Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

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First published: March 1, 2024 - Last updated: March 1, 2024


Author: Kirsten N(oelle) Mendoza

Title: Representations of Race, Rape, and Consent in Early Modern English Drama

Subtitle: -

Thesis: Ph.D.Thesis, Vanderbilt University

Advisor: Kathryn Schwarz

Year: 2018

Pages: vi + 214pp.

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 16th Century, 17th Century | European History: English History | Types: Rape; Representations: Literary Texts / Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, John Marston


Link: Vanderbilt University Institutional Repository (Free Access)


Author: Kirsten N. Mendoza, Department of English, University of Dayton

Abstract: »Representations of Race, Rape, and Consent in Early Modern English Drama analyzes the intersections of raced bodies and sexual violence in theatrical performances of the late Elizabethan and early Stuart periods that experiment with the problem of shifting cultural understandings of the consent of women and racialized others in a global early modernity. Beginning with the first statutes of Westminster issued early in the reign of Edward I, English law conflated two crimes: stealing women and forcing women to submit to sexual relations. In the medieval period, rape laws protected men’s right to property. This meant that a suitor who takes a willing woman from her home could be charged with the crime of rape without having sexually violated a woman so long as her father or husband did not consent. By the beginning of the sixteenth century, the legal definition of rape bore more resemblance to its present-day description; it transformed from being a crime against a woman’s father or husband to a crime against the woman herself. Despite this legal change, the persistence of medieval perceptions of women as property whose persons belonged to men continued to influence the adjudication of rape cases throughout the seventeenth century. This fraught reconceptualization of women’s self-possession and the efficacy of their consent occurred alongside England’s relentless campaigns in Ireland, expansion in the Americas, and initial attempts to enter the slave trade. As the seventeenth century progressed, the previously status-marked class of slaves—who by definition could not own property in their persons and who, therefore, were denied the ability to grant or to withhold consent— increasingly became an embodied and racialized category. The theatrical scenes of rape, seduction, and coercion that I analyze in my work address the problem of consent at a specific period of empire-building, when the taxonomies of difference would eventually come to validate the oppression of racial others. I argue that these scenes of rape were neither independent nor tangential to an imperialist agenda but, instead, central to emerging notions of political personhood, self-possession, and an English whiteness.« (Source: Vanderbilt University Institutional Repository)

  Dedication (p. ii)
  Acknowledgements (p. iii)
  Introduction (p. 1)
    An Inevitable Consent: Rape Laws and Lived Experiences (p. 3)
    Rape, Race, and Sexuality (p. 13)
    Looking Ahead (p. 16)
  Chapter 1. Chaste Demands: The Problem of the Simultaneous, or Racializing History in Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine Parts I & II (p. 20)
    Of Agency, Change, and Slavery (p. 25)
    “My poore pleasures are devided thus”: Multivalence in Consent (p. 36)
    Chastity: A World without Possibility (p. 48)
    Olympia’s Race: Loss and Fictions of Purity (p. 55)
  Chapter 2. “And then I loved thee”: Of Consensual Submission and the Limits of Community in Shakespeare’s The Tempest (p. 63)
    Willing Vulnerability (p. 65)
    Defining Community through Narratives of Consent (p. 71)
    Rethinking Illicit Sex and Miranda’s Volition (p. 88)
    “Thou Forget’st”: The Malleability of Consent (p. 97)
  Chapter 3. “The base fruit of her burning lust”: The Knotty Discourses of Race and Sexuality in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (p. 111)
    Interracial Desire and White Allegiances (p. 113)
    Dark Networks (p. 126)
    Lavinia’s Spring with Winter Mixed (p. 134)
    A Model of Modern Racial Paradigms (p. 143)
  Chapter 4. Cultivating Race through Consent and Self-Possession in John Marston’s The Wonder of Women, or The Tragedy of Sophonisba (p. 149)
    A Woman’s Property in Her Person (p. 154)
    The Making of a Political Subject (p. 157)
    Blackness and Dispossession (p. 167)
    The Cost of Self-Possession (p. 181)
  Afterward (p. 193)
  Bibliography (p. 197)

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of England / History of England | Literature: English literature / Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, John Marston | Literature: Fiction about rape / Tamburlaine, The Tempest, Titus Andronicus, The Wonder of Women | | Sex and the law: Rape / History of rape