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Literature before 1600: OTHELLO

ENGL 020.301
instructor(s):
TR 12-1:30pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 3: Early Literature to 1660 of the Standard Major

Shakespeare’s Othello has been one of the most controversial and popular Shakespearean plays, which addresses such critical issues as race, religion, gender, class, and sexuality. In this class, we will examine these issues in the past as well as the present by studying Othello from a variety of critical perspectives through close-analysis of the play-text and adaptations on film and stage, beginning with the play’s earliest performance. We will first devote several weeks to read slowly and closely the text of the play by paying attention to Shakespeare’s use of language, metaphor, genre, and dramatic form. Then we will investigate the complex meanings of race, religion, gender, social status and sexuality in premodern England through Othello as well as other medieval and early modern materials. Besides recent interpretative criticism and the performance history of the play, including the use of blackface on stage and in film, the course will also include global adaptations of the play in various forms from Verdi’s opera Otello to Bhardwaj’s film Omkara, Toni Morrison’s play Desdemona and Tayeb Salih’s novel Season of Migration to the North.Our goal throughout the course will be discussing the relevance of Othello to our understanding of race, religion, gender, sexuality, class, and immigration today. Using Othello and its afterlives as a case study, therefore, this class aims a deliberate exploration of not only “Literature before 1660,” but also its relevance in contemporary world.