This chapter explores the ways in which Jews and Ottoman Turks participated
in theatre-making in early modern northern Italian cities, notably Mantua
and Venice. Embraced for their economic and commercial contribution, the
religiously and culturally distinctive minorities were also segregated into
separate living quarters, taxed as foreigners and visually branded in order
to clearly mark their difference. Despite the separation of minority
populations, the Turks, and to a greater extent the Jews were incorporated
in civic events and encouraged to participate in theatrical spectacles and
performances. The subject of Jewish and Turkish participation in theatrical
and civic performances has received little attention considering the vast
archival trace they left behind. This essay brings to light the Turkish
acrobatic performances which took place in Venice and in Prague and offers
an analysis of their importance in the context of civic rituals. In
addition, the chapter offers many examples of Jewish performances in the
Venetian and Mantuan context, including several never before mentioned
examples taken from the Mantua state archives.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book demonstrates that incest was representative of a range of interests crucial to writers of the Gothic, often women or homosexual men who adopted a critical stance in relation to the heteronormative patriarchal world. Incest, a sexual act associated with transgression, violations of power and violence, has readily been conflated with sexual violence in Gothic scholarship and consigned to one of two gendered plots. Sexuality, questions of ownership, inheritance, women's subjugation to male authority, laws of coverture and primogeniture and issues concerning gender roles pervade Gothic works from the mid-eighteenth century on. The incest thematic as employed by women writers in the early modern period is shown to be transgressively endogamic in Maureen Quilligan's excellent work on incest in Elizabethan England.
There are several problems that usually emerge in scholarship examining representations of father-daughter incest in the Gothic, even in works by scholars whose goal is to lay bare the feminist themes that are central to the genre. Principal among these is that representations of father-daughter incest often cause works to be placed in the gendered subgenre of Female Gothic and to be viewed through a lens predicated on this generic division. This chapter examines the incestuous relationships between fathers and daughters in Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest and Mary Shelley's Matilda and the texts' attendant scholarship. These three works have been selected in order to compare the way that incest is rendered in a representative chronology of Gothic texts beginning with what has been traditionally defined as the original Gothic novel.