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?
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.