attack on the outrageously bigoted myth of white supremacy/black inferiority.”5 Robinson’s interpretation of Aaron as a being that refutes notions of black inferiority is both interesting and problematic. I find that her premise has merit in the context of character relations; Aaron does appear to act more in line with the rules and expectations of civilization than most of the Roman and Goth characters. Her reading, however, focuses solely on character interactions; this focus unfortunately distracts from the ways in which the characters affect the structures of the society in which the play exists. Aaron does act more civil than the Romans and Goths, but Robinson’s interpretation leaves room for discussing how notions of civil are altered in the context of the collapsing civilization in which the play takes place. If we read these two notions, the subverting of black inferiority in the context of a collapsing society, simultaneously, what is revealed is an Aaron who is a theatrical anomaly whose appearance on the stage subverts not only the theatrical conventions of blackness in Early Modern England but also emerging notions of subjectivity. His race, while on the surface a simple matter as argued by Robinson and Loomba, is more problematic than Othello’s when examined through the lens of race as an untransmutable ontological division between blacks and non-blacks and not just an aesthetic difference between blacks and non-blacks. According to Wilderson, within the paradigm of modernity, a Slave cannot become a subject and while subjects can be blackened, they can never truly be a Slave because their existence is defined by loss rather than absence.6 Aaron, however, appears as both a Slave and a subject, thus problematizing notions of a paradigmatic divide between the black Slave and the non-black Master within civil society. I would like to offer a reading of Titus Andronicus that demystifies this apparent contradiction within the character of Aaron and argue that, yes, Aaron does appear as both a Slave and a subject within the play, thus offering at one level the subversion of notions of black inferiority that Robinson argues for. I want to, however, read this subversion within the context of a meta-narrative that also is at play within the text; while the character arc of Aaron begins with him as a black and gaining subjectivity, this arc exists within a world in which Aaron’s transformation to a human subject coincides with the destruction of Roman civil society. That Aaron’s incorporation into civil society coincides with the collapse of that society offers a potentially terrifying reading of the play in which Shakespeare reveals that the Early Modern English epistemology is not a divine truth, but rather a construction, and presents the possibility of a world in which the inhuman

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

158 Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society Aaron is the face of and foundation for a new paradigm that signals the end of emerging English modernity. While Aaron is referred to as a Moor, Shakespeare first presents Aaron in act 1, scene 1, in a manner that aligns him structurally as a being that lacks the privilege of interlocution that the English extended to Moorish Others based on the staging conventions at the time. As discussed in Chapter One, beginning in the 1580s, Early Modern English dramatists began to stage characters who were not only physically darker-skinned, but also inhabited a structural position that lacked the capacity for relationality and thus, in addition to adhering to the Slave ontology, had no method of linguistic communication. When Aaron first appears on stage, he is one of many characters along with Tamora, Chiron, Demetrius, and “others as many as can be”7 who enter as part of a procession of Andronicus’s prisoners. Aaron’s entrance is different from the other prisoners in that he does not get the opportunity to speak. Tamora gives a monologue begging Titus to spare her first-born son. The content of this monologue is important to distinguish between notions of slavery as an experience and Slavery as an ontology: although prisoners of war would often be enslaved after being conquered by Roman armies, this experience of forced labor and captivity is not linked to notions of Slavery as a position of social death. Although Tamora can be read as an enslaved prisoner, she is not positioned as socially dead; not only is she able to speak an appeal to Titus’s civility, thus engaging civil society on its own terms, but also her appeal is based purely in preserving filial ties: she begs Titus to spare her first-born son.8 Tamora’s sons Demetrius and Chiron also get a chance to lament their brother’s death verbally, and Demetrius consoles Tamora through a promise of revenge. I would like to take a moment to examine the notion of revenge as expressed by Demetrius in relation to the Slave ontology. Patterson’s third constituent element of Slavery is that the Slave is subject to gratuitous violence before an act of transgression.9 Although the Goths have committed an act of transgression by engaging in a war with the Romans, even the violence the Romans perpetrated in response to an act of transgression by the Goths is met with the expectation of response. This violent back and forth, although potentially perceived as barbarous (and in fact presented as such by Chiron10), can also be read as a form of interlocution: one side’s violence is met with, and expected to be met with, similar violence. That Demetrius expects revenge in reaction to violence allows us to read the captive Goths as not only not subject to gratuitous violence, but also as interlocutors in civil society. These discrepancies in treatment, then, allow us to read Aaron as different from the other Goth prisoners. Now the question becomes: how does his entrance in Titus Andronicus differ from those of Shakespeare’s two most famous Others, Othello and Shylock? Examining Aaron’s entrance alongside those of Othello and Shylock helps to establish Aaron as a different type of Other than the Moor and the Jew. While Othello, Shylock, and Aaron are all generally assumed to be Others in modern scholarship

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

159

based on skin color, religious, or national difference, Aaron’s separation from the English subject differs from that of Shylock and Othello based on their initial appearance: both Shylock and Othello begin speaking immediately upon entering.11 Aaron enters silent and remains so for more than 400 lines of text. He enters in a way more consistent with the silent black bodies we see in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Peele’s Edward I—as a piece of exotic set dressing that lacks the capacity for interlocution. Shakespeare writes Aaron’s first appearance as a continuation of this trend by making Aaron the only prisoner of the Andronici who remains silent. Tamora, Demetrius, and Chiron are all granted the opportunity to lament the death of their kin, Alarbus. At this point in the play, the character of Aaron lacks any interiority or dimension; his blackness reveals to the audience everything they need to know: that Aaron is a null entity. Shakespeare then explosively subverts the convention of staging blacks as beings absent the capacity for speech by granting Aaron not only the capacity for language at opening of act 2, but also access to a psyche. Aaron’s speech, a soliloquy, demonstrates that he knows the speech patterns of and cultural heritage of Shakespeare’s society. He speaks in verse and uses classical allusions. Catherine Belsey argues in The Subject of Tragedy that soliloquies are a method of asserting a character’s subjectivity.12 In addition to this, soliloquy tends to invite the audience’s complicity and sympathy. Aaron is the only character in the play to speak a soliloquy, an interesting choice by Shakespeare in this case because it gives Aaron the capacity for speech, but allows him to first display this capacity while not in the presence of other characters. If we read Aaron as an abject black, it makes sense that, by lacking the capacity for interlocution with the civil society on the stage, his first speech would not complete the cycle of expression and reception that establishes interlocution: he expresses himself, but no one is around to receive his transmission…except the audience. Aaron’s subjectivity is presented as a proposition to those watching the play before it is established to those inside of the play. This is an interesting moment of audience engagement that can be read as a potential moment of subverting black inferiority: if we agree with Greenblatt’s notion of the stage circulating social energy, the idea of a black character engaging with civil society within a play presented in an English paradigm in which that should be an impossibility would first need to be accepted by the audience so that what occurs on the stage could be read. In other words, Aaron has to speak to the audience to show that he, as a black man, can engage with subjects, an action counter to the rules of the civil society in which the play exists, before engaging with subjects in the play.

Joining Absence and Presence into Semiotic Dissonance I will continue to further discuss how the character of Aaron is a theatrical anomaly, but I now wish to place the anomaly of Aaron into the larger

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

160 Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society context of Titus Andronicus as a whole existing as a theatrical anomaly. While many of Shakespeare’s other works have enjoyed consistent production histories since their premiere in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries, Titus Andronicus has, for the most part, escaped the Shakespeare-mania that has caused his works to be translated into any and all potential media, with only Julie Taymor’s 1999 film adaptation standing out among the few important contributions to its performance history. While the play has seen a resurgence in the past twenty years or so, the lack of performance and reimagining of Titus Andronicus as a whole mirrors the disproportionate scholarly material on Aaron when compared with Othello. While many of Shakespeare’s plays are met with near universal acclaim, Titus Andronicus has a more divisive reputation, with critics often describing the play with confusion or disdain. After the Restoration, productions of Titus Andronicus were met with disgust by critics, dismissing the play as “an accumulation of vulgar physical horrors”13 and the “singularly faulty… product of a playwright who was never again to write so badly.”14 As early as the seventeenth century, its most successful adaptor dubbed the original text “a heap of Rubbish,”15 as late as the twentieth century, T.S. Eliot declared it to be “one of the stupidest and most uninspired plays ever written.”16 This overwhelming critical disgust led to the play’s almost complete removal from the stage, appearing rarely except in adapted form until the twentieth century. In 1955, Peter Brook staged one of the most important twentieth-century productions of Titus Andronicus at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The production received rave reviews, many of which focused on his particular method of performing acts of violence and their consequences. Many reviews cited the ritualistic and formal manner of Brook’s staging of violence, which Jack E. Reese sums up in his 1970 article “The Formalization of Horror in Titus Andronicus:” That manner, as many reviewers pointed out, was highly formal— at times, even stylized. As one observer said, “It was as if the actors were engaged in a ritual at once fluent from habitual performance and yet still practised with concentrated attention. There was something puppet-like about them.”17 Reese responded to these reviews with the argument that Shakespeare intended the “formalization” of the violence when he wrote the text, writing, Many readers, I believe, have dismissed the play as an immature exercise in sensationalism because they have failed to recognize certain highly formal elements in the play which subdue (or “abstract”) the horror, especially in the stage version which Shakespeare conceived.18 Reese’s argument reveals one of the problems of this play: it presents ideas in ways that are simultaneously highly formal and highly abstract.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

161

This paradoxical relationship between the formal and the abstract in Titus Andronicus extends to elements of the play beyond the violence for which Brook’s staging gained so much acclaim. Reese argues that the play is entirely dependent upon creating distance between the symbolism in the performance and the audience’s expectations of those symbols; in other words, by creating scenes whose signifiers vary from their expected referents. One of Reese’s examples focuses on the repeated act of kneeling19 in the play, for which he argues: The ironic effect of this repetition is very strong: the audience quickly senses that the repeated tableaux of kneeling figures signify, not piety and respect, as might be expected, but rejected pleas for mercy and justice, vain prayers to indifferent gods, barbaric perversions of solemn rites, and frightening reminders of previous outrages…In other words, these scenes help to create the sense of moral and spiritual desolation which dominates the play. The tableaux also help to “formalize the horror”. The repetition of very obvious motifs or themes—visual or verbal—tends, of course, to make a play more artificial. The characters become less like human beings and more like symbols being manipulated in an excessively orderly framework, and the carefully planned stage “pictures” freeze the characters into symbolic groupings.20 He argues that the tableau of kneeling is a signifier disconnected from its expected referent to create a sense of artificiality that distances the audience from the violence. While I find his reading of these motifs interesting, I wish to examine this from another angle: how can we read the performance as going deeper than just distancing the audience from violence? The distancing to which he refers, or as he calls it “abstraction,” occurs not just in the Brooks’s staging of the play, but exists within the play itself and is experienced by the characters as well. I argue that the abstraction Reese reads is a result of the text’s challenging the established semiotic system of civil society, resulting in numerous instances of the disruption of the signifier/referent relationship, a phenomenon I call “semiotic dissonance.” Semiotic dissonance occurs when a subject expresses a signifier that relates to an unexpected or unknown referent. If the symbolic order is based on notions of absence and presence as argued by Jacques Lacan, then an event combining these two notions into one would throw the entirety of the symbolic order into disarray; all signifiers would lose the connection to their referent, challenging not only meanings, but the concept of meanings. The text and staging of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus includes an event that combines presence and absence in the character of Aaron, a black character who at the beginning of the play fulfills the criteria for absence and then later presents the ontology of the incorporated subject. Ayanna Thompson’s Performing Race and Torture addresses Aaron’s linguistic and rhetorical

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

162 Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society dexterity in arguing that his appropriation and deploying of language is a form of miscegenation that confirms his presence.21 I wish to offer a different reading of Aaron’s interlocution. Miscegenation implies an interbreeding, a blending of varying semiotic systems. Aaron, however, does not introduce his own language to the play, but rather appropriates the language of the other characters. His appropriation of language coincides with its faltering for other characters. Reading the black body through Wilderson’s argument that it lacks the capacity for spatiality22 in modernity allows us to read Aaron’s newfound capacity for interlocution as an event that, instead of blending two semiotic systems, desegregates the divide between absence and presence as mutually exclusive concepts. The disruption of notions of absence and presence that begin in Aaron then disrupts the symbolic order of Roman society within the play. Titus Andronicus positions Aaron’s incorporation as coinciding with and the possible cause of the failure of semiotic structures within the civil society of Rome. By becoming an interlocutor, Aaron is a being that should not exist; he is a Slave that has become a subject. As Aaron transforms from the a priori abject into a recognized subject, as he moves between the previously mutually exclusive positions that define civil society, the symbolic order that defines civil structures is destabilized. So instead of creating a linguistic miscegenation, he creates semiotic dissonance, a disruption of recognized signifier/referent relationships. By analyzing specific interactions between Aaron and other characters within the play, we can read how Titus Andronicus presents the incorporation of blacks into civil society as the impetus for its collapse. With Aaron’s transformation from abject to subject being completed, his appearance becomes a structural anomaly that problematizes and disrupts the boundaries and definition of the civil society. Numerous interactions between Aaron and other characters within the text reveal the ways in which relationships between signifiers and referents—specifically as they relate to violence, filiation, and sanity— become unhinged when confronted with Aaron’s newfound presence.

