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In lieu of an abstract, here is the review's first paragraph:

In Shakespeare and the Cultivation of Difference, Patricia Akhimie sets an ambitious goal: in addition to exploring how race, class, conduct, and drama are intertwined in the early modern period, Akhimie seeks to show readers how to recognize the pain of racism, which she reads as “a persistent and particular kind of injustice, the signs of which are as fluid as they are injurious” (9). Despite the variability of signs of human differences and despite the promise of self-improvement offered by conduct literature, Akhimie argues that social immobility was the reality for many groups within early modern English society. This immobility stemed from the identification of somatic markers “like indelible blackness,” (5) and “the workings of racist thinking that link a social process of differentiation . . . to the naturalization of such differences” (11). To accomplish what she calls an “emancipatory task” (10), Akhimie examines an impressive range of primary materials. She focuses on four Shakespeare plays, Othello, The Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Tempest, which she pairs with surprisingly diverse yet relevant forms of conduct books devoted to “specific cultivating strategies” in the realms of travel, housekeeping, husbandry, and hunting.


This review was originally published in Early Modern Culture, 14 (2019): 220-223 © Clemson University Press.

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