ENGL-145-01 Muslims and Jews in Renaissance Drama
Fall for 2009-2010
How do we understand the frequent representation of Muslims and Jews in the plays of early modern England during a time in which neither group was officially permitted to live there? Why are Muslim and Jewish characters so often represented in the same plays? Are Jews and Muslims seen as sharing an important connection, or as relating to each other in significant ways? Do the substantial religious upheavals England following the Reformation, and the resulting struggles to define new religious identities, encourage the English to explore the ways in which they differ not only from other Christians but also non-Christians? In this course we will read sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English plays which represent some of these concerns in their accounts of two non-Christian religious traditions: Judaism and Islam. We will consider the significance of these representations both to discover what the English thought about religious difference as well as what these thoughts reveal about English culture. We will also attend to the ways in which representations of religious difference intersect with early modern ideas of race and gender.
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