The Life of a Hand: Semiotic Dissonance in Aaron’s Violent Acts Titus Andronicus is a play that is full of, and perhaps most well-known for, its immensely violent acts. Yet, the violence in the play has rarely, if ever, been contextualized and examined through theories of violence as a constituent element of a racialized existence. In other words, I want to look at how the violent acts in Titus Andronicus work to reveal Early Modern constructions of race, subjectivity, and civil society. Contemporary AfroPessimism engages violence as the constituting force of the Slave’s existence, and one’s subjectivity can help to be defined through the being’s relationship to violence.23 While subjects and Slaves can both be the target of violence, Patterson positions “the necessity or the threat of naked force as the basis of the master-slave relationship,” and through numerous examples articulates

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

163

the view “that the master-slave relationship originated in and was maintained by brute force.”24 Wilderson goes further when applying this theory to the black, and argues that one’s relationship to violence is constitutive of that being’s ontology, stating that in modernity “black people themselves serve a vital function as the living markers of gratuitous violence.”25 The Slave also lacks the capacity for resisting the violence of a master, as Patterson states “the slave was usually powerless in relation to another individual[;]…the most distinct attribute of a slave’s powerlessness was that it always originated…as a substitute for death, usually violent death.”26 With this in mind, we return to the Slave Aaron. Aaron’s first verbal interaction with other characters results in the altering of notions of violence as it relates to subjectivity. As discussed, the Slave is subject to gratuitous violence before an act of transgression. Aaron, once he becomes a subject, influences Demetrius and Chiron into committing an act of violence against Titus and Lavinia by mutilating Lavinia and murdering her lover Bassianus. Robinson reads this scene as proof of Shakespeare’s pro-black agenda, arguing: Immediately following Aaron’s soliloquy, Tamora’s two sons enter, arguing with much bravado, and Aaron prevents them from killing each other over a natural emotion for which neither has the capacity: love. They each claim to love Lavinia. The younger brother, Chiron, says, “I love Lavinia more than all the world.” To which Demetrius states, “Youngling, learn thou to make some meaner choice./ Lavinia is thine elder brother’s hope.” It’s amazing how quickly, with a mere suggestion, love turns to rape. Not that the masters are bound or likely to follow the advice of a slave, but, with a reference to Lucrece, who, after being raped, told her husband, and then committed suicide, Aaron suggests the brothers rape Lavinia (“strike her home by force, if not by words,/ This way or not at all stand you in hope”). He adds: There are woods, ruthless, dreadful, deaf, and dull. There speak and strike, brave boys, and take your turns. There serve your lust, shadowed from heaven’s eye And revel in Lavinia’s treasury (2.2.128–132). Then later, once hounds and horse announce the royal hunt, Demetrius says to Chiron: We hunt not we with horse nor hound, But hope to pluck a dainty doe to ground all exit.27 While I agree with the notion that Aaron displaying his capacity for interlocution does seem to subvert notions of black inferiority, my problems with Robinson’s analysis are numerous. First, Robinson assumes that Demetrius and Chiron lack the capacity for love. I argue that the characters’ display of lament after their brother’s death and their willingness to fight for their

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

164 Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society mother’s honor refute that claim. Second, she argues that the sons listening to Aaron, or the white men and Masters listening to the black man and Slave, proves that Shakespeare was combatting notions of white supremacy. She ignores that the black man is steering the white men away from love and toward rape, away from establishing subject relations and toward violence. With this in mind, I offer a reading of this scene that lays bare the paradigmatic implications of Aaron’s interlocution. In act 2, scene 2, Demetrius and Chiron begin to quarrel over which one should have the right to Lavinia. Aaron first attempts to intervene by reminding the brothers that Lavinia is both betrothed and honorable; he offers them the warning: Why, lords, and think you not how dangerous It is to jet upon a prince’s right? What, is Lavinia then become so loose, Or Bassianus so degenerate, That for her love such quarrels may be broach’d Without controlment, justice, or revenge? Young lords, beware! and should the empress know This discord’s ground, the music would not please.28 This warning, however, also reads as a threat, not just against their persons but their subjectivity. Aaron refers to all three constituent elements of the Slave ontology. He first reminds the brothers of the dangers of statecontrolled violence by remarking on the danger of violating the prince’s right. Second, he acknowledges notions of honor in commenting on Bassianus’s position in society and Lavinia’s maidenhood, implying that an attack on Lavinia would be an affront to notions of honor. Finally, he invokes the boys’ mother, alluding to the fact that violence against Lavinia would anger Tamora and challenge the boys’ familial bond with their mother. Aaron’s warning is met with an unexpected result as the brothers inform him that, despite their earlier arguing over her love, they do not wish to enter into a relationship with Lavinia, but that their desire is purely physical. Aaron solves their quarrel by proposing that “both should speed”29 and devises a plan that will allow them to satisfy their physical desires while simultaneously removing the threat of their exile from civil society that would result from killing a brother and severing a blood relationship. In this moment, Aaron’s role switches from being the voice of reason and caution to the driving force of the narrative. As Vernon Guy Dickson argues: Repeatedly, we see Aaron instructing Chiron and Demetrius in what is appropriate and in how to act, such as when he manipulates their rivalry over Lavinia to cause her brutal rape and mutilation. Later, he specifically takes credit as ‘‘their tutor to instruct them’’ in their ‘‘bloody mind.30

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

165

While Aaron himself is not directly involved in Lavinia’s rape, his work in this scene perverts the nature of violence within the subject/Slave paradigm: instead of gratuitous violence being a one-directional enterprise that the subject inflicts upon the Slave, Aaron is able to redirect gratuitous violence onto a subject. Aaron uses his position as a being who has transversed the subject/Slave divide to control violence: first by stopping a violent act from occurring between two brothers and then to redirect that violence onto Lavinia in a manner that is a direct assault on her subjectivity. While Lavinia’s rape is a horrendous act of violence on her body, it is an act that alters her capacity for interlocution. Instead of killing Lavinia, Demetrius and Chiron, on Aaron’s command, remove her hands and tongue, destroying her ability to be a functioning participant in civil society. She no longer has the capacity to communicate signifiers or referents that hold any meaning to others, but rather is reduced to an unknown and incommunicable language Shakespeare describes as the “scrowl.”31 Mary Laughlin Fawcett offers a theory about Lavinia’s scrowls in her 1983 essay “Arms/Words/ Tears: Language and the Body in Titus Andronicus,” arguing: See how with signs and tokens she can scrowl.” The speaker, Demetrius, and his brother Chiron have just raped and mutilated Lavinia in Shakespeare’s early tragedy, Titus Andronicus (2.4.5). We are directed to observe the body with all its violations, both seen and unseen: “Enter … LAVINIA, her hands cut off, and her tongue cut out, and ravish’d.” Looking back on this once-desirable woman, whom he has now changed into an object of wonder and terror, Demetrius invents a word for the new language she embodies: scrowl. Lavinia’s “signs” are more than scowls or scolds, while her “tokens” are less than, or different from, scrawls or scrolls. His quibble locates an area of language that is not spoken and not written, not closed and not open, not syntactical and yet not meaningless.32 By referencing both the “seen and unseen” and positioning Lavinia’s scrowls as a “new language,” Fawcett is signaling that Lavinia’s rape is to be read as an attack not solely on her body, but on her subjectivity. Demetrius and Chiron, on orders from Aaron, remove Lavinia’s capacity for interlocution. Aaron transforms Lavinia, who began as a full interlocutor in civil society, into both a spectator and a victim in civil society. As a spectator and victim, her participation in civil structures becomes limited; she can observe the world, but can no longer bear witness. He transforms her from an interlocutor in civil society to one outside the system of semiotic reciprocation or, in other words, he uses his newfound capacity for interlocution to destroy the subjectivity of another; he uses his newfound “whiteness” to bestow a form of temporary blackness on Lavinia. Aaron distorts notions of violence by making its targets throughout the play not just the body of characters, but their subjectivity as well.

166 Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

My argument aligns with Fawcett’s here, but I couch my argument in terms of subjectivity while Fawcett argues on grounds of theatricality. She argues that Lavinia no longer has a place in society in the narrative or in the narrative itself: she is no longer capable of being an actor and also cannot be a member of the audience: …her muteness places her in the situation of the audience of the play: knowing what has happened, possessing both seed and names, and condemned to watch others fumble toward her truth. Yet she cannot quite become an audience (she has no hands with which to clap); she must remain the disputed territory around which the other characters anxiously hover.33 Lavinia becomes, then, the representation of shattered notions of subjectivity. With Aaron’s incorporation and her exile both occurring through their altered relationship to semiotic structures, the non-black/black divide of civil society ruptures, thus throwing into disarray notions of language, violence, family, and honor. In addition to destroying Lavinia’s subjectivity by removing her hands and tongue, Aaron deploys violence to attack another character’s subjectivity by removing Titus’s hand. With the link between hands, language, and notions of subjectivity already revealed in the ravishing of Lavinia, the severing of Titus’s hand can be read similarly as an attack on both the character’s body and his subjectivity, although through different means. Analyzing the narrative functions of Titus’s hand reveals numerous ways in which the appendage is more than a body part, but is also the foundation upon which he and other characters define their notions of honor, filial relations, and homeland. Acts Titus commits with his hands (and acts performed upon his hands) are the means through which he establishes and others recognize his position in civil society. While hands (or the lack of hands) are a recurring theme in the play, Titus, more than any other character in the play, is defined by his hands: of the eighty-plus times hands are referenced in Titus Andronicus, more than thirty of these refer to Titus. Throughout the play, characters often address Titus’s hands rather than the whole man, allowing his hands to symbolize both his personal honor and his social status. In act 1, scene 1, Saturninus uses Titus’s hands as a surrogate for his honor, stating, “Full well, Andronicus,/ Agree these deeds with that proud brag of thine,/ That said’st I begg’d the empire at thy hands.”34 Saturninus specifically places Titus’s hands as the locus of Titus’s power; the love the Roman people have for Titus, which grants him a voice in determining who will control the empire, is due to his ability to use his hands in combat. Furthermore, when confirming Titus as the people’s choice for emperor, Marcus does not mention Titus’s ability to lead, but rather focuses on his “arms,” mentioning them three times in his speech.35 While this may simply be an accidental repetition, I wish to read the repeated mention of Titus’s arms as a signal

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

167

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

of where power is contained within society. In act 3, scene 1, Marcus and Lucius continue to signal to the powers contained in hands when debating who shall give their hand to Aaron in exchange for Titus’s sons, with the exchange: Lucius: Stay, father! for that noble hand of thine, That hath thrown down so many enemies, Shall not be sent: my hand will serve the turn: My youth can better spare my blood than you; And therefore mine shall save my brothers’ lives. Marcus: Which of your hands hath not defended Rome, And rear’d aloft the bloody battle-axe, Writing destruction on the enemy’s castle.36 Titus himself links his hands to his honor and addresses them in an odd manner, referring to them simultaneously as bodies parts that he possesses and separate entities that operates with their own agency. In act 3, scene 1, upon seeing Lavinia, Titus proclaims, “Give me a sword, I’ll chop off my hands too/ For they have fought for Rome, and all in vain.”37 Later in the scene after his hand is removed, Titus pleads, “Good Aaron, give his majesty my hand:/ Tell him it was a hand that warded him/ From thousand dangers.”38 Much like Marcus and Lucius, in this scene, Titus uses his hands as a surrogate for his action in battle, referring to his hands rather than himself as the entity that fought for Rome. With his honor being established in battle, then in conjunction with the lines given previously, we can read his hands as both the source and locus of Titus’s honor and status in Rome. Titus’s hand is also linked to notions of filiation, as he uses his hand to both sever filial relations and bestow fatherly blessings. The first mention of hands in the play comes in act 1, scene 1, and, interestingly, occurs in an interaction between Lavinia and Titus, the two characters for whom hands have the most narrative function. Upon witnessing Titus’s return to Rome, Lavinia combines mourning for the loss of her brothers with seeking a blessing from her father; she attempts to confirm her filial relations from her father at a moment when she is suffering a loss of relations. In Lavinia’s first speech, she states, “O, bless me here with thy victorious hand, Whose fortunes Rome’s best citizens applaud!”39 These two lines call to Titus’s hands for confirmation of the father/daughter filial relation as well as to connect his hands to honor in Roman society. These same hands, however, soon come to function as a means to sever the filial relations they recently confirmed. Through a series of betrayals— Lavinia betraying her father’s promise to Saturninus, Bassianus asserting his right to Lavinia against Titus’s wishes, and Mutius betraying Titus by denying him—Titus comes to sever the already conflicted relationship with

