“Working Like a Dog”: African Labor and Racing the Human-Animal Divide in Early Modern England

  • Francesca Royster
Part of the Signs of Race book series (SOR)

Abstract

Jeanne Addison Roberts sees the function of animal imagery in early modern English culture as means to explore what can’t be faced directly: “As agents of revelation, animals operate effectively because they operate to expose a duality in humanity, a haunting combination of the recognized and the strange. Because they are both familiar and mysterious, they can often serve as links between the known and the unknown. In literature and in art, animals often function as guides to previously unexplored psychic landscapes—regions hitherto unsuspected, ignored, or avoided.”1

Keywords

Europe Mold Income Expense Hunt 

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NOTES

  1. 1.
    Jeanne Addison Roberts, “Animals as Agents of Revelation: The Horizontalizing of the Chain of Being in Shakespeare’s Comedies” in New York Literary Forum, vol. 5/6 (1980) 81.Google Scholar
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    All references to John Webster’s The White Devil are from The Drama of the English Renaissance. Vol. II: The Stuart Period, ed. Russell A. Fraser and Norman Rabkin (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1976), 431–474.Google Scholar
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    See Hall’s Things of Darkness (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995), especially pages 211–253.Google Scholar
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    Some early modern documents on the human/animal divide include Edward Topsell’s The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents (London. 1607); Godfrey Goodman’s The Fall of Man or the Corruption of Nature (London, 1616); Thomas Hodges’s The Creatures goodness, as they Came out of Gods Hands (London, 1675); and Thomas Robinson’s New Observations of the Natural History of this World of Matter and of this World of Life (London, 1696). Treatises on the domestication of animals include A Treatise of Oxen, Sheep, Hogs, and Dogs, With their Natures, Qualities and Uses (London: Obadiah Balgrave, 1683); Thomas Tryon’s The Country-Mans Companion (London: 1684); and A Choice Collection of Several Strange and Wonderful Dogs (1738). Google Scholar
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    The tensions between the black servant as exotic object and as source of slave labor explode with the seventeenth century. Seventeenth century documents discussing the pros and cons of English entry into the slave trade include Richard Jobson’s The Golden Trade (1623); Nicolas Villaut’s A Relation of the Coasts of Africk called Guinee (1670), Robert Lewes’s The Merchants Map of Commerce (1671); Nathaniel Crouch’s A View of the English Acquisions in Guinea (1686); and later, in the eighteenth century, A Short Treatise on the Unfair purchase of Slaves (1794).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Philip D. Beidler and Gary Taylor 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Royster

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