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Conversion, Colonization, and Compassion in The Tempest

An online seminar hosted by The University of Western Australia. Part of the CHE Virtual Fellows Seminar Series


Image: John Hamilton Mortimer, Caliban (from "Twelve Characters from Shakespeare"), May 20, 1775. The Met

Date: Wednesday 6 July 2022
Time: 9:00am AWST / 11:00am AEST
Venue: Online via Zoom. Please email emotions@uwa.edu.au for connection details. 
Enquiries: emotions@uwa.edu.au

Focusing on the Indigenized character Caliban, this paper on Shakespeare's The Tempest explores the emotional interrelations between pain and compassion from within the context of the play's representation of cross-cultural exchange and interaction in the New World. The paper argues that Caliban’s body becomes the site for potential conversion through its excitation of Protestant compassion in the colonizers who encounter his suffering. Drawing on the religious history of compassion as it shifted in meaning and experience through the Catholic Middle ages and into the Reformation, I examine how pity came to inflect a distinctive kind of Protestant feeling toward racialized Others, thus serving as a motivator
for uncoerced forms of Indigenous conversion and benevolent evangelization.


Claire Hansen (Australian National University)


Dr Tiffany Hoffman, is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies, at the University of Toronto.