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Becoming ChristianRace, Reformation, and Early Modern English Romance$
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Dennis Austin Britton

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823257140

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823257140.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 27 February 2021

. Reproducing Christians

. Reproducing Christians

Salvation, Race, and Gender on the Early Modern En glish Stage

Chapter:
(p.142) 5. Reproducing Christians
Source:
Becoming Christian
Author(s):

Dennis Austin Britton

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823257140.003.0006

Whereas numerous infidel women convert to Christianity on the early modern English stage, relatively few infidel men convert. Chapter 5 explores the interplay of race, gender, and salvation in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, John Fletcher’s The Island Princess, and Philip Massinger’s The Renegado. The frequency with which Jewish, Turkish, and Moorish women convert to Christianity in English drama more generally responds to the convergence of theological and medical discourses that highlighted the role of male seed in creating a child’s identity, and reflects as well Reformation theology’s linkage of spiritual and sexual reproduction. Nonetheless, anxieties about what an infidel mother might pass on to her children, even when she is married to a Christian man, prompt Fletcher’s and Massinger’s plays to employ the discourse of martyrdom in order to verify the women’s acquisitions of true Christian faith.

Keywords:   race, gender, sexual reproduction, martyrdom, William Shakespeare, John Fletcher, Philip Massinger, The Merchant of Venice, The Island Princess, The Renegado

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