Race Before Race

Historical Context Essay

Emily MacLeod (Penn State University); Anita Raychawdhuri (University of Houston-Downtown)
Download PDF Add to Bookshelf Report an Error

When people today visualize early modern London, what do they imagine? Crowded streets, alive with a wide array of smells and sights, such as an occasional person decked out in a ruff, doublet, and hose, as is depicted in the CBBC series

Horrible Histories

or the 1998 flick

Shakespeare in Love.

Based on these images from popular culture, they might also assume that everyone in early modern England was white, and that race as we define it today was not actually a concept back then. This current assumption is notable in outrage about, for example, Jodie Turner-Smith (a Black woman) being cast as Anne Boleyn in the miniseries of the same name. Some angry viewers protested the casting choice because it went against historical accuracy. Aside from a totally separate argument about artistic…

6731 words

Citation: MacLeod, Emily, Anita Raychawdhuri. "Race Before Race". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 14 December 2022 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=19691, accessed 12 June 2024.]

19691 Race Before Race 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.