168 Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Mutius through filicide. When Mutius attempts to bar Titus’s pursuit of Lavinia and those who have “surprised” her, Titus murders Mutius. The same hands that have defended Rome and confirmed his status as Lavinia’s father have now acted to sever the father/son bond. After Mutius’s death, Titus disavows both Mutius and his other sons: Lucius: My lord, you are unjust, and, more than so, In wrongful quarrel you have slain your son. Titus Andronicus: Nor thou, nor he, are any sons of mine; My sons would never so dishonour me: Traitor, restore Lavinia to the emperor.40 So, in the space of just a few lines, Titus uses two different physical tools to sever filial relations: his hands and his voice. The primary difference between the two is in the permanence of the consequences; the murder of Mutius results in a permanent severing of the father/son bond while the disavowal allows for the potential of reconciliation between father and son that occurs between Titus and Lucius. So while Titus may speak of severing the father/son bond, his hands are the means through which the act of severing becomes permanent. With the numerous narrative and dramatic meanings already linked to Titus’s hands, the act of severing said hand, then, is not just an attack on Titus’s body, but on notions of subjectivity. By severing the hand, Aaron is challenging the foundation of Titus’s notions of filiation and honor. Returning to act 3, scene 3, Aaron enters pretending to be an emissary of Saturninus, requesting the hand of one of the Andronici, either Titus, Marcus, or Lucius, in exchange for the two who are currently imprisoned, Martius and Quintus. Upon entering, Aaron makes the following promise: Titus Andronicus, my lord the emperor Sends thee this word,—that, if thou love thy sons, Let Marcus, Lucius, or thyself, old Titus, Or any one of you, chop off your hand, And send it to the king: he for the same Will send thee hither both thy sons alive; And that shall be the ransom for their fault.41 Aaron’s anomalous position as a black subject allows him the capacity not only to understand the subjects’ semiotic system, but to exploit it as well. In a vacuum, requesting a hand in exchange for two lives is curious; what need does Aaron or the emperor have for a disembodied hand? When analyzed with regard to the semiotics of the hand that the text establishes, however, it reveals that Aaron is requesting that one of the Andronici relinquish not just his hand, but his subjectivity. Aaron’s request is then read as an attempt

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

169

to subvert the borders of subjectivity by reversing a subject’s structural position. If we read being “generally dishonored” as a constituent element of social death, Aaron’s request that Titus surrender his hand, which is directly linked to his honor, is akin to asking Titus to surrender part of his subjectivity. The text creates a world where, for Titus, giving up a hand is a greater sacrifice than giving up his life. Rather than allow Titus the chance to sacrifice his life for his sons and thus dying an honorable death, Aaron demands that Titus give up the capacity for honor and filial relations that are contained in his hand. By demanding Titus’s hand, Aaron is attempting to disrupt the notions of honor and filiation that are the foundation of the paradigm that previously excluded him. Titus, however, attempts to alleviate the ontological turmoil caused by Aaron’s dismembering of Titus’s and Lavinia’s bodies. If we read the capacities for interlocution and honor as necessary for one’s inclusion in civil society, then Aaron has successfully altered Titus’s and Lavinia’s relationship to civil society. Lavinia loses the ability to speak and write, the two primary modes of communication in the play, by losing her tongue and hands. Titus’s hands are linked to his honor, so a loss of one is a loss of both. Titus seems to recognize the damage that has been done to their ability to participate fully in civil society, and makes a distorted attempt to restore Lavinia’s place by placing his severed hand in Lavinia’s mouth. As Fawcett argues, “From one point of view, the severed hand seems like a continuation and an enlargement (almost an erection) of the tongue-root; the hand completes the tongue. Language is thus manipulation—a handling of a tongue.”42 This attempt fails, however, because the structure has failed; the semiotics of language and body, voice and tongue, no longer hold meaning. Titus attempts to recreate the connection with disparate parts of two separate semiotic relationships that are tangentially related and mutually exclusive; a severed hand no longer retains the capacity for interlocution through writing, and is also a poor replacement for a severed tongue. Once Aaron exercises his capacity for interlocution, he uses this capacity to perpetrate acts of violence not only against subjects, but also against their subjectivity. Lavinia’s ravishing removes both her honor and her capacity for interlocution; without hands and a tongue, she can neither speak nor write. As in the case of Lavinia, removing Titus’s hand is an attack not only on Titus’s physical person, but on his status as a subject. Titus, then, becomes a manifestation of semiotic dissonance in that he becomes a subject that exists in an incomplete relationship to the constituent elements of his subjectivity. Removing Lavinia’s hands attacked her subjectivity by removing her capacity for interlocution; Titus’s subjectivity changes, on the other hand, because losing his hand alters his relationship to the constituent elements of Slavery.

Restructuring the Family: The Semiotics of False Filiation To further examine how Aaron alters and destabilizes the bounds of civil society in the play, I want to turn to how Aaron creates semiotic dissonance

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

170 Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society with the signifier/referent relationship of notions of filiation. While he does have a son with Tamora late in the play, I wish to discuss first how Aaron manipulates the notion of filiation so that his child can be recognized. In the play, Shakespeare first presents Aaron as a being without a homeland. Even though Aaron enters as a prisoner of the Andronici, he is clearly not a Goth. The audience is given no means by which to trace his ancestral descent because the play makes no mention of his parents, siblings, national origin, or any other relevant information that would allow assumptions about his past. He first gains filial relations not by the existing methods within civil society (i.e., marriage or having a child), but instead he manipulates the structures of filiation through his control of language, which allows him to appropriate the heritage of the Romans. In his first soliloquy, Aaron engages in classical allusions and positions himself in Roman heritage through metaphors. Aaron’s soliloquy reads as an outline of his plans to “wanton” with Tamora: Now climbeth Tamora Olympus’ top, Safe out of fortune’s shot; and sits aloft, Secure of thunder’s crack or lightning flash; Advanced above pale envy’s threatening reach. As when the golden sun salutes the morn, And, having gilt the ocean with his beams, Gallops the zodiac in his glistering coach, And overlooks the highest-peering hills; So Tamora: Upon her wit doth earthly honour wait, And virtue stoops and trembles at her frown. Then, Aaron, arm thy heart, and fit thy thoughts, To mount aloft with thy imperial mistress, And mount her pitch, whom thou in triumph long Hast prisoner held, fetter’d in amorous chains And faster bound to Aaron’s charming eyes Than is Prometheus tied to Caucasus. Away with slavish weeds and servile thoughts! I will be bright, and shine in pearl and gold, To wait upon this new-made empress. To wait, said I? to wanton with this queen, This goddess, this Semiramis, this nymph, This siren, that will charm Rome’s Saturnine, And see his shipwreck and his commonweal’s.43 In this monologue, however, Aaron is not only appropriating the language of the subject but manipulating the structures of the language by toying with semiotics. His use of metaphors blurs the lines between humanity, mythology, and divinity, so that Tamora is not only the human empress, but a

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

171

mythological figure as well. He continually describes Tamora through metaphors and classical allusions, calling her “nymph,” “siren,” “Semiramis,” and “goddess.” The merging of reality and metaphors in the soliloquy gives his plan a double meaning; not only is he attempting to gain control of the system of affiliation through a relationship with the empress, he is also looking to subvert notions of filiation by inserting himself into Roman heritage through sexual relationships with Tamora and the classical figures she represents. That he is able to plead his case to the audience as opposed to other characters not only allows him to influence the narrative, but also grants him the power to influence the conditions in which the performance exists. By talking to the audience, he travels outside the story to redefine the conditions of filiation within the story; in other words, he uses this soliloquy to insert himself and Tamora into Roman history, thus altering the history with which his audience would be familiar. By inserting himself into this rewritten mythology and history, he is declaring himself a descendent of himself; he simultaneously exists on stage and in history. Communicating the terms of his filiation directly to the audience allows him to subvert the definition of civil society that appears on stage by expanding the recognized structure of filiation; instead of relying on blood relations to establish filiation, he subverts the semiotics of filial relations by refashioning his own through his control of language. Although Aaron attempts to establish filial relations through his control of language, these relations are false within the established bounds of civil society. It then becomes necessary for Aaron to reconstruct the semiotics of filiation in a way that of establishes the capacity for filial relations for the black Slave, which becomes important later in the play with the birth of his son. Aaron is not recognized as a person in Roman society, which means that he can have no recognized relationship to offspring and no property rights. As Frank Wilderson argues, the “homosocial bond between black ‘fathers’ and black ‘sons’ is mythical”44 and does not occur elsewhere in the canon of Shakespeare and, to my knowledge, Early Modern English drama. The child, under the conditions of civil society, should be the sole property of the subject, in this case the mother, and even after she disavows her claim, a Slave, such as Aaron, would not have a claim to the child. Aaron, however, makes the mythical homosocial bonds between father and son that are an impossibility for the black a reality in the world of the play. According to the bounds of civil society, Aaron’s relationship to his son should not be recognized in two ways: the father/son bond is outside of the capacity of black men, and blacks are not recognized as human by civil society. That other characters simultaneously recognize the mixed-race child’s relation to Tamora, which recognize him as a subject, and his relation to Aaron, which should be an impossibility, allows us to read Aaron’s son as an instance of semiotic dissonance. Despite being fathered by a character who began the play as an ontological Slave and has appropriated his subjectivity primarily through control of language, Aaron’s child possesses subjectivity

172 Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

as his birthright. His birth transverses the expected results of miscegenation in two ways: first, based on physical descriptions in the text, the child shares no characteristics with his mother, only the father, who claims the child as his; second, the child is nonetheless recognized as a subject. When the child is first introduced, the Nurse and Aaron have a brief exchange describing it: Nurse: A joyless, dismal, black, and sorrowful issue: Here is the babe, as loathsome as a toad Amongst the fairest breeders of our clime: The empress sends it thee, thy stamp, thy seal, And bids thee christen it with thy dagger’s point. Aaron: ’Zounds, ye whore! is black so base a hue? Sweet blowse, you are a beauteous blossom, sure.45 In addition to this passage, Aaron also refers to the child as “coal-black”46 and “black slave.”47 These descriptions work to position the son solely as Aaron’s child; along with removing the child from the mother’s care, the play completely removes the child from any connection to its mother, Tamora. The two never appear onstage together, but their relationship (or lack thereof) is merely spoken about. Shakespeare presents the child as the product of a conflict between social and natural reality; in society, the subject and the Slave should not procreate, because one is part of society and the other is socially dead. But by having Tamora and Aaron produce a child against the rules of society, Shakespeare is calling to attention that society is not divine, but is in fact a mutable construction. He is introducing a potentially terrifying proposition: the idea that perhaps Aaron and his child are not only the impetus for the collapse of the world as they know it, but are perhaps the face of a new world. Considering the constituent elements of Slavery, it is clear that for Aaron’s child, subjectivity is his birthright. In a play rife with the death of children, Aaron’s child is not subject to gratuitous violence; in fact, the child is not subject to any violence at all, being one of the few survivors at the close of the play. Surprisingly, based on Aaron’s initial appearance as a detached figure with no known origin, with the birth of his child, Aaron suddenly lays claim to a homeland to which he hopes to escape with his child,48 a revelation that, for the first time, challenges Aaron and his child’s natal alienation. Also, the “black slave” child enters the world with recognized filial relations, through which he is granted the capacity for property rights; as Patterson argues The fact that we tend not to regard “free” human beings as objects of property—legal things—is merely a social convention. To take the most obvious example, an American husband is part of the property of the wife … in actual and sociological terms a wife has all sorts of claims, privileges, and powers in the person, labor power, and earnings of her husband.49

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

173

This definition of the property relation extends to the father/son bond between Aaron and his child; through each other, they are granted the capacity to have their filial claims to each other honored, although for Aaron, unlike his son, this privilege was not a birthright. With this evidence in mind, it is hard to argue that the use of “slave” is an accident. By referring to this child who is ontologically a subject by the signifier slave, Aaron is announcing the semiotic dissonance of the moment; the child, which an undisrupted symbolic order would dictate be born a Slave, is born a subject; this subject, however, is labeled a slave. In labeling the child a slave, Aaron is hailing the child’s incapacity for Slavery, thus announcing the final death knell for the civil society that existed at the beginning of the play. With the birth of Aaron’s child, the paradigmatic referents of presence and absence that construct the symbolic order exist in a single locus. With the foundation of the symbolic order challenged, signifiers and referents still exist, but the play can no longer maintain established relationships between the two, rendering both simultaneously meaningless and redefinable. The recognition of the filial bond between Aaron and his “black slave” child scandalizes notions of filiation and relationality within the symbolic order, shifting both into a state of semiotic dissonance by disrupting the nature of subjectivity itself: if the Slave can now be born a subject, then how does one know what is a subject? The collapse of civil society, however, is most evident in the final couplet of the play, spoken by Lucius: “Then, afterwards, to order well the state,/ That like events may ne’er ruinate.”50 The events to which he is referring are not the mass slaughter of subjects and the destruction of systems of affiliation, but rather, as he reveals in the two lines before the couplet, Aaron’s incorporation: “See justice done on Aaron, that damn’d Moor,/ By whom our heavy haps had their beginning.”51 The play’s resolution is a false resolution; while the narrative concerning Titus is wrapped up, the play ends with Lucius acknowledging the collapse of civil structures and the necessity for rebuilding. Lucius is not seeking justice for the murders that occurred, but rather for the acts of Aaron, who still lives. Before rebuilding civil society, whose existence in modernity is predicated on the ontological death of the black, Lucius must enact the physical death of the black. The play ends before his death, however, perhaps signaling that black incorporation is something that can be neither undone nor progressed from in any knowable way. The final thought of the play, then, is not to offer a plan for rebuilding society, but rather to place the blame for the collapse of civil structures onto the shoulders of Aaron’s incorporation.

