“I Had Peopled Else”: Shakespeare’s Queer Natalities and the Reproduction of Race
“‘I Had Peopled Else’: Shakespeare’s Queer Natalities and the Reproduction of Race” explores representations of queer natality in four plays by William Shakespeare. This chapter suggests that the queerest child is the child who is altogether absent; thus, representations of anti-natalism and queer natality in these plays reveal the essentially precarious, tenuous nature of reproductive futurity. In so doing, I argue, they also expose the racialized assumptions underwriting the central figure of futurity, the child. If The Tempest and The Merchant of Venice emphasize figures of foreign hyper-fecundity and miscegenation amidst depictions of barrenness and lineal disruption, Titus Andronicus highlights the dangers of legible natality, while A Midsummer Night’s Dream prompts audiences to interrogate the persistent fictions around the promise of natal futurity.
I am indebted to Jennifer Higginbotham and Mark Albert Johnston for their generous feedback on this chapter. I am also grateful to all the participants of the “Queering Childhood” seminar at the 2016 Shakespeare Association of America Meeting for an illuminating conversation, and especially to Amy Eliza Greenstadt, Rachel Prusko, Melissa Welshans, and Lucy Munro for their thoughtful responses to an earlier version of this chapter. All references to Shakespeare ’s plays, unless otherwise noted, follow The Riverside Shakespeare (1997) and appear parenthetically by act, scene, and line numbers.
- Bullokar, John. 1616. An English Expositor. London: John Legatt.Google Scholar
- Cowell, John. 1607. The Interpreter: or Booke Containing the Signification of Words. Cambridge: John Legate.Google Scholar
- Culpeper, Nicholas. 1653. The English Physitian Enlarged. London: Peter Cole.Google Scholar
- Florio, John. 1611. Queen Anna’s New World of Words, or Dictionarie of the Italian and English Tongues. London: Melch. Bradwood.Google Scholar
- Muñoz, José Esteban. 2009. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
- Shakespeare, William. 2010. The Merchant of Venice. Ed. John Drakakis. London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare.Google Scholar
- ———. 2011. The Tempest. Ed. Alden T. Vaughan and Virginia Mason Vaughan. London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare.Google Scholar
- Shin, Hiewon. 2008. Single Parenting, Homeschooling: Prospero, Caliban, Miranda. SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 48 (2): 373–393.Google Scholar
- Wilson, Luke. 2012. Macbeth and the Contingency of Future Persons. Shakespeare Studies 40: 53–62.Google Scholar