Othello has long been considered (along with Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth) one of Shakespeare’s four greatest works of tragedy. Recently, however, Othello has taken on a special interest, partly because it deals so intriguingly with such issues as gender, race, and class --issues particularly engaging to so many readers, critics, and playgoers. This volume explores Othello from numerous points of view, paying special attention to such matters as history, aesthetics, and various important productions, especially on film.
This volume, like all others in the Critical Insights series, is divided into several sections. It begins with an introductory piece—“‘What Would the Neighbors Think,’ Othello and London’s Africans,” by Peter C. Herman. This is followed by a Biography of William Shakespeare written by volume editor Robert C. Evans.
A collection of four critical contexts essays are intended to treat the novel
- From a historical vantage point
- In terms of its critical reception
- Using a specific critical lens
- And by comparing and contrasting it with another important work.
This section opens with an article by Evans titled, “Othello’s Iago as Male Witch: The Relevance of Scottish Witchcraft Trials,” followed by a piece written by Joyce Ahn, “A Survey of Recent Editions of Othello.” This essay pays special attention to the introductory essays written by the editions’ editors. The following two articles are written by editor Evans and Edwin Wong respectively. The first, “Robert Burton, Jealousy, and Shakespeare’s Othello,” explores The Anatomy of Melancholy as a resource for understanding the thinking that influenced Othello. The final essay, “Faces of Chance in Shakespeare’s Tragedies: Othello’s Handkerchief and Macbeth’s Moving Grove,” discusses tragedies as “black swan events,” or events that seem impossible but bring devastating consequences when they occur.
Following these four Critical Context essays is the Critical Readings section of this book, which contains the following essays:
- A Prince and a Scholar Watch Othello in 1610, by Matthew Steggle
- Othello and the Late Renaissance Dramatic Convention of Self-Addressed Speech: An Empirical Analysis, by James Hirsh
- “All that spoke is marred”: Speech and Narrative in Othello, by Sara van den Berg
- Beauty in Shakespeare’s Othello, by Brandon Schneeberger
- From Belligerence to Self-Reproach: Othello’s Collapse, Frederick Kiefer
- Othello in Early America, by Kevin J. Hayes
- Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Illustrations of the “Death Scene” in Shakespeare’s Othello, by Jordan Bailey
- D. Laing and the (K)nots of Othello, by Christopher Baker
- The BBC Hopkins-Hoskins Othello: A Survey of Responses, by Robert C. Evans
- Nature versus Nurture: Iago’s Villainy in Two Productions of Othello, by Sarah Fredericks
- Recent Productions of Shakespeare’s Othello: A Survey of Reviews, by Kelsie Kato
- Teaching Othello, by Fran Teague
In the final section, Resources, easy-to-follow lists are provided to help guide the reader through important dates and moments in the author’s life. A selection of further reading is then provided. Each essay in Critical Insights: Othello includes a list of Works Cited and detailed endnotes. Also included in this volume is a Chronology of William Shakespeare’s Life, a list of Additional Works by William Shakespeare, a Bibliography, biographies of the Editor and Contributors, and an alphabetical Index.
The Critical Insights Series distills the best of both classic and current literary criticism of the world’s most studies literature. Edited and written by some of academia’s most distinguished literary scholars, Critical Insights: Othello provides authoritative, in-depth scholarship that students and researchers will rely on for years. This volume is destined to become a valuable purchase for all.
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