Interpreting Insanity: Semiotic Dissonance as Madness Having established the failures of the symbolic order caused by Aaron in the play, we can then read Titus’s insanity as symptomatic of his inability to decipher the shifting semiotic structures of civil society. The linking of Titus’s language to his state of mind is not new, but the analysis has been

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

174 Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society made primarily through his use of rhetorical tools. Cheryl Hogue Smith, in her 2009 article, “No Reason Without Rhyme: Rhetorical Negotiation in Shakespeare,” argues that, as Titus begins to lose his sanity, his capacity for metered language and rhyme begin to falter as well.52 While the majority of the text is written in what Russ McDonald dubbed “thumping regular iambic pentameter” that is “free of the metrical variations such as inverted feet or eleven-syllable lines that would later enter [Shakespeare’s] repertoire,”53 Titus varies in his control over meter, with his verse paralleling his state of mind. Smith argues that: In the first two acts when Titus’s life is in control, his lines are voiced in regular, iambic pentameter, with an occasional irregular beat entering his speech…However, in the third act, Titus’s meter begins to change… In 3.1…Titus begins his literal and rhetorical descent into insanity. In  the subsequent acts, Titus is clearly mad, which is most evident in 4.3 when he shoots arrows toward Saturninus. As Titus loses his sanity, his meter becomes more and more irregular, which is also most evident in 4.3 when 38% of Titus’s lines are non-iambic. …In a play that appears “thumpingly regular,” the significance of Titus’s irregular lines becomes startlingly clear.54 While I agree with Smith’s basic argument, that language and madness are linked in the character of Titus, I find it problematic that she claims the height of his insanity occurs in act 4, scene 3. She offers the capturing of Demetrius and Chiron as the reason for his return to sanity in his subsequent appearances in 5.2 and 5.3 but does not speculate as to why this event essentially cured his madness. My purpose then is two-fold: first, I wish to offer a different theory on how language and madness are linked in Titus Andronicus; second, I will apply this theory to the character of Titus to speculate on another possible reason for his return to sanity. While Smith is correct in pointing out that Titus’s verse form changes with his madness, I wish to go one step further and argue that the way language functions within the symbolic order also shifts with his madness. While Titus begins speaking irregular verse, he also utters phrases that reveal a disconnect between signifiers and their expected referents; in other words, the link between Titus’s madness and language exists at the level of semiotic discourse, making his madness manifest as semiotic dissonance. Beginning my analysis in act 3, scene 1, the same point at which Smith argues his madness begins, we can see numerous instances in which Titus does not operate within the same symbolic order as the other characters. While Smith labels 3.1 as a whole as the beginning of Titus’s madness, I argue that the madness is not gradual, but rather Titus experiences a mental break at line 3.1.148, when he engages with Lavinia’s new semiotic system. As already discussed, by this point Lavinia’s only form of language is the

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

175

heretofore unknown and still undefined “scrowl,” which lacks the capacity for communication with civil society. Titus can neither speak with nor for Lavinia; yet at line 148, he develops the ability to do just that. Upon seeing Lavinia, he launches into two long monologues, both of which maintain, for the most part, metrical and discursive regularity. The second of these monologues, in fact, focuses on Titus’s inability to understand Lavinia’s signs, pleading: If they did kill thy husband, then be joyful Because the law hath ta’en revenge on them. No, no, they would not do so foul a deed; Witness the sorrow that their sister makes. Gentle Lavinia, let me kiss thy lips. Or make some sign how I may do thee ease: Shall thy good uncle, and thy brother Lucius, And thou, and I, sit round about some fountain, Looking all downwards to behold our cheeks How they are stain’d, as meadows, yet not dry, With miry slime left on them by a flood? And in the fountain shall we gaze so long Till the fresh taste be taken from that clearness, And made a brine-pit with our bitter tears? Or shall we cut away our hands, like thine? Or shall we bite our tongues, and in dumb shows Pass the remainder of our hateful days? What shall we do? let us, that have our tongues, Plot some device of further misery, To make us wonder’d at in time to come.55 In the sixth line of the monologue, Titus begs Lavinia to make a sign that he can understand. From this point forward, Titus asks Lavinia a series of questions in an attempt to get some sort of affirmation from his daughter, yet the monologue concludes with him befuddled and without answers. The monologue helps reveal the disconnect between Lavinia and the others. While it is obvious she cannot speak because her tongue has been removed, this should not prevent her from making signs; even though Titus is asking yes-or-no questions, Lavinia’s “scrowl” cannot be read or interpreted. When she appears in the scene, she is operating within a system of semiotics to which the other characters do not have access. Titus, however, within this same scene, suddenly gains access to Lavinia’s world. Shortly after the previously quoted monologue, Titus tells Marcus: Mark, Marcus, mark! I understand her signs: Had she a tongue to speak, now would she say That to her brother which I said to thee:

176 Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

His napkin, with his true tears all bewet, Can do no service on her sorrowful cheeks. O, what a sympathy of woe is this, As far from help as Limbo is from bliss!56 The cause of this sudden access to Lavinia’s “scrowls” is not presented in the text, but if we read madness as a linguistic disconnect from mainstream society, such as the incapacity to maintain metered speech as Smith argues, then the sudden ability to understand Lavinia represents a break in Titus’s mental state; in this moment, Titus is exhibiting not only a disconnect in language from society, but also in the structures upon which notions of language and meaning are built. Shortly after interpreting Lavinia’s signs, Titus expresses his grief through laughs instead of tears. This disconnect between laughing and its expected referent startles Marcus, who verbalizes his confusion over the disjunction by querying, “Why dost thou laugh? it fits not with this hour.”57 In this moment, Titus and Marcus are operating within different networks of semiotics; Titus is in a liminal space, a space he recognizes as a “Limbo,” between civil society’s language and Lavinia’s scrowls while Marcus is operating within civil society’s existing symbolic order. As the play continues, Titus continues to use language that is discordant with the expected standards of society, and this semiotic dissonance can be read as madness and delusion, no more so than in act 3, scene 2. In this scene, Titus’s semiotic dissonance causes him to repeatedly react oddly to the actions of Marcus because of Titus’s incapacity to interpret them correctly, with the overreaction being most evident in the exchange about the fly: Titus Andronicus: Peace, tender sapling; thou art made of tears, And tears will quickly melt thy life away. MARCUS strikes the dish with a knife What dost thou strike at, Marcus, with thy knife? Marcus Andronicus: At that that I have kill’d, my lord; a fly. Titus Andronicus: Out on thee, murderer! thou kill’st my heart; Mine eyes are cloy’d with view of tyranny: A deed of death done on the innocent Becomes not Titus’ brother: get thee gone: I see thou art not for my company. Marcus Andronicus: Alas, my lord, I have but kill’d a fly. Titus Andronicus: But how, if that fly had a father and mother? How would he hang his slender gilded wings, And buzz lamenting doings in the air!

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

177

Poor harmless fly, That, with his pretty buzzing melody, Came here to make us merry! and thou hast kill’d him. Marcus Andronicus: Pardon me, sir; it was a black ill-favor’d fly, Like to the empress’ Moor; therefore I kill’d him. Titus Andronicus: O, O, O, Then pardon me for reprehending thee, For thou hast done a charitable deed. Give me thy knife, I will insult on him; Flattering myself, as if it were the Moor Come hither purposely to poison me.-There’s for thyself, and that’s for Tamora. Ah, sirrah! Yet, I think, we are not brought so low, But that between us we can kill a fly That comes in likeness of a coal-black Moor. Marcus Andronicus: Alas, poor man! grief has so wrought on him, He takes false shadows for true substances.58 While the overreaction of labeling Marcus a murderer can be interpreted as Titus displaying an incapacity for understanding the accepted semiotics of civil society that value human life differently than animal life, I wish to focus on the latter exchange in which the fly becomes a substitute for Aaron. In this passage, there is a subtle conversion that occurs in the way in which Titus views the fly. Initially, Titus takes Marcus’s knife and states, “Give me thy knife, I will insult on him;/Flattering myself, as if it were the Moor.”59 In these lines, Titus recognizes that the fly is the entity present, and uses the fly to represent Aaron the Moor. At the end of the monologue, these positions have reversed; Titus states that they “can kill a fly/ That comes in the likeness of a coal-black Moor.”60 Titus establishes a semiotic relationship between the Moor and the fly, with the fly serving as the signifier for the referent of the Moor. Later, the relationship switches as Titus erroneously perceives the Moor as being present, making the Moor the signifier and the fly the referent. Essentially, Titus has confused himself with his own metaphor; at first, he says the fly represents Aaron, but at the end, Titus actually perceives the fly as the Moor in disguise. Marcus, however, interprets the semiotic relationship Titus acknowledges as truth as a sign of madness; while Titus sees one truth, Marcus assumes this truth is making substances out of shadows. Examining Tamora’s revenge plot in act 5, scene 2, further cements Aaron as the locus of the semiotic dissonance that fuels Titus’s madness. While Smith agrees that Titus’s language returns to metrical and rhetorical in

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

178 Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society this scene, she offers no reason as to why this occurs. In the scene, Tamora hatches a plot that is dependent on the semiotic dissonance that functioned in previous acts of violence; for her plan to work, the symbolic order must be realigned so that Titus believes that she and her children have altered their signifier/referent relationship from a mother-child relationship to something else. She attempts to persuade Titus that the signifiers he recognizes as Tamora, Demetrius, and Chiron are in fact now referencing Revenge, Rape, and Murder. Titus has already shown that the incapacity to make sense of the symbolic order is a symptom of his madness in his laughing for sadness and substituting the fly for Aaron. Tamora’s plan, while seemingly foolish on the surface, can be seen as a reasonable attempt to exploit Titus’s mental state. The key difference between this scene and the prior scenes of Titus’s madness is that by the time this scene occurs, Aaron has fled Rome with his child; he has essentially been exiled from Rome and returned to his a priori position outside civil society. With Aaron exiled from society, Titus regains the capacity to function within the symbolic order of the rest of civil society. Titus immediately hails himself as sane and recognizes Tamora; when Tamora questions his knowledge of her person, he immediately responds, “I am not mad; I know thee well enough” and calls Tamora by name, an act that occurs numerous times throughout the scene. The flaw of the plot is that Tamora does not recognize that Aaron is the locus from which semiotic dissonance stems. Without Aaron in this scene, either physically or in Titus’s delusions as a fly, Titus has regained the capacity to connect signifiers with their normally established referents. Viewing these scenes individually reveals the way semiotic dissonance plays into perceptions of Titus’s madness; when we look at these scenes as a whole, however, they reveal that the semiotic dissonance that is read as madness only manifests when Aaron is present in Rome. Titus’s madness begins because of Aaron’s dismemberment of Lavinia, and the madness remains as long as Aaron is present. Although Aaron does not appear onstage in act 3, scene 2, he is given presence through Titus’s reversal in the fly metaphor. Once Aaron is exiled from Rome, Titus regains his sanity in the next scene in which he appears, and although Aaron is mentioned in the scene, he is referenced only through his conspicuous absence. In these ways, the text and staging of the play work together to position Aaron, his actions, and his shifting relationship to civil society as the impetus for a failure of civil structures. On the surface, this analysis of Titus Andronicus, which presents Aaron as an incorporated black theatrically, seems to contradict the non-black/black divide that I have argued structures the paradigm of Early Modern England. When this incorporation is placed in the context of the narrative, however, the idea that Aaron challenges Early Modern English notions of black abjection begins to fall apart. Shakespeare pulls a theatrical punto reverso: he presents a subversion of black tropes that reinforce the non-black/black, subject/abject paradigm by staging the incorporation of a black into civil

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

179

society side by side with the collapse of that society. Aaron begins the play as a null entity incapable of interlocution and, in the space of the scene break between act 1, scene 1, and act 1, scene 2, he begins to shift from this position of absence to becoming an interlocutor in civil society. As he continues to gain access to the privileges of civil subjects, the parameters and conditions of civil society begin to falter and eventually collapse. Aaron’s capacity for interlocution challenges the foundational ideas of absence and presence upon which the symbolic order functions, and becomes the impetus for the downfall of civil society. Aaron’s intervention into the narrative causes the destruction of notions of filiation, honor, and Rome as the homeland, and in the process repositions these elements around the abject Aaron. During the course of the play, the paradigmatic notion of civil society is turned on its head, positioning those who began as subjects as the Slave, and vice versa. What we are left with is the realization that English constructions of subjectivity and civil society are not divine, but rather just that: constructions. The play ends with a potentially terrifying proposition for the Early Modern English audience: that the abject black, in this case Aaron, while viewed as a violent perpetrator in modernity, may be the precursor of a new world.

