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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: January ::
Shakespeare Blacks and Jews
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0112  Thursday, 15 January 2004

[1]     From:   Pier Paolo Frassinelli <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Jan 2004 14:50:57 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews

[2]     From:   Colin Cox <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Jan 2004 08:03:53 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Jan 2004 15:40:57 -0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews

[4]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Jan 2004 21:25:04 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews

[5]     From:   Steven Marx <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jan 2004 07:16:44 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pier Paolo Frassinelli <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Jan 2004 14:50:57 +0200
Subject: 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews

On Othello's blackness. The OED entry on "Moor" states: "Originally: a
native or inhabitant of ancient Mauritania, a region of North Africa
corresponding to parts of present-day Morocco and Algeria. Later
usually: a member of a Muslim people of mixed Berber and Arab descent
inhabiting north-western Africa (now mainly present-day Mauritania), who
in the 8th cent. conquered Spain. In the Middle Ages, and as late as the
17th cent., the Moors were widely supposed to be mostly black or very
dark-skinned, although the existence of 'white Moors' was recognized."

Some of the early modern examples cited are also interesting:

"1547 A. BORDE _Introd. Knowl._ (1870) xxxvi. 212 Barbary...  the
inhabytours be Called the Moores: ther be whyte mores and black moors";
"1555 R. EDEN tr. Peter Martyr of Algeria _Decades of Newe Worlde_
f.355, Ethiopes...which we now caule Moores, Moorens, or Negros"; "1632
W. LITHGOW _Totall Disc. Trav._ v. 232 A Towne inhabited by Christians,
Arabs, and Moores: not blacke Moores, as the Affricans be, but ...a
kinde of Egyptians".

Pier Paolo Frassinelli
University of the Witwatersrand
South Africa

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Jan 2004 08:03:53 -0800
Subject: 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews

I also suggest John Gross' book Shylock.

As to an anti-black sentiment in England at the time, Elizabeth had
recently passed a law (edict) demanding the removal of all Africans from
the country.

-- Colin Cox Artistic Director Will & Company

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Jan 2004 15:40:57 -0800
Subject: 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews

Hi All,

Since this is vaguely on topic, I thought I'd ask the list's help in
finding an article that I remember reading (and I think it was new)
within the last three or four years.  The article was on how diplomatic
relations with the corsairs of North Africa changed between the reigns
of Elizabeth and James.  Elizabeth maintained diplomatic relations
against Spain as a common enemy, but James all but declared war, thereby
causing North African corsairs to raid into the Thames.

As memory serves, this article tied the distinction in to differences
between the Q and F texts of Othello, or perhaps only to the reception
of the play under different reigns.

Unfortunately, I wasn't planning on doing anything on Othello at the
time, and took no note of where I'd found it.  Now I think that it would
be very interesting for a student of mine, and can't find it.  I thought
that it was in Renaissance Quarterly, but isn't in any of the issues I have.

Yours truly,
Sean Lawrence.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Jan 2004 21:25:04 -0500
Subject: 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews

Has anyone mentioned Kim Hall's Things of Darkness: Economies of Race
and Gender in Early Modern England?

Bill Godshalk

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steven Marx <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Jan 2004 07:16:44 -0800
Subject: Shakespeare Blacks and Jews
Comment:        SHK 15.0093 Shakespeare Blacks and Jews

A chapter in my book, Shakespeare and the Bible (OUP 2000) argues that
one element of Shakespeare's portrayal of Jews in The Merchant of Venice
stems from his reading of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, wherein a
struggle between followers of Jesus and traditional Jews over rival
interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures is construed as a will contest
between older and younger brothers for the birthright and blessing of
the father. Paul represents new Christians as the younger son, Jacob (or
Israel) and traditional Jews as the older, supplanted son, Esau.
(4:13-14) An analogous struggle of interpretation can be found in the
pro- and anti- Pauline positions of modern critiques of the play, for
instance those of Lewalski and Girard. I believe Shakespeare adopts
Paul's reconstructed narrative of Biblical history, but exposes and
undermines it in a variety of ways.

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