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September 05 , 2008

Reading and the History of Race in the Renaissance


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.

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