Notes 1. As discussed numerous times throughout this book, scholarship of race in Early Modern England has argued that bloodlines, gender, nation, color, religion, and others have all been interpreted as racial divides. 2. For a full discussion, see Chapter Three of this book. 3. Ania Loomba, Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 75–76. 4. Ibid., 76. 5. Elaine Robinson, Shakespeare Attacks Bigotry (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2009). 6. For a full discussion, see chapters 1 and 2 of Frank Wilderson’s Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structures of U.S. Antagonisms (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010). 7. Stage direction preceding 1.1. 8. “Thrice noble Titus, spare my first-born son,” 1.1.137. 9. For Patterson’s full discussion of the status of the Slave, see the introduction to Slavery and Social Death (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), “The Constituent Elements of Slavery” in which he describes the slave as “permanent, violent domination of natally alienated and generally dishonored persons” (13). 10. “Was ever Scythia half so barbarous?” 1.1.149. 11. Shylock has the first line in his first scene. Othello has the second line in his first scene. 12. Belsey argues that soliloquies “make audible the personal voice and offer access to the presence of an individual” (my emphasis, 42). 13. William Hazlett, as qtd. in Philip Kolin, Titus Andronicus: Critical Essays (New York: Garland Pub., 1995), p. 4. 14. Phyllis Rackin, Shakespeare’s Tragedies (New York: Ungar, 1978), p. 15.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

180 Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society 15. Edward Ravenscroft, Titus Andronicus, or The Rape of Lavinia. 1678. Shakespeare Adaptations from the Restoration: Five Plays. Edited by Barbara A.  Murray. (Cranbury, NJ: Associated Universities Press, 2005), p. 5. 16. As qtd. in John Kerrigan, Revenge Tragedy: Aeschylus to Armageddon (New York: Oxford, 1998), p. 195. 17. Jack E. Reese, “The Formalization of Horror in Titus Andronicus,” Shakespeare Quarterly, 21.1 (Winter 1970), p. 78. 18. Ibid. 19. Kneeling is referred to in the text 12 times either in stage directions or requests from characters to participate in the act. 20. Ibid., 81. 21. See Ayanna Thompson, Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage (New York: Routledge, 2008), pp. 54–60. 22. See Frank Wilderson, Red, White, & Black, 313–316. 23. These theories are elaborated on by Frank Wilderson in Red, White, & Black, Jared Sexton in Amalgamation Schemes, and Saidiya Hartman in Scenes of Subjection, among others. 24. Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death, p. 3. 25. Wilderson, Red, White, & Black, p. 81. 26. Patterson, Slavery and Social Death, p. 4–5. 27. Robinson, Shakespeare Attacks Bigotry, pp. 18–19. 28. 2.1.60–70. All quotations from Titus Andronicus are from The MIT Shakespeare (http://shakespeare.mit.edu/). The lines numbers are of my own accounting. 29. 2.1.101. 30. Vernon Guy Dickson, “A Pattern, Precedent, and Lively Warrant: Emulation, Rhetoric, and Cruel Propriety in Titus Andronicus,” Renaissance Quarterly 62, no. 2 (Summer 2009), p. 389. 31. 2.4.5. 32. Mary Laughlin Fawcett, “Arms/Words/Tears: Language and the Body in Titus Andronicus,” ELH 50, no. 2 (Summer 1983), p. 261. 33. Ibid., 265–266. 34. 1.1.302–304. 35. 1.1.18–47. 36. 3.1.162–169. 37. 3.1.72–73. 38. 3.1.192–194. 39. 1.1.163–164. 40. 1.1.288–292. 41. 3.1.150–156. 42. Fawcett, “Arms/Words/Tears,” p. 262. 43. 2.1.1–24. 44. Wilderson, Red, White, & Black, p. 332. 45. 4.2.66–72. 46. 4.3.98. 47. 4.3.119. 48. In this scene, he states, “Not far, one Muli lives, my countryman” (4.3.151). 49. Patterson, Slavery and Social Death, pp. 21–22. 50. 5.3.202–203. 51. 5.3.200–201.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Aaron’s Incorporation and the Destruction of Civil Society

181

52. Cheryl Hogue Smith, “No Reason without Rhyme: Rhetorical Negotiation in Shakespeare,” The English Journal 99, no. 1 (September 2009): 91–98. 53. Russ McDonald, Titus Andronicus. The Pelican Shakespeare (New York: Penguin, 2000), p. xi. 54. Smith, “No Reason,” pp. 94–95. While her analysis is complete and in-depth, I have edited her quote to focus on the argument and not the statistics. 55. 3.1.116–136. 56. 3.1.143–149. 57. 3.1.264. 58. 3.2.50–79. 59. 3.2.71–72. 60. 3.2.76–77.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Afterword

What I have tried to do is expand the theoretical frame of Afro-Pessimism and anti-blackness geographically across the Atlantic and chronologically to pre-America. In the preceding chapters, I have analyzed the ways in which Early Modern English drama presented notions of black inhumanity before and separate from the slave ship to refute the claim that, as Wilderson puts it, “Africans went into the ships and came out as Blacks.” The paradigm exceeded and anticipated the discovery of black bodies by the English by placing blackness in a realm of abjection through religious doctrine that predates slavery by hundreds, if not thousands of years. Blackness, as least from the perspective of the English, was always already the abject, and the encounter with the black body was less a discovery of a new people than a confirmation of English humanity. The primary point of this work is to show that, if notions of African-ness existed as either a form of national, personal, or cultural identity, then the people of sub-Saharan Africa never would have been put on the ships to begin with. By looking at the drama of early modern England, we can see that the black African body, from the first ontological instance, was read as congruent to notions of blackness that, even before the slave ships, was read as congruent to notions of the ontological Slave. The “discovery” of the abject black body did not merely coincide by chance with the burgeoning discourse on the self and identity that occurred during the English Renaissance, but rather it gave a tangible object upon which to locate the preexisting notions of abject blackness that permeated Catholicism and English religion for thousands of years. The encounter with the black body provided an anchor for the abstract notion of abject blackness in the corporeal world, and thus also provided an anchor for discourse on individual humanity; the early modern English subject could finally stake a stable claim to notions of humanity by mediating the discourse through the always already inhuman black body. While Early Modern England predates the theoretical interventions that articulate notions of black abjection, these theories nonetheless offer a medium through which we can decipher the apparent rift between various representations of Others on the renaissance stage. It works, if not to settle, then at least to offer new interventions into the ongoing scholarly

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Afterword

183

discussions of Othello’s race, the representations of Jews, Moors, devils, and witches, and reminds people of the hundreds of forgotten black characters that at best exist on the margins and at worst are completely erased from the annals of Early Modern English drama and performance. This project, while expanding notions of paradigmatic black abjection both geographically and chronologically, is intended to offer not conclusions, but rather new beginnings. It does not locate the source or origin of black abjection, nor did it intend to. Rather, this project was undertaken to illuminate problems rather than solve them. It does not offer prescriptive gestures or solutions, but perhaps will open eyes to the fact that the problems pertaining to race that many critical race scholars position and discuss as created in America actually preexisted the American experience and the African slave trade.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

This page intentionally left blank

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Bibliography

Aasand, Hardin. “To Blanch an Ethiop, and Revive a Corse: Queen Anne and The Masque of Blackness.” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 32, no. 2 (Spring 1992): 271–85. Adams, Joseph Quincy, ed. The Dramatic Records of Sir Henry Herbert: Master of Revels 1623–1673. New York: Benjamin Blom Inc, 1964. Adams, Percy G. “The Discovery of America and European Renaissance Literature.” Comparative Literature Studies 13.2 (1976): 100–15. Accessed February 24, 2016. Adelman, Janet. “Iago’s Alter Ego: Race as Projection in Othello.”  Shakespeare Quarterly 48, no. 2 (Summer 1997): 125–44. Aldama, Frederick Luis. “Race, Cognition, and Emotion: Shakespeare on Film.” Cognitive Shakespeare: Criticism and Theory in the Age of Neuroscience. College Literature 33, no. 1 (Winter 2006): 197–213. Alexander, Catherine M. Shakespeare and Race. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2000. Alexander Catherine M. S., Ed., and Stanley Wells, Ed. Shakespeare and Race. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Alexander, Catherine M. S., Ed., and Stanley Wells, Ed. “Casting Black Actors: Beyond Othellophilia.” In Shakespeare and Race, 177–202. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Ansary, Tamim. Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes. New York: Public Affairs Press, 2010. Appleby, John C. “Duckett, Sir Lionel (d. 1587).” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed October 16, 2007. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/49749. ———. “Heron, Sir John (b. before 1470, d. 1522)” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed October 31, 2007. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/70791. Astington, John. The Development of Shakespeare’s Theatre. New York: AMS Press, 1992. Augustine of Hippo. Selected Writings. Trans. by Mary T. Clark. Ramsey, NJ: Paulist Press, 1984. Axton, Richard. European Drama of the Early Middle Ages. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1975. Bailyn, Bernard, and Morgan Bailyn. Strangers Within the Realm: Cultural Margins of the British Empire. Edited by Philip D. Morgan. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

186

Bibliography

Baldwin, Thomas Whitfield. The Organization and Personnel of the Shakespearean Company. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1961. Bartels, Emily C. “Making More of the Moor: Aaron, Othello, and Renaissance Refashionings of Race.” Shakespeare Quarterly 41, no. 4 (Winter 1990): 433–54. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2870775. ———. “Othello and Africa: Postcolonialism Reconsidered.” The William and Mary Quarterly 54, no. 1 (1997): 45–64. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2953312. ———. Speaking of the Moor: From Alcazar to Othello. Philadelphia: University of Penn Press, 2008. Barthelemy, Anthony. Black Face Maligned Race: The Representation of Blacks in English Drama From Shakespeare to Southerne. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987. Beaumont, Francis, John Fletcher, and Fredson Bowers. The Dramatic Works in the Beaumont and Fletcher Canon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. Beidler, Philip D., and Gary Taylor. “Michelangelo and the Curse of Ham: From a Typology of Jew-Hatred to a Genealogy of Racism.” In Writing Race across the Atlantic World: Medieval to Modern. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Belsey, Catherine. The Subject of Tragedy: Identity and Difference in Renaissance Drama. London: Methuen, 1985. Bentley, Gerald Eades. The Jacobean and Caroline Stage. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1941. ———. The Profession of Dramatist in Shakespeare’s Time 1590–1642. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984. ———. The Profession of Player in Shakespeare’s Time, 1590–1642. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984. Berger, Thomas L. ed. An Index of Characters in Early Modern English Drama: Printed Plays, 1500–1650. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Berry, Edward. “Othello’s Alienation.” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 30, no. 2 (Spring 1990): 315–33. Blunt, Richard. Recreating Renaissance Black Makeup. Unpublished MLitt. Thesis, Mary Baldwin College, 2006. Boose, Lynda. “The Getting of a Lawful Race: Racial Discourse in Early Modern England and the Unrepresentable Black Woman.” In Women, “Race,” and Writing in the Renaissance, edited by Margo Hendricks, Ed. and Patricia Parker, Ed. New York: Routledge, 1993. Bovilsky, Laura. Barbarous Play: Race on the English Renaissance Stage. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008. Brakke, David. “Ethiopian Demons: Male Sexuality, the Black-Skinned Other, and the Monastic Self.” Journal of the History of Sexuality  10, no. 3/4 (Summer 2001): 501–35. Braude, Benjamin. “The Sons of Noah and the Construction of Ethnic and Geographical Identities in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods.” The William and Mary Quarterly 54, no. 1 (January 1997): 103–42. http://www.jstor.org/ stable/2953314. ———. “The Sons of Noah and the Construction of Ethnic and Geographical Identities in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods.”  The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd, 54, no. 1 (January 1997): 103–42. Braxton, Natalie Phyllis. “Othello: The Moor and the Metaphor.”  South Atlantic Review 55, no. 4 (November 1990): 1–17.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Bibliography

