Ian SmithNov 24, 2023
Reading and Misreading Race
Cambridge University Press 2022
In Black Shakespeare: Reading and Misreading Race (Cambridge University Press, 2022), Ian Smith urges readers of Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and Hamlet to develop “racial literacy.” Through both wide social influences and specific professional pressures, Shakespearean critics have been taught to ignore, suppress, and explain away the racial thinking of the plays, a set of evasion strategies that inevitably have political and social ramifications in the contemporary United States. As Ian writes in the introduction, Black Shakespeare is intended to “shift the focus to conditions that shape readers, inform their epistemologies, and influence their reading practices” (3).
Today’s guest is Ian Smith, Professor of English at the University of Southern California. Ian is the author of the previous monograph, Race and Rhetoric in the Renaissance: Barbarian Errors (Palgrave, 2009), as well as one of the most important articles in early modern literary criticism of the last twenty years, “Othello’s Black Handkerchief.” Ian is the current President