Situating Henry Francis Downing as an important if traditionally overlooked black playwright of America, Britain, and the Atlantic world, this article brings focus to Downing's 1914 drama Incentives, which evinces Downing's indebtedness to nineteenth-century black dramatist Ira Aldridge even as it conceives of the world (during the months immediately preceding the First World War) as interconnected by sinews of capital, empire, and transnational alliance. As Incentives weaves its settings, back-stories, and spheres of concern through Britain, the American West, New York City, continental Europe, and European empires throughout the world, the drama's preoccupations with the theatrical conventions of plot and cast contribute to Downing's larger legacy as a playwright attempting to use drama to alter representations of diasporic blackness within a version of the world that envisions transnational capitalism as usurping the hegemony of nation-states. Downing's current status as a little-known playwright should cause critical reflection on the ways in which scholars have pursued questions of diaspora and the black Atlantic.


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pp. 386-406
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