Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jacob Selwood

Second Advisor

Ian Fletcher


The purpose of this work is to investigate the degree to which English racial prejudices against people of African descent existed prior to England’s substantial involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. I also analyze the degree to which the slave trade served as a conduit of transformation for ideas of blackness and difference already present within English culture as England’s imperial ambitions evolved throughout the seventeenth century. The importance of this topic stems from the presence of a historical debate as to whether or not racism was the result of transatlantic slavery or was present prior. Much has been said about the late seventeenth century and its relationship to the development of English racial thought. However, further attention needs to be paid to periods prior and other possible sources of influence that may have also contributed to race becoming a subcategory of difference.


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