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Unto the BreachMartial Formations, Historical Trauma, and the Early Modern Stage$
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Patricia A. Cahill

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199212057

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212057.001.0001

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Biopower in the English Pale

Biopower in the English Pale

Generation and Genocide in Edward III

(p.102) 3 Biopower in the English Pale
Unto the Breach

Patricia A. Cahill (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter turns from modes of disciplinary power to the regulation of social phenomena at the mass level in order to show how ideas about biopolitics—that is, about the making of a reproducible social body—are inscribed in Elizabethan martial dramas. Exploring how discourses of fertility overlap with discourses of warfare in the theater, this chapter focus on the anonymous Edward III, a play, partly Shakespearean, which is haunted by Elizabethan military experiences in Ireland, and which, in fascinating ways, anticipates the similarly biopolitical concerns of Shakespeare's Henry V. Edward III obliquely discloses its engagement with both the matter of the Irish wars as well as with a kind of “race panic”—a fear of the erosion of Englishness—that arose in concert with the English plantation or re‐peopling, of Ireland.

Keywords:   Edward III, Henry V, Ireland, biopolitics, fertility, warfare, Englishness, race panic

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