Title

Race in Shakespeare: A Critical Analysis of Race and Religion in Othello and Titus Andronicus

Presentation Type

Poster

Abstract

When analyzing Othello and Titus Andronicus, many scholars cite race as the primary cause of tragedy for Othello and Aaron, both of whom were Moors. Although there is certainly credence to some scholars' treatment of race, an element complementary to racism that is often overlooked in these plays is the role religion played in Elizabethan times. In this presentation, I contend that the color of their skin is not the primary factor for either character; the primary concern is that they subscribe to Islam rather than Catholicism or Protestantism. In Elizabethan England, “Moor” was a term that held no ethnological value; Moors came from various countries such as India, Asia, and Africa. Rather, the term “Moor” denotes subscription to Islam. In nearly every epoch, racism and religion are inextricably intertwined, and Elizabethan England is not an exception. Shakespeare’s unprecedented account of life in Elizabethan England and perspectives on human nature are equally relevant in the 21st century, especially given that both are significant sources of tension and misunderstanding today. My sources will be primarily from the University of Montana library databases with an emphasis on literary journals and a collection of essays, Shakespeare and Race from Cambridge University Press. In addition, excerpts from the plays will be used to demonstrate that the main concern regarding the Moors in the plays is religion, not race.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 17th, 3:00 PM Apr 17th, 4:00 PM

Race in Shakespeare: A Critical Analysis of Race and Religion in Othello and Titus Andronicus

South UC Ballroom

When analyzing Othello and Titus Andronicus, many scholars cite race as the primary cause of tragedy for Othello and Aaron, both of whom were Moors. Although there is certainly credence to some scholars' treatment of race, an element complementary to racism that is often overlooked in these plays is the role religion played in Elizabethan times. In this presentation, I contend that the color of their skin is not the primary factor for either character; the primary concern is that they subscribe to Islam rather than Catholicism or Protestantism. In Elizabethan England, “Moor” was a term that held no ethnological value; Moors came from various countries such as India, Asia, and Africa. Rather, the term “Moor” denotes subscription to Islam. In nearly every epoch, racism and religion are inextricably intertwined, and Elizabethan England is not an exception. Shakespeare’s unprecedented account of life in Elizabethan England and perspectives on human nature are equally relevant in the 21st century, especially given that both are significant sources of tension and misunderstanding today. My sources will be primarily from the University of Montana library databases with an emphasis on literary journals and a collection of essays, Shakespeare and Race from Cambridge University Press. In addition, excerpts from the plays will be used to demonstrate that the main concern regarding the Moors in the plays is religion, not race.