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Sites about Oroonoko; or, the Royal Slave

by Aphra Behn

Behn’s story of Oroonoko, an African man who starts out as a prince and ends his life as a slave.

Characters: Oroonoko, Imoinda

Critical sites about Oroonoko; or, the Royal Slave

Race, Women, and the Sentimental in Thomas Southerne’s Oroonoko
“Imoinda, the “beautiful black Venus” of Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko (1688), is one of few representations of dark-skinned women in early modern literature. Thomas Southerne’s 1696 dramatization of Behn’s novella is, in its turn, probably best-known for changing the skin color of its Imoinda from black to white. As her racial and sexual identity are reconstructed in whiteness, Behn’s black Imoinda becomes an early example of the enforced invisibility of the black female subject in the Americas’ dominant cultural discourse. In turning to Southerne’s play as the primal scene of this abduction from representation, I hope to emphasize Oroonoko’s cultural vitality after Behn as a site for the deconstruction and reformation of women’s racial identities.”
Contains: Content Analysis, Historical Context, Character Analysis
Author: Joyce Green Macdonald
From: Criticism Fall 1998
White Mistress and the Black Slave: Aphra Behn, Racism and the Beginnings of Novelistic Discourse
“Despite the narrator’s critical treatment of slavery, Oroonoko is an exemplary text for a study of racism at the beginning of novelistic discourse; it cannot easily be dismissed as merely the work of a racist indivual, and as such can be examined for more far-reaching effects of race within culture. The goal of the proposed paper will not be to prove whether Behn was racist or not (as numerous articles have already done on both sides(3)), but to examine the way in which the complex relationship of race and gender informs this early prose narrative, as well as the criticism surrounding it.”
Contains: Content Analysis, Historical Context, Bibliography
Author: Ruth Nestvold
From: Literary Arts Allied Collective

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Last Updated Apr 29, 2013