© Columbia University Press
Cloth, 288 pages, 20 b&w
Edinburgh University Press
This book explores the theme of Christian conversion to Islam in 12 early-modern English plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Massinger and others. In these works, conversion from Christianity to Islam is represented as both erotic and tragic: as a sexual seduction and a fate worse than death.
Degenhardt examines the theatre's treatment of the intercourse between the Christian and Islamic faiths to reveal connections between sexuality, race and confessional identity in early modern English drama and culture. In addition, she shows how England's encounter with Islam reanimated post-Reformation debates about the embodiment of Christian faith. As Degenhardt compellingly demonstrates, the erotics of conversion added fuel to the fires of controversies over Pauline universalism, Christian martyrdom, the efficacy of relics and rituals and the ideals of the Knights of Malta.