187

Bréhier, Louis. “Crusades.” In The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. Britton, Dennis. Becoming Christian: Race, Reformation, and Early Modern English Romance. New York: Fordham UP, 2014. Brown, Pamela Allen and Parolin, Peter. Women Players in England, 1500–1660: Beyond the All-male Stage. Burlington: Ashgate. 2005. Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 2006. Callaghan, Dympna. Shakespeare Without Women: Representing Gender and Race On the Renaissance Stage. London: Routledge. 2000. Carpenter, Sarah, and Meg Ywycross. “Masks in Medieval English Theater.” Medieval English Theatre 3, no. 2 (1981): 69–113. Chapman, George. The Plays of George Chapman: The Comedies. Edited by Thomas Marc Parrott. Vol. 2. New York: Russell and Russell, 1961. Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Hybridity, Identity, and Monstrosity in Medieval Britain. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006. Cox, John D. The Devil and the Sacred in English Drama 1350–1642. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Cressy, David. Birth, Marriage, and Death: Ritual, Religion, and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Cunningham, Karen. Imaginary Betrayals: Subjectivity and the Discourses of Treason in Early Modern England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002. Cushman, L.W. The Devil and the Vice in the English Dramatic Literature Before Shakespeare. London: Frank Cass & Co, 1900. D’Alessandro, Ruth. “Early Times: Adventurers and Slavers.” Black Presence: Asian and Black History in Britain. October 16, 2007. Accessed February 23, 2016. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/blackhistory/early_times/ adventurers.htm. The National Archives. Davenant, William. The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru Expressed by Instrumental and Vocal Music, and by Art of Perspective in Scenes, &c. London: Printed for Henry Herringham, and are to Be Sold at His Shop, 1658. ———. The Complete Works of Sir William Davenant. New York: Benjamin Blom, 1968. Dabydeen, David, John Gilmore, and Cecily Jones. The Oxford Companion to Black British History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Dabydeen, David. Hogarth’s Blacks: Images of Blacks in Eighteenth Century English Art. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987. Daileader, Celia R. Racism, Misogyny, and the Othello Myth: Inter-racial Couples from Shakespeare to Spike Lee. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Dawson, Ashley. “To Remember Too Much Is Indeed A Form Of Madness’: Caryl Phillips’s The Nature Of Blood And The Modalities Of European Racism.” Postcolonial Studies 7.1 (2004): 83–101. Dickson, Vernon Guy. “A Pattern, Precedent, and Lively Warrant: Emulation, Rhetoric, and Cruel Propriety in Titus Andronicus.” Renaissance Quarterly 62, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 376–409. Dragstra, Henk, Ed. Betraying Our Selves: Forms of Self-Representation in Early Modern English Texts. New York: MacMillan Press LTD, 2000.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

188

Bibliography

Duffield, Ian and Gundara, Jagdish S, Eds. Essays on the History of Blacks in Britain. England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 1992. Earle, T.F. and Lowe, K.J.P. Black Africans in Renaissance Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2005. Edward, Tylor B. “On the Limits of Savage Religion.” The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 21 (1892): 283–301. Edwards, Paul. “The Early African Presence in the British Isles.” In Essays on the History of Blacks in Britain, edited by Jagdish S. Gundara and Ian Duffield. Avebury, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 1992. ———. “The History of Blacks in Britain.” History Today 31, no. 9 (1981). Accessed February 24, 2016. Academic Search Complete. http://www.historytoday.com/ paul-edwards/history-black-people-britain. Elder, Pliny The. A Summarie of the Antiquities, and Wonders of the Worlde. Michigan: Oxford University Press and ProQuest CSA, 1566. Elliot, John R., Jr. “Mr. Moore’s Revels: A “Lost” Oxford Masque.”  Renaissance Quarterly 37, no. 3 (Autumn 1984): 411–20. Erickson, Peter and Hulse, Clark. Early Modern Visual Culture: Representation, Race, and Empire in Renaissance England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. Esmailponr, Abolqasem. “Manichaean Gnosis & Creation Myth,” Sino-Platonic Papers, 156 (July, 2005). Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. Translated by Richard Philcox. New York: Grove Press, 2008. Fawcett, Mary Laughlin. “Arms/Words/Tears: Language and the Body in Titus Andronicus.” ELH 50, no. 2 (Summer 1983): 261–77. File, Nigel and Powers, Chris. Black Settlers in Britain 1555–1958. Hampshire, United Kingdom: BAS Printers Limited, 1981. Fleay, Frederick Gard. A Biographical Chronicle of the English Drama, 1559–1642, 1891. Fleissner, Robert F. Shakespeare and Africa: The Dark Lady of His Sonnets Revamped and Other Africa-related Associations. USA: Xlibris, 2005. Floyd-Wilson, Mary. “Moors, Race, and the Study of English Renaissance Literature: A Brief Retrospective.” Literature Compass 3, no. 5 (2006): 1044–052. ———. Clime, Complexion and Degree Racialism in Early Modern England. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1996. ———. English Ethnicity and Race in Early Modern Drama. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Freccero, John, “The Sign of Satan,” MLN, 80.1, “Italian Issue” (Jan. 1965), pp. 11–26. ———. Dante: The Poetics of Conversion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986. Frere, Bartle H. “On the Laws Affecting the Relations Between Civilized and Savage Life, as Bearing on the Dealings of Colonists with Aborigines.” The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 11 (1882): 313–54. Friedman, John Block. The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1981. Fryer, Peter. Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain. New South Wales, Australia: Pluto Press Australia Limited, 1984. Gascoigne, George, and John William Cunliffe. The Complete Works of George Gascoigne. 2 Vols. Cambridge: University Press, 1907.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Bibliography

189

Goose, Nigel and Luu, Lien. Immigrants in Tudor and Early Stuart England. Portland: Sussex Academic Press, 2005. Gordon, Lewis. Bad Faith and Antiblack Racism. New York: Humanity Books, 1999. Gosse, Philip. Sir John Hawkins. London: John Lane and Bodley Head LTD, 1930. Greenblatt, Stephen, ed. New World Encounters. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993. ———. The Norton Shakespeare: Based on the Oxford Edition. London: W.W. Norton & Company Inc, 1997. ———. Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. ———. Shakespearean Negotiations. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. Greene, Robert. “The History of Orlando Furioso.” In The Dramatic and Poetical Works of Robert Greene and George Peele. Alexander Dyce, Ed. London: Routledge, 1861. Greer, Margaret R, Ed. Rereading the Black Legend: The Discourses of Religious and Racial Difference in the Renaissance Empires. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. Gurr, Andrew. The Shakespearean Stage, 1574–1642. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. ———. The Shakespearean Stage, 1574–1642. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. ———. The Shakespearian Playing Companies. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. Habib, Imtiaz H. “Indians in Shakespeare’s England as ‘the First-Fruits of India’: Colonial Effacement and Postcolonial Reinscription.” Journal of Narrative Theory 36, no. 1 (2006): 1–13. ———. Black Lives in the English Archives, 1500–1677: Imprints of the Invisible. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2008. ———. “Hel’s Perfect Character”; or The Blackamoor Maid in Early Modern English Drama: The Postcolonial Cultural History of a Dramatic Type.” Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory 11, no. 3 (2000): 277–304. ———. “Racial Impersonation on the Elizabethan Stage: The Case of Shakespeare Playing Aaron.” In Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 2007. ———. “Reading Black Women Characters in English Renaissance Literature.” In Renaissance Papers, 67–80. 1996. ———. “Shakespeare’s Spectral Turks: The Postcolonial Poetics of a Mimetic Narrative.” Shakespeare Yearbook 14 (2004): 237–70. ———. “Sir Peter Negro, Othello and the Lost Blacks of Elizabethan England: Colonial Inscription and Postcolonial Excavation.” Literature Interpretation Theory 9.1 (1998): 15–30. ———. Shakespeare and Race: Postcolonial Praxis in the Early Modern Period. Lanham: University Press America, 2000. Harbage, Alfred and Schoenbaum, S. Annals of English Drama, 975–1700. An Analytical Record of All Plays, Extant or Lost, Chronologically Arranged and Indexed by Authors, Titles, Dramatic Companies. London: Methuen & Co., 1940. Hadfield, Andrew, ed. Amazons, Savages, and Machiavels: Travel and Colonial Writing in English, 1550–1630: An Anthology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

190

Bibliography

Hakluyt, Richard. “Divers Voyages Touching the Discovery of America and the Islands Adjacent.” Edited by John Winter Jones. The Hakluyt Society, 1st ser., no. 7 (1850). Hall, Kim F. “‘Troubling Doubles’: Apes, Africans, and Blackface in Mr. Moore’s Revels.” In Race, Ethnicity, and Power in the Renaissance, edited by Joyce Green MacDonald. London: Associated University Press, 1997, pp. 120–144. ———. Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern Europe. New York: Cornell University Press, 1995. Hartman, Saidiya. Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth Century America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Hashaw, Tim. The Birth of Black America: The First African Americans and the Pursuit of Freedom at Jamestown. New York: Carroll and Graf Publishers, 2007. Hazlewood, Nick. The Queen’s Slave Trader: John Hawkyns, Elizabeth I, and the Trafficking in Human Souls. New York: Harper Collins, 2004. Hendricks, Margo. ““Obscured by Dreams”: Race, Empire, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Shakespeare Quarterly 47, no. 1 (1996): 37–60. Accessed February 24, 2016. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2871058. Hendricks, Margo and Parker, Patricia, Eds. Women, “Race,” and Writing in the Early Modern Period. New York: Routledge, 1993. Herbert, Sir Thomas. A relation of some yeares travaile: begunne anno 1626. Into Afrique and the greater Asia, especially the territories of the Persian monarchie: and some parts of the orientall Indies, and iles adiacent. Of their religion, language, habit, discent, ceremonies, and other matters concerning them. Together with the proceedings and death of the three late ambassadours: Sir D.C., Sir R.S. and the Persian Nogdi-Beg: as also the two great monarchs, the King of Persia, and the Great Mogol. London: printed by William Stansby and Iacob Bloome, 1634. Heywood, Thomas. The Fair Maid of the West, Parts I and II. Edited by Robert K. Turner. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967. Hill, Errol. Shakespeare in Sable: A History of Black Shakespearean Actors. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1984. Hillman, Richard. Self-Speaking in Medieval and Early Modern Drama. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997. Hong, Grace. The Ruptures Of American Capital: Women Of Color Feminism And The Culture Of Immigrant Labor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006. Honigmann, E.A.J, ed. Othello. The Arden Shakespeare. London: Thomson Learning, 1999. Hornback, Robert. “The Folly Of Racism: Enslaving Blackface And The “Natural” Fool Tradition.” Medieval & Renaissance Drama In England 20 (March 4, 2012): 46–84. Horrox, Rosemary.  A Social History of England 1200–1500. Edited by Mark W. Ormond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Householder, Michael. Inventing Americans In the Age of Discovery: Narratives of Encounter. Burlington Vermont: Ashgate, 2011. Hughes, Derek. Versions of Blackness: Key Texts on Slavery from the Seventeenth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Iyengar, Sujata. Shades of Difference: Mythologies of Skin Color in Early Modern Europe. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Bibliography

191

Jackson, L.P. “Elizabethan Seamen and the African Slave Trade.” The Journal of Negro History 9.1 (January 1924): 1–17. Jones, Eldred D. Othello’s Countrymen; the African in English Renaissance Drama. London: Published on Behalf of Fourah Bay College, the University College of Sierra Leone Oxford University Press, 1965. ———. The Elizabethan Image of Africa. Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1971. Jordan, Winthrop D.  White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550–1812. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1995. Kelsey, Harry. Sir John Hawkins: Queen Elizabeth’s Slave Trader. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. Kerrigan, John.  Revenge Tragedy: Aeschylus to Armageddon. New York: Oxford, 1998. Kirby, E.T. “The Origin of the Mummers’ Play.” The Journal of American Folklore 84, no. 333 (July 1971): 275–88. Knapp, Jeffrey. Shakespeare’s Tribe: Church, Nation, and Theater in Renaissance England. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2002. Knutson, Rosalyn. Playing Companies and Commerce in Shakespeare’s Theatre. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Kolin, Philip C. Titus Andronicus: Critical Essays. New York: Garland Pub., 1995. Korhonen, Ana, and K.P. J. Lowe. “Washing the Ethiopian White: Conceptualising Black Skin in Renaissance England.” In Black Africans in Renaissance Europe, edited by T. F. Earle, Ed., 94–112. London: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Kowaleski-Wallace, Elizabeth. The British Slave Trade and Public Memory. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. Lausund, Olav and Stein Haugom Olsen. Self-fashioning and Metamorphosis in Early Modern English Literature. Edited by Haugon Stein. Norway: Gjovik Trykkeri, 2003. Law, Robin, ed. The British Transatlantic Slave Trade: The Operation of the Slave Trade in Africa. Vol. 1. London: Pickering and Chatto, 2003. Lewis, Bernard. Race and Slavery in the Middle East. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Liang, David, ed. The Poems of William Dunbar. Edinburgh: Laing and Forbes, 1834. Lindenbaum, Shirley. “Thinking About Cannibalism.” Annual Review of Anthropology 33 (2004): 475–98. Little, Arthur L. “‘An Essence That’s Not Seen’: The Primal Scene of Racism in Othello.” Shakespeare Quarterly 44, no. 3 (Autumn 1993): 304–24. ———. Shakespeare Jungle Fever: National-Imperial Re-Visions of Race, Rape and Sacrifice. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000. Loades, David. “Winter, Sir William (ca.1525–1589)” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed October 10, 2007. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29769. Lodge, Thomas. The Wounds of Civil War. Edited by Wilson J. Dover. Reprinted by The Malone Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1910. Loomba, Ania. Race in Early Modern England: A Documentary Companion. Edited by Jonathan Burton. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007. ———. “‘Delicious Traffick’: Racial and Religious Difference On Early Modern Stages.” Edited by Catherine Alexander and Stanley Wells. In Shakespeare and Race. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

