Shakespeare Jungle Fever: National-Imperial Re-visions of Race, Rape and Sacrifice

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This book takes Shakespeare's plays as a site for studying the specter of interracial sex - or a 'jungle fever' - in early modern England's envisionings of itself. The author argues that early modern England's national-imperial aesthetic, notably its evocation of classicism, relies significantly on a textual and cultural manipulation of race. Nowhere is this more apparent and popularly accessible than in the period's drama and in sacrificial rape stories, narratives in which a raped white woman kills herself not only to reclaim her lost virginity but also to claim or reclaim her racial whiteness. Not surprisingly, the desire to affirm the sacrificially raped woman as white necessitates the inclusion of black male bodies in these stories. This inclusion is made all the more conspicuous by the fact that there are no known historical accounts of a black man raping a white woman in early modern England.