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This thesis examines a hitherto neglected body of works featuring female characters enslaved in Islamicate lands. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, many Englishmen and women were taken captive by pirates and enslaved in what is now the Middle East and North Africa. Several writers of the time created narratives and dramas about the experiences of such captives. Recent scholarship has brought to light many of these works and pointed out their importance in establishing what was still a young, unsure, and developing English identity in this early period. Most of this scholarship, however, has dealt with narratives of the male captivity experience, leaving literary representations of women's experiences in captivity largely unexplored. I fill the gap in this thesis, using both captivity narratives, such as Emanuel D’Aranda’s History of Algiers, and dramas, including Robert Daborne’s A Christian Turn’d Turke, Philip Massinger’s The Renegado, and Lodowick Carlell’s Osmond the Great Turk. I argue that early modern captivity literature maintained a gendered double-standard that allowed men to reaffirm the strength of their European and Christian identities despite the power of Islamic hegemony while simultaneously exposing the faithless flaws of the “weaker sex,” creating within their literature female captive characters who ultimately betray their “true,” European identities.
Adviser: Stephen Buhler
Cultural History Commons, Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory Commons, European History Commons, History of Gender Commons, Islamic World and Near East History Commons, Literature in English, British Isles Commons, Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Commons, Women's History Commons, Women's Studies Commons