192

Bibliography

———. Gender, Race, Renaissance Drama. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. ———. Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Lowe, Kate. “The Stereotyping of Black Africans in Renaissance Europe.” Black Africans in Renaissance Europe, edited by T. F. Earle, Ed., 17–47. London: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Luke, Don. “African Presence in the Early History of the British Isles and Scandinavia.” In African Presence in Early Europe, edited by Ivan Van Sertima, Ed., 224–44. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1985. “Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature.” Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature. November 22, 2011. Accessed February 24, 2016. http://www. luminarium.org/. MacDonald, Joyce Green, ed. Race, Ethnicity, and Power in the Renaissance. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Press, 1997. ———. “Acting Black: ‘Othello,’ ‘Othello’ Burlesques, and the Performance of Blackness.” Theatre Journal 46, no. 2 (May 1994): 231–49. ———. Women and Race in Early Modern Texts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Mafe, Diana Adesola. “From Ògún to “Othello”: (Re)Acquainting Yoruba Myth and Shakespeare’s Moor.” Research in African Literatures  35, no. 3 (Autumn 2004): 46–61. Mancall, Peter C, ed. Travel Narratives from the Age of Discovery: An Anthology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Mandeville, John. Mandeville’s Travels. Translated by Hamelius. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960. Markham, Clements R., ed. The Hawkins’ Voyages During the Reigns of Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth, and James I. London: Printed for the Hakluyt Society, 1878. Marriott, David. On Black Men. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. Marshall, Cynthia. The Shattering of the Self: Violence, Subjectivity, and Early Modern Texts. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. Mason, Philip. “Othello and Race Prejudice.” Caribbean Quarterly 8, no. 3 (September 1962): 154–62. Matar, Nabil. Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery, New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. McConnell, Anita. “Lodge, Sir Thomas (1509/10–1585)” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed October 16, 2007. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/16922. McDonald, Russ, ed. Titus Andronicus. The Pelican Shakespeare. New York: Penguin, 2000. Meager, David. “Slavery in Europe from the End of the Roman Empire.” Crossway, no. 103 (Winter 2007). http://archive.churchsociety.org/crossway/documents/ Cway_103_Slavery2.pdf. Melnikoff, Kirk. Robert Greene. Burlington: Ashgate, 2011. Melnikoff, Kirk and Gieskes, Edwards, Eds, Writing Robert Greene: Essays on England’s First Notorious Professional Writer, Burlington: Ashgate, 2008. More, St. Thomas. St. Thomas More: Selected Letters. Elizabeth Frances Rogers, Ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961. Morgan, Basil. “Hawkins, Sir John (1532–1595)” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed October 9, 2007. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/12672.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Bibliography

193

———. “Hawkins, William (b. before 1490, d. 1554/5)” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed October 16, 2007. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/12683. Morgan, Kenneth, Ed. The British Transatlantic Slave Trade, New York: Routledge Press, 2003. Morgan, Phillip D, and Hawkins, Sean. Black Experience and the Empire. London: Oxford University Press, 2004. Neill, Michael. “‘Mulattos,’ ‘Blacks,’ and ‘Indian Moors’: Othello and Early Modern Constructions of Human Difference.” Shakespeare Quarterly 49, no. 4 (Winter 1998): 361–74. ———. Putting History to the Question: Power, Politics, and Society in English Renaissance Drama. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. Newstock, Scott L. and Ayanna Thompson, Ed. Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. O’Reilly, William. “Conceptualizing America in Early Modern Central Europe.” Pennsylvania History 65 (1998): 101–21. Oldenburg, Scott. “The Riddle of Blackness in England’s National Family Romance.”  Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies  1, no. 1 (Spring 2001): 46–62. Parker, Andre, Doris Summer, Mary Russo, and Andrew Parker. Nationalisms and Sexualities. New York: Routledge, 1991. Patterson, Orlando. Slavery and Social Death. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982. Peele, George. The Battle of Alcazar. London, W White, 1599. ———. The Famous Chronicle of King Edward the First, Sirnamed Edward Longshankes with His Returne from the Holy Land. Also the Life of Lleuellen Rebell in Wales. Lastly, the Sinking of Queene Elinor, Who Sunck at Charingcrosse, and Rose Againe at Pottershith, Now Named Queenehith. London: W White, 1599. Electronic. Accessed November 3, 2008. Pennington, L.E., ed. The Purchas Handbook: Studies of the Life, Times, and Writings of Samuel Purchas 1577–1626. Vol. 1 London: The Hakluyt Society, 1997. Penrose, Boies. Travel and Discovery in the Renaissance, 1420–1620. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960. Piesse, A.J, ed. Sixteenth-century Identities. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000. Pinkerton, John. The History of Scotland from the Accession of the House of Stuart to that of Mary. London: C. Dilly, 1797. Prosser, Eleanor. Drama and Religion in the English Mystery Plays. Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press, 1961. Puttenham, George. The Arte of English Poesie; Contrived into Three Books: the First of Poets and Poesie, the Second of Proportion, and the Third of Ornament. Kent Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1970. Pye, Christopher. ““To Throw out Our Eyes for Brave Othello”: Shakespeare and Aesthetic Ideology.” Shakespeare Quarterly 60.4 (Winter 2009): 425–47. Rackin, Phyllis. Shakespeare’s Tragedies. New York: Ungar, 1978. Ravenscroft, Edward. Titus Andronicus, or The Rape of Lavinia. 1678. Shakespeare Adaptations from the Restoration: Five Plays. Edited by Barbara A. Murray. Cranbury, NJ: Associated Universities Press, 2005. Reese, Jack E. “The Formalization of Horror in Titus Andronicus.” Shakespeare Quarterly, 21.1 (Winter 1970), pp. 77–84.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

194

Bibliography

“Reference Collection.” National Portrait Gallery. Accessed January 19, 2008. http:// www.npg.org.uk/collections/about/reference-collection.php. Robinson, Elaine L. Shakespeare Attacks Bigotry. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2009. Rowse, A.L, ed. The First Colonists: Hakluyt’s Voyages to North America. London: The Folio Society, 1986. Royster, Francesca. “‘Working Like a Dog’: African Labor and Racing the Human Animal Divide in Early Modern England.” Edited by Philip Biedler and Gary Taylor. In Writing Race Across the Atlantic World. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005. Rutter, Carol. Enter the Body: Women and Representation on Shakespeare’s Stage. New York: Routledge, 2000. Sale, Carolyn. “Black Aeneas: Race, English Literary History, and the “Barbarous” Poetics of Titus Andronicus.” Shakespeare Quarterly 62, no. 1 (Spring 2011): 25–52. Saunders, A.C. De D.M. A Social History of Black Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal 1441–1555. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Schechner, Richard. Performance Studies: an Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2002. Scobie, Edward. Black Britannia; a History of Blacks in Britain. Chicago: Johnson Pub., 1972. Sertima, Ivan Van. “African Presence in Early Europe.” In African Presence in Early Europe. New Brunswick , NJ: Transaction Books, 1985. Sewter, A.C. “Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth.” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 76, no. 444 (March 1940): 71–76. Sexton, Jared. Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008. Shakespeare, William. Othello. Edited by Andrew Matthews and Tony Ross. London: Orchard, 2006. Sherwood, Terry G. The Self in Early Modern Literature: For the Common Good. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2007. Shyllon, Folarin. Black People in Britain 1555–1833. London: Oxford University Press, 1977. Simkin, John. “Anglo-Saxons.” Spartacus Educational, October 26, 2007. Accessed February 24, 2016. http://spartacus-educational.com/MEDanglosaxon.htm. Simpson, John, ed. Oxford English Dictionary. 3rd ed. Accessed October 30, 2007. http://www.oed.com/. Skura, Meredith Anne. “Reading Othello’s Skin: Contexts and Pretexts.” Philological Quarterly 87 (2008): 299–334. Slights, Camille Wells. “Slaves and Subjects in Othello.” Shakespeare Quarterly 48, no. 4 (Winter 1997): 377–90. Smith, Alan G.R. The Emergence of a Nation State Commonwealth of England, 1529–1660 (Foundations of Modern Britain). 2nd ed. Essex: Addison Wesley Longman Limited, 1997. Smith, Cheryl Hogue. “No Reason without Rhyme: Rhetorical Negotiation in Shakespeare.” The English Journal 99, no. 1 (September 2009): 91–98. Smith, Ian. “Barbarian Errors: Performing Race in Early Modern England.” Shakespeare Quarterly 49, no. 2 (Summer 1998): 168–86. ———. Ace and Rhetoric in the Renaissance: Barbarian Errors. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Bibliography

195

Spiller, Elizabeth. Reading and the History of Race in the Renaissance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Stevens, Andrea. “Mastering Masques of Blackness.” English Literary Renaissance, no. 39 (Spring 2009). Sticca, Sandro, ed. The Medieval Drama: Papers of the Third Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1972. Stokes, James, ed.  Records of Early English Drama: Somerset. Vol. 2. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996. Taylor, Hannis. “England’s Colonial Empire.” North American Review, June 1896, 682–97. Accessed January 7, 2008. Thomas, Kristi S. “Medieval and Renaissance Marriage: Theories and Customs.” Medieval and Renaissance Marriage. Accessed February 24, 2016. http://celyn. drizzlehosting.com/mrwp/mrwed.html. Thompson, Ayanna. Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage. New York: Routledge, 2007. ———. “Racism, Misogyny, and the “Othello” Myth: Inter-Racial Couples from Shakespeare to Spike Lee.” Shakespeare Quarterly 57, no. 3 (2006): 361–63. ———. “Weird Brothers: What Thomas Middleton’s The Witch Can Tell Us About Race, Sex, and Gender in Macbeth.” In Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Thomson, Peter. Shakespeare’s Theatre. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1983. Tokson, Eliot H. The Popular Image of the Black Man in English Drama, 1550–1688. Boston: G.K. Hall. 1982. Tomlin, R.S.O. Roman Manuscripts from Carlisle: The Ink-Written Tablets. Britannia, Vol. 29, (1998), pp. 31–84. Published by: Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies. Ungerer, Gustav. “Recovering a Black African’s Voice in an English Lawsuit: Jacques Francis and the Salvage Operations of the Mary Rose and the Sancta Maria and Sanctus Edwardus, 1545-ca 1550.” Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 17 (2005): 255–71. Unwin, Rayner. The Defeat of John Hawkins; a Biography of His Third Slaving Voyage. Great Britain: George Allen and Unwin Limited, 1960. Valesio, Paolo. “The Language of Madness in the Renaissance,” in Yearbook of Italian Studies, Cadmo: Casini Libri, 1971, pp. 199–234. Van Sertima, Ivan. African Presence in Early Europe. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishing, 1985. Vaughan, Alden T., and Virginia Mason Vaughan. “Before Othello: Elizabethan Representations of Sub-Saharan Africans.” The William and Mary Quarterly 54, no. 1 (January 1997): 19–44. Vaughan, Virginia Mason. “The Construction of Barbarism in Titus Andronicus.” Edited by Joyce Green MacDonald. In Race, Ethnicity, and Power in the Renaissance. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1997. ———. Othello: A Contextual History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. ———. Performing Blackness on English Stages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Vitkus, Daniel J. “Turning Turk in Othello: The Conversion and Damnation of the Moor.” Shakespeare Quarterly 48, no. 2 (Summer 1997): 145–76.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

196

Bibliography

Walker, Mather. “The Orphic Allegory: The Comedy of Errors.” Sir Francis Bacon’s New Advancement of Learning, December 2003. Accessed September 30, 2008. http://www.sirbacon.org/mcomedyerrors.htm. Walvin, James. Black and White: The Negro and English Society, 1555–1945. Aylesbury, UK: Hazell Watson and Viney Limited, 1973. ———. Black Ivory: Slavery in the British Empire. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2001. Warden, G.B. “Law Reform in England and New England, 1620 to 1660.” The William and Mary Quarterly 35.4 (1978): 668–90. Washington, Joseph R. Anti-Blackness in English Religion 1500–1800. New York: Edwin Mellon Press, 1984. Wertz, Dorothy. “Conflict Resolution in the Medieval Morality Plays.” The Journal Of Conflict Resolution. 13.4 (Dec. 1969), pp. 438–453. Wilderson III, Frank B. Red, White, and Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010. Yeager, Timothy J. “Encomienda or Slavery? The Spanish Crown’s Choice of Labor Organization in Sixteenth-Century Spanish America.” The Journal of Economic History, 55.4 (Dec. 1995), pp. 842–859. Young, R. V. “The Bard, the Black, the Jew.” First Things. March 4, 2012. Accessed February 23, 2016. http://www.firstthings.com/article/2004/03/ the-bard-the-black-the-jew. Zilberstein, Anya. “Objects of Distant Exchange: The Northwest Coast, Early America, and the Global Imagination.” The William and Mary Quarterly 64.3 (2007): 591–620. Zuckerman, Michael. “The Fabrication of Identity in Early America.” The William and Mary Quarterly 34.2 (1977): 183–214.

