Current Issue Article Abstracts
Volume 21.1 Winter 2021
This essay proposes that early colonial (sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century) narratives of the conquest of Mexico offer a prism through which to view the meeting of chromatic perceptions from both Indigenous Mesoamerican and Spanish cultures, particularly as those perceptions apply to gold and skin. Recent literature on the pre-Hispanic cultures of Mesoamerica has provided important new understandings of the social and cosmological meanings of specific body paints among Indigenous Mesoamerican communities. Meanwhile, medievalists have increasingly focused on visual and literary expressions of epidermal colorism—the racialized perception of skin color—in premodern Christian Europe. Scholars of colonial Latin America have also studied expressions of epidermal colorism in the meeting of Old World and New World populations, yet those studies largely take as their point of departure the visual articulation of a castas regime in the eighteenth century. However, in Mexico's early conquest narratives, written in Spanish and Nahuatl, observations regarding the color of skin and precious materials attest to a confluence of Spanish and Mesoamerican ways of seeing color. From this confluence of chromatic perspectives, a critical Indigenous positionality emerges in relation to the narrow valorization of gold and whiteness.
This essay examines Thomas Dekker's The Shoemaker's Holiday (1599) and the ways that it dramatizes the ideological emergence of the early modern citizenry in London. Looking through the dual lens of modern genre theory and Marxist literary criticism, the essay argues that the early modern history play is a precursor to the city comedy form and that The Shoemaker's Holiday is a hybrid play drawing on aspects of both genres. The play exhibits not just this generic shift but also the economic and ideological tensions between the aristocracy and early bourgeoisie that this shift represents. Ultimately, the essay argues that greater scholarly flexibility in defining genres and understanding their evolution can yield further insight into the similarly flexible and sometimes undefined nature of social relations in early modern England.
This essay proposes a fresh approach to New English accounts of Barbary captivity—one that considers how captivity and enslavement in North Africa influenced peripheral subjects' sense of Englishness during the construction of a "new" England in North America. Juxtaposing narratives of New English former captives with those written by their metropolitan counterparts, the article argues that Barbary captivity catalyzed the estrangement between the colony and the metropole as early as the seventeenth century. The article analyzes Barbary captivity narratives within a metropole-colony-North Africa triangulation rather than employing binary oppositional models based on Edward Said's theory in his discussion of Orientalist discourse. This triangular model reveals that, rather than engaging in an identity formation defined against North African Muslims, Anglo-Americans began questioning the consequences of their creolization when faced with the threat of Barbary captivity. In other words, the metropole's indifference to its peripheral subjects' sufferings as captives in North Africa fomented the process of a "new" English identity formation. This process subverted the metropolitan perception of the colonists as less White, less Christian, and ultimately less English.
In 1630, the Stationer Richard Hawkins began selling an edition of Shakespeare's Othello from "his shoppe in Chancery-Lane, neere Sergeants-Inne" (Othello 1630 title page). This edition, identified by modern scholars as Q2, is remarkable as the first edition to fully conflate existent quarto and folio texts of a Shakespeare play. Scholars have remarked on the process that brought Q2 into being—but the question of why a seventeenth-century publisher/bookseller would invest the time and money to create such an edition remains to be considered. This article decenters the author to reconsider Q2's place among the people and ideas of the area in which it was published and sold: the Serjeants' Inn in the heart of the Inns of Court area of London. The article examines how Hawkins fashioned the books sold in his shop to entice this local readership. Literary and textual evidence from the Quarto is then reconsidered in the light of this new readership, providing fresh insights into the construction of this unique quarto and its place in modern editorial practice. This article also highlights the extent to which individual members of the book trade in the early seventeenth century engaged with local readerships and looks at the value of second-plus editions to that market.
Impressive Shakespeare: Identity, Authority and the Imprint in Shakespearean Drama by Harry Newman (review)
Art, Allegory and the Rise of Shiism in Iran, 1487–1565 by Chad Kia (review)