Early Modern Biopolitics: Race and Sexuality, Classification and Population

When and Where

Thursday, February 16, 2023 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
GS 206 Regents Room
Victoria College


Valerie Traub


Recent scholarship concerned with early modern sexuality and/or race has begun to consider the relevance of Michel Foucault’s concept of biopolitical governance—the administration of “life”—to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (e.g., Glimp, LaFleur, Friedlander, LaFleur and Schuller). What does the concept of biopolitics—with its emphasis on techniques of classification, the analytic shift from the individual to the population, and the ultimate objective of “securitization”—add not only to our understanding of emerging forms of racism and the growth of colonialism, chattel slavery and empire, but the role of sexuality in fostering them? Does the analytic lens of biopolitics bring race and sexuality closer together or further apart?

Valerie Traub

Adrienne Rich Distinguished Professor of English & Women’s and Gender Studies; Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Michigan

Valerie Traub is the Adrienne Rich Distinguished University Professor of English and  Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of  Thinking Sex with the Early Moderns (2015),  The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern  England (2002),  and  Desire & Anxiety: Circulations of Sexuality in Shakespearean  Drama (1992, reissued 2014).  Both  Thinking Sex and  The Renaissance of Lesbianism won the Best Book award from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women.  In  addition, she has edited several collections, including  The Oxford Handbook of  Shakespeare and Embodiment (2016), which received the  Ronald H. Bainton Prize for  Best Reference Work in 2016.  Her latest co-edited collection is  Ovidian Transversions:  Iphis and Ianthe, 1350-1650. She is currently finishing  Mapping Normality in the Early  Modern West, which examines how gender, race, and sexuality in cartographic and  anatomical illustration comprise a prehistory of the concept of the normal.


Contact Information

Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies


Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies