This essay mines the interstices between queer theory and early modern race studies to argue that current critical conversations in the field of queer studies around homohistory and homonationalism illuminate paradoxical shifts in the meanings of the early modern English family and Renaissance iterations of race. Drawing on the tension between sameness and alterity generated by discourses around the prefix “homo,” I examine the household’s “alien bodies” and their imbrication in blood-based ideas of race and family to ask how sameness can make us more attentive to the (so-called) “strange.” Kinship, I contend—as the proximate, the familial, and the lineal—situates the unkind, the unlike, and the alien at its very center. Looking at several key moments in Othello and Hamlet alongside Marlowe’s Edward II and Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, this essay argues that discourses of kinship and kindness register emergent racial formations rooted in the paradoxes of the familiar and the familial, the servant and the stranger, proximate alienation and racialized approximations.


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pp. 14-29
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