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Blackface Disguise at the Court of Queen Henrietta Maria, 1625-1649 (EUC Fall Brown Bag Lecture Series)

Event Type
European Union Center
Sep 8, 2020   12:00 pm  

This virtual Brown Bag lecture will be given by Andrea Stevens, Associate Professor of English, Theatre, and Medieval Studies. Drawn from Dr. Stevens’ current book-in-progress, this talk will address the surprising centrality of racial masquerade at the English Caroline court. Throughout the 1630s in particular, a cluster of court productions and public plays under the patronage of Queen Henrietta Maria all feature the trope of the ‘Maid-as-Moor’: the plot device of an aristocratic white woman who temporarily masquerades as an African only to be revealed as white within the course of the production. What might, at first glance, appear to be a ‘transgressive’ convention destabilizing ideas about the fixity of whiteness is, however, anything but, and Dr. Stevens will show how the Queen cultivates this convention to promote a conservative Caroline mythology idealizing chastity and marital love. The talk will survey some key representative masques and plays and will also link the Queen’s interest in such drama to her own experience with other forms of racial masquerade, including the ‘ballet nationals’ and the ‘turqueries’ of her youth in France at the court of her mother, Marie de Medici. To narrate the genealogy of this performance convention is thus to further our understanding of the centrality of black ‘otherness’ to white Europe’s invention of itself during the early modern period, especially within elite feminocentric circles.

This event, part of the European Union Center's fall 2020 brown bag lecture series, will be held on Zoom:

Meeting ID: 962 0839 2286

Password: 308697

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