• Critical Race Study, Traditional Literary Scholarship, and Othello's Jealousy

    Author(s):
    Michael L. Hays (see profile)
    Date:
    2022
    Group(s):
    Shakespearean Dramatic Genres
    Subject(s):
    Othello (Shakespeare, William), Influence (Literary, artistic, etc.), Shakespearean criticism
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    critical race study
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/p94t-td36
    Abstract:
    Othello is a test case for assessing the relative abilities of critical race study and traditional literary scholarship to explain Othello’s jealousy. Race critics prefer ‘politically engaged scholarship’ to the traditional standards of ‘sound scholarship’. Its explanation of Othello’s jealousy in terms of his race and Venetian racism suffers the disabilities of special pleading: paucity of evidence, disregard or abuse of text, and, ironically, unwitting racism of its own. Traditional literary scholarship has done little better by applying contemporary social norms or psychological expectations inappropriate to dramatic characters of a different time and place. Both approaches share a radical defect: the imposition of modern concerns on a play for ‘ancients,’ so to speak. Instead, an appropriate interpretative approach considers Othello in the context of a literary tradition, English chivalric romance, familiar to Shakespeare and popular with his audience. Features of chivalry and courtly love explain Othello, his jealousy, and his tragic end, with no debt to race, social norms, or ordinary psychology. This approach is one wherein the play’s the thing to be interpreted from a knowledge of well-known literary resources when Shakespeare wrote Othello and his audience saw and heard it.
    Metadata:
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
    Share this:

    Downloads

    Item Name: doc critical-race-study-traditional-literary-scholarship-and-othellos-jealousy.doc
      Download
    Activity: Downloads: 17