Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello” is widely consider to be among his greatest plays, in part because the issues at the heart of it remain so compelling to us still. We will discuss the complex intersection of the themes of race, religious difference, and gender in this play and the challenges we might face in teaching this play. By exploring the historical context we will become better acquainted with the notions of race and gender in Shakespeare’s time and with the religious conflicts that were also so much a part of this historical period. Most importantly we consider these issue from a literary perspective - what are the generic conventions that govern the play, what were Shakespeare’s sources and how does he modify them through his artistry? Our seminar will do this through a brief review of current scholarship of the play and discussions of keys scenes.
Seminar led by Scott Manning Stevens, Newberry Library