This seminar will explore how early modern English (as well as European) contact with different parts of the non-European world ‘re-orients’ our perspective on the period, and obliges us to re-think contemporary theories of race. How do medieval and early modern writings about Africa, the Islamic world, India, the Americas, Ireland and Jews, including their representations in literature, help us understand the history of racial ideologies? How do they contribute to theoretical discussions about race? How do they reconfigure histories of embodiment, gender and sexuality? The seminar will be particularly interested in how these ideas were circulated and consumed on the public stage, with a view to understanding how race is important to the emergence of an early modern public sphere.
Besides vigorous weekly participation in the seminars, members of the seminar will be required to complete the following assignments: 1) a 10-minute formal oral presentation, 2) a 5-10 page short paper, and 3) a 20+ page end of semester research paper.