Becoming Christian: Race, Reformation, and Early Modern English Romance
Becoming Christian argues that romance narratives of Jews and Muslims converting to Christianity register theological formations of race in post-Reformation England. The medieval motif of infidel conversion came under scrutiny as Protestant theology radically reconfigured how individuals acquire religious identities.
Whereas Catholicism had asserted that Christian identity begins with baptism, numerous theologians in the Church of England denied the necessity of baptism and instead treated Christian identity as a racial characteristic passed from parents to their children. The church thereby developed a theology that both transformed a nation into a Christian race and created skepticism about the possibility of conversion. Race became a matter of salvation and damnation.
Britton intervenes in critical debates about the intersections of race and religion, as well as in discussions of the social implications of romance. Examining English translations of Calvin, treatises on the sacraments, catechisms, and sermons alongside works by Edmund Spenser, John Harrington, William Shakespeare, John Fletcher, and Phillip Massinger, Becoming Christian demonstrates how a theology of race altered a nation's imagination and literary landscape.
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Acrasia allegory Anabaptists argues argument Ariosto’s Armusia asserts baptismal theology baptized Becon belief Bible body Book Calvin Cambridge University Press canto Catholic children of Christians Christ Christian identity Church of England circumcision covenant Cranmer cultural Desdemona desire difference discussion Donusa Early Modern England early modern English early modern period English Protestant epic Ethiopian Faerie Queene faith figure Gender genre God’s Guyon Hanmer Harington Iago Iago’s infidel infidel-conversion motif Islam Island Princess Jessica’s Jewish Jews John lineage literary marriage martyrdom medieval Merchant of Venice metamorphosis Moor Muslim narrative notes origins Orlando Furioso Othello Ovid Ovid’s Ovidian Oxford Palmer Paul’s play play’s poem poem’s Poetics Politics Quisara race racial and religious readers reading Reformation rejection religion religious conversion religious identity Renaissance Renegado Rogero romance Ruggiero sacraments salvation Saracen sexual Shakespeare skin color Spenser spiritual suggests texts theology tion tragedy tragicomedy transformation translation turning Turk Tyndale Tyndale’s understanding Vitelli women York