Othello in the Moment
The interrogation of racial, sexual, and cultural differences in Shakespeare’s Othello is particularly relevant now. As we consider what it means to be a Moor, a wife, a Turk, a father, or a villain in Shakespeare’s Venice and to twist identity, evidence, and honesty into partisan props, we will explore strategies for reading and performing this tragedy that speaks so vitally not only to Shakespeare’s moment but also to our own. Using Othello as our guide, our shared goal will be to come away with new models for discerning what is in Shakespeare’s plays and to validate why it is so valuable—indeed, crucial—to teach them.
Emily C. Bartels is a professor of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, and Dean of the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English. She is the author of Spectacles of Strangeness: Imperialism, Alienation, and Marlowe (winner of the Roma Gill Prize for best work on Christopher Marlowe), Speaking of the Moor: From Alcazar to Othello, and a number of influential articles on Shakespeare, race, and gender. At Rutgers, she has twice won the School of Arts and Sciences Award for Distinguished Contributors to Undergraduate Education and has received the Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence in Teaching.