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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Unlike ‘race’, with which ‘slavery’ is often associated in today’s society, early modern language relating to servitude is under-investigated. Using Shakespeare’s dramatic works as its primary archive, this chapter explores two forms of extra-legal slavery which, it is argued, facilitate discursive exchange between intra-European or intra-British modes of degradation and those employed in Anglo-colonialism. It begins with a study of ‘slave’ as a status-based pejorative that can be differentiated from ‘villain’ and ‘peasant’, and understood in connection with the Vagrancy Act of 1547, which introduced a form of penal ‘slavery’. The second extra-legal form of slavery, war slavery, is explored as part of the dramatic action of Titus Andronicus and Cymbeline, and with reference to debates on Anglo-colonialism.

Keywords: race, slavery, Anglo-colonialism, Roman jurisprudence, Vagrancy Act, Cymbeline, Spenser, Heliodorus, ritual sacrifice, status

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