ABSTRACT This article explores the denigration of Jewish manhood on the English Renaissance stage and the ways that the inherently performative space of the theater and the collective experience of spectatorship created the ideal conditions for reconstructions of Jewish-Christian power relations. I argue that canonical late sixteenth-century plays incorporated emasculating humor about Jewish men to exercise control over those that challenged white Christian dominance. By analyzing a dramatic culture that represented Jewish male figures as being unfit for martial action, humiliatingly emotional, and physically inferior, I show how gendered constructions of Jewishness provide evidence of Renaissance theater’s celebration of Christian supremacy in one of the most popular secular spaces of the day at the same time that it secured associations of Jewish unmanliness in the English cultural imagination for centuries to come.

issue 24 / n.2 (2023) by Becky S. Friedman