Reading and the History of Race in the Renaissance

Reading and the History of Race in the Renaissance

By: Elizabeth Spiller (author)Hardback

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Elizabeth Spiller studies how early modern attitudes towards race were connected to assumptions about the relationship between the act of reading and the nature of physical identity. As reading was understood to happen in and to the body, what you read could change who you were. In a culture in which learning about the world and its human boundaries came increasingly through reading, one place where histories of race and histories of books intersect is in the minds and bodies of readers. Bringing together ethnic studies, book history and historical phenomenology, this book provides a detailed case study of printed romances and works by Montalvo, Heliodorus, Amyot, Ariosto, Tasso, Cervantes, Munday, Burton, Sidney and Wroth. Reading and the History of Race traces ways in which print culture and the reading practices it encouraged, contributed to shifting understandings of racial and ethnic identity.

About Author

Elizabeth Spiller is Professor of English and Director of the History of Text Technologies Program, Florida State University. She is the author of Science, Reading and Renaissance Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and editor of the two-volume Seventeenth-Century English Recipe Books (2008). She has been awarded fellowships from the NEH, the Fulbright and the Mellon foundations, and her article 'Situating Prospero's Art: Shakespeare and the Making of Early Modern Knowledge', which appeared in the South Central Review, was awarded the Kirby Prize by the SCMLA for the best article of 2009. Her work has been published in such journals as Renaissance Quarterly, Studies in English Literature, Modern Language Quarterly and Renaissance Drama.


Introduction: print culture, the humoral reader, and the racialized body; 1. Genealogy and race in post-Constantinople Romance: from The King of Tars to Tirant lo Blanc and Amadis de Gaula; 2. The form and matter of race: Heliodorus' Aethiopika, hylomorphism, and neo-Aristotelian readers; 3. The conversion of the reader: Ariosto, Herberay, Munday, and Cervantes; 4. Pamphilia's black humor: reading and racial melancholy in the Urania.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781107007352
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 264
  • ID: 9781107007352
  • weight: 520
  • ISBN10: 1107007356

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