Cardenio: Shakespeare’s Lost Race Play?

  • Ayanna Thompson


The History of Cardenio, Gary Taylor’s reconstructed/collaborative performance script, offers something new for the early modern canon, a romance whose central focus is a “mulatta” who marries the “white” son of a duke. For early modern race scholars, this text and future performances of it will provide new avenues for scholarship. Finally, we can theorize more fully about how race functions in the romance genre to balance out the tragedy-/Othello-obsessed focus of much of our research; the play, after all, ends with a double marriage instead of a murder-suicide. In addition, The History of Cardenio allows us to discuss the intersectionality of race, class, and gender in a much more comprehensive way, complementing and even challenging the Cleopatra-obsessed focus of much of our work on race and gender in the early modern period.


Black Woman Gated Community Early Modern Period Black Actor Fourth Wall 
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  1. 3.
    The force of the stereotypes created by Othello is brilliantly documented in Celia Daileader’s Racism, Misogyny, and the Othello Myth: Inter-Racial Couples from Shakespeare to Spike Lee (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    See Ayanna Thompson, Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), esp. 97–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Terri Bourus and Gary Taylor 2013

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  • Ayanna Thompson

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