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Index

African tribes: Hawkins’s description of 75, 128–129, 132–137, 144–148; Moors and 9, 79–80, 92–99. See also slave trade Afro-Pessimism 14–15, 18, 20, 70; antiblackness and 182; coining of 32n65; gender and 143; Mr. Moore’s Revels and 99; Patterson and 68; violence and 162; Wilderson on 32n67, 182 Ansary, Tamim 71 anti-black studies 140, 148 anti-blackness 20, 25, 26, 34–35, 41; Afro-Pessimism and 182; Davenant and 148; Othello and 111–112, 122; Washington on 38–39, 63n16, 110–111 Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare) 138, 154n38 “apes” 92, 96–100; Irish as 102n7 Ariosto, Ludovico 27–28, 79–86, 90, 91 aristocratic portraits, with black servants 26, 56–62, 100 Asians 24, 61–62, 67–69 Augustine of Hippo 29n21, 36–39, 49–50, 52 baptism 5–6, 16, 29n15 Barbary Kingdom 51, 108 Bartels, Emily 27, 70, 95, 109 Barthelemy, Anthony 8, 74–76, 103n15 Baskerville, Thomas 54 Battle of Alcazar (Peele) 26–27, 65n53, 73–79, 101 Behn, Aphra 12–13 Belsey, Catherine 16, 159, 179n12 ben Messaoud, Abd el-Ouahed 51, 108 Bentley, G.E. 92 Berger, Tom 148, 155n57 blackface cosmetics 9, 26; in Coventry Cycle plays 63n26; in Mr. Moore’s Revels 92, 96–98

blackness 7, 13, 182; devils and 10–11, 25–26; gender and 6–7, 24; in Greene’s Orlando Furioso 79–91; identity construction and 14–20; Moors and 92–99; ontological Slave and 73; in Othello 6–7; in Peele’s Battle of Alcazar 74–79; undefinability of 25, 28, 121; witches and 38–39, 51, 111, 116, 183 Boose, Lynda 24, 102n7, 137–138, 144 Bovilsky, Laura 6–7, 29n17 Brakke, David 42 Brehier, Louis 82 British slave trade 13, 56–57, 85, 128 Britton, Dennis Austin 4–7, 20, 27 Brook, Peter 160, 161 Brown, Jayna 139–140, 143 Browne, Thomas 63n16 Burkhardt, Jakob 10 Butler, Judith 139–140, 143, 145 Cabot, John 126, 153n6 Callaghan, Dympna 53 Campion, Thomas 155n57 cannibalism 150–151 Cape Verde Islands 129 Catherine of Aragon, queen of England 48–51 Chambers, E.K. 40–42, 46 Chapman, George 148, 155n57 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor 133–134 Clark, Stuart 34 Columbus, Christopher 133, 150 commodification 99–101 Cortés, Hernán 135 Coventry Cycle plays 43–46, 51, 63n25–32 Cox, John D. 34, 40–42 Crenshaw, Richard 5 critical race theory 14–15, 18

198

Index

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru (Davenant) 27–28, 148–153 crusades 10, 31n41, 71, 82, 86 Cunningham, Karen 15, 16 Cushman, L.W. 40–43 cycle plays 25–26, 33, 40, 52, 63n25; Coventry 43–46, 51, 63n25–32 Daileader, Celia R. 107 Dante 10–11, 62n6 Davenant, William 27–28, 148–153 Descartes, René 21, 32n74 Diana (Roman goddess) 112 Dickson, Vernon Guy 164 Dido, Queen of Carthage (Marlowe) 138, 154n38 Doctor Faustus (Marlowe) 47, 50–52 Dollimore, Jonathan 16 Drake, Francis 128 Drummond, William 155n57 Edward I (Peele) 65n54, 159 Edward III (Shakespeare) 107 Eliot, T.S. 160 Elizabeth I, queen of England 53; deportation of blacks by 54–56, 85; in Greene’s adaptation of Orlando Furioso 80, 85, 86, 91; Ottoman Empire and 65n55, 72; slave trade and 56–57, 85, 128; trade companies chartered by 65n55 Elliot, John R. 92 encomienda system 133–134 Fanon, Frantz 18, 32, 111, 115 Fawcett, Mary Laughlin 165–166, 169 Feerick, Jean 29n6 feminism, women-of-color 139–140, 143, 145. See also gender Fleay, F.G. 92 Flecknoe, Richard 155n57 Freccero, John 10–11 Fryer, Peter 8, 54, 127 gender 137–148; Afro-Pessimism and 143; blackness and 6–7, 24; Boose on 137–138; Butler on 139–140, 143, 145; Hall on 24 Gieskes, Edward 80 Greenblatt, Stephen 10, 16, 30n36, 159 Greene, Robert: on Shakespeare 80; History of Orlando Furioso 26–27, 73–74, 79–91, 101

Habib, Imtiaz 8, 42, 48–50, 56, 101n6 Hadfield, Andrew 9, 125 Hall, Joseph 39, 63n16 Hall, Kim F. 20; on color as race 8–9, 25; on gender 24; and Habib 101n6; on Mr. Moore’s Revels 92, 95–97; on slave trade 126–127; on Willoughby d’Eresby’s portrait 60 Ham (Noah’s son) 39, 62n14, 111 Harbage, Alfred 92 Harrington, John 79 Hartman, Saidiya 12–13, 18–19, 25, 102n7, 147; on rape 140–142 Hawkins, John 27, 126–137, 144–153; African tribes described by 75, 128–132, 134–137, 144–145; on cannibalism 150; Native Americans described by 128–129, 132–137, 145–148; slave trade of 25, 85, 126–128, 134–137, 152–153 Hendricks, Margo 127 Henry V (Shakespeare) 107 Henry VI, Part 1 (Shakespeare) 106 Henry VI, Part 2 (Shakespeare) 107 Herbert, Thomas 96 Hillman, Richard 21 Hispanics 24, 67–68 History of Orlando Furioso (Greene) 26–27, 73–74, 79–91, 101 Hong, Grace 139–143 Honigmann, E.A.J. 106 Householder, Michael 125 Hunter, G.K. 9 identity 10–12, 20–25, 29n22–24; racialized 3–5, 12, 14–20, 24; religious 4, 14, 17 Identity construction 14, 17 Irish, perceived as “apes” 102n7 Islam. See Muslims Jews 4, 38, 59 Johnson-Hadad, Miranda 85 Jones, Eldred 30n31 Jordan, Winthrop 109, 138 Judy, Ronald 23 Kean, Edmund 108 King Lear (Shakespeare) 85 Kingsley, Charles 102n7 Korhonen, Ana 42 Lacan, Jacques 22, 161 Lindenbaum, Shirley 150

Index

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

“linguistic madness” 84–85 Lodge, Thomas 65n54 Loomba, Ania 2, 42, 138, 156, 157 Love’s Labour’s Lost (Shakespeare) 53, 159 Lowe, Kate 125 Macbeth (Shakespeare) 107 Manicheism 29n21, 35–39, 42, 43, 80 Mansur, Ahmad al-, 72 Marlowe, Christopher: Dido, Queen of Carthage 138, 154n38; Doctor Faustus 47, 50–52; Tamburlaine 51, 60, 65n53–54 Marriott, David 18–19 Marshall, Cynthia 16 Marshall, Peter C. 125 Massinger, Philip 155n57 master/slave dynamic 18, 101, 131; encomienda system and 133; Hartman on 140–142; Hong on 140–142; Patterson on 22, 162–163 Matar, Nabil 72, 154n23 McDonald, Russ 174 Melnikoff, Kirk 80 Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare) 179n11 Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare) 30n28 Mignard, Pierre 57 miscegenation 90, 95–96, 140–142; in Othello 115; in Titus Andronicus 162, 172 Moors 6, 14, 17, 111, 118; black Africans and 9, 79–80, 92–99; racial designations of 38–39, 70, 72–76, 93–94 More, Thomas 48–51, 153n6 Morgan, Kenneth 126 Mr. Moore’s Revels 26–27, 92–101 Muslims 72–73, 111, 118; Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso and 82, 85–86; Christian conversions to 6; Christian identity and 4, 17 Native Americans 8, 14, 17, 24, 72, 148; cannibalism and 150–151; Davenant’s portrayal of 27–28, 148–153; encomienda system and 133–134; Hawkins’s descriptions of 128–129, 132–137, 145–148 New Historicism 16 Newstock, Scott L. 107

199

Oldenburg, Scott 75 “On the Baptized Aethiope” (Crenshaw) 5 Orlando Furioso (Ariosto) 27–28, 79–86, 90, 91; Greene’s adaptation of 26–27, 73–74, 79–91, 101 Ormonde, Duchess of (Mary Somerset) 57, 58, 100 Oroonoko (Behn) 12–13 Othello (Shakespeare) 27, 106–123; Bovilsky on 6–7; Hunter on 9; Iago in 27, 107, 119–122; as “race play” 106, 120; Titus Andronicus and 156, 160 Ottoman Empire 65n55, 72, 118 Parker, Andrew 90 Parker, Patricia 127 Patterson, Orlando 18, 51, 73, 119; on blacks in aristocrats’ portraits 60; Hong on 140, 142–143; on master/ slave dynamic 22, 162–163; on slaves’ natal alienation 49; on slaves’ property rights 102n13, 115–116, 172; Wilderson and 18, 68–69 Peele, George 65n54, 159; Battle of Alcazar 26–27, 65n53, 73–79, 101 Pinto, Samantha 139–140 Pizarro, Francisco 135 Pliny the Elder 87 Poleman, John 74, 75 Ponce de León, Juan 135 portraits of aristocrats, with black servants 26, 56–62, 100 Portsmouth, Duchess of (Louise de Kroualle) 57, 100 Portuguese slave trade 126–128, 132 Puttenham, George 138–139 race 67–68; color as 8, 15, 138; as “difference” 2–3; as identity 3, 4, 12, 14, 24; nomenclature of 21, 61–62; theology as 5, 7 “race plays” 106–107, 120 race studies 11, 19, 73–74, 92, 127. See also Afro-Pessimism rape 140–143, 163 Reese, Jack E. 160–161 Richard I, king of England 71 Richard III (Shakespeare) 106 Robinson, Elaine 156–157, 163–164 Rutter, Carol 116, 121 Saladin, sultan of Syria 71 Sanders, Norman 80

Downloaded by [University of California, San Diego] at 20:22 18 January 2017

200

Index

Saunders, A.C. De D.M. 48 Schoenbaum, S. 92 Schomberg, Duke of (Frederick Armond de Schomberg) 57, 59, 60 semiotic dissonance 28, 159–162; in Aaron’s violent acts 162–169; definition of 161; of false filiation 169–173; as madness 173–178 semiotic reciprocation 22–24 Senden, Casper van 55 Sexton, Jared 18–19 Shakespeare, William 80; “race plays” of 106–107, 120. See also individual plays slaves 73; property rights of 26, 115–116, 172; as subject to gratuitous vioence 22, 24, 78, 119, 163, 165 slave trade 72, 126–128; English 13, 25, 56–57, 85, 128, 134–137, 152–153; Portuguese 126–128, 132; Spanish 128, 132. See also African tribes Slave/Subject paradigm 157, 165 Slights, Camille 118–119 Smith, Cheryl Hogue 174 soliloquies 159, 179n12 Southerne, Thomas 12 Spanish slave trade 128, 132 Spiller, Elizabeth 3, 20 Spillers, Hortense 18, 29n6 State of Missouri v. Celia, a Slave 141 sumptuary laws 58–59 Tamburlaine (Marlowe) 51, 60, 65n53–54 Tatham, John 155n57

Taymor, Julie 160 Thompson, Ayanna 12–14, 26, 52–53, 107, 161–162; on “White/Right gaze” 4, 6–8, 11, 13, 14 Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare) 28, 156–179; Aaron’s violent acts in 162–169; film adaptation of 160; Othello and 156, 160; as “race play” 106 Tokson, Elliot 103n14–15 Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare) 106–107 Valesio, Paolo 81, 84–85 Vaughan, Virginia Mason 9–10, 25; on Othello 109; on religious iconography 111 Walvin, James 55, 127 Washington, Joseph 38–39, 63n16, 110–111 Webster, John 138 Wertz, Dorothy 45–46 “White/Right gaze” (Thompson) 4, 6–8, 11, 13, 14 Wilderson, Frank 18–19, 60, 147; on Afro-Pessimism 32n67, 182; on the black body 162; on father-son bond 171; Patterson and 18, 68–69; on slaves 157; on violence 163 Willoughby d’Eresby, Lord (Peregrine Bertie) 60, 61 witches 38–39, 51, 111, 116, 183 women-of-color feminism 139–140, 143, 145. See also gender Yeager, Timothy 134