Through the multiple stories told by and about Othello in Shakespeare’s play, narratives of origin, identity, and romance are manipulated to tragic ends. In this course, you will unwind these stories to understand not only how Iago turns Othello against Desdemona, but how storytelling is used to connect characters, establish identities, and interrogate the very nature of truth.

In addition to a close reading of the play itself, you will learn about the different contexts in which Othello has been told since the tragedy was first performed in 1603. This course covers the history of the “Moors” in England and Venice, and the ways in which Shakespeare’s own audiences might have responded to Othello’s character. Modern retellings in film, print, and on stage are also covered. How do Orson Welles and Laurence Fishburne interpret Othello? How has the use of blackface in the story’s production changed over time? How does Othello’s story change when transported to new cultures? Is there an “American” Othello?

Through exposure to timely perspectives, learners will challenge their understanding of Othello as literary artifact and as embodied theater.  

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