Staging Blackness and Performing Whiteness in Eighteenth-Century German Drama

1st Edition

Wendy Sutherland

Routledge
Published January 6, 2016
Reference - 272 Pages
ISBN 9781409424024 - CAT# Y239862

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Summary

Focusing on eighteenth-century cultural productions, Wendy Sutherland examines how representations of race in philosophy, anthropology, aesthetics, drama, and court painting influenced the construction of a white bourgeois German self. Sutherland positions her work within the framework of the transatlantic slave trade, showing that slavery, colonialism, and the triangular trade between Europe, West Africa, and the Caribbean function as the global stage on which German bourgeois dramas by Friedrich Wilhelm Ziegler, Ernst Lorenz Rathlef, and Theodor Körner (and a novella by Heinrich von Kleist on which Körner's play was based) were performed against a backdrop of philosophical and anthropological influences. Plays had an important role in educating the rising bourgeois class in morality, Sutherland argues, with fathers and daughters offered as exemplary moral figures in contrast to the depraved aristocracy. At the same time, black female protagonists in nontraditional dramas represent the boundaries of physical beauty and marriage eligibility while also complicating ideas of moral beauty embodied in the concept of the beautiful soul. Her book offers convincing evidence that the eighteenth-century German stage grappled with the representation of blackness during the Age of Goethe, even though the German states were neither colonial powers nor direct participants in the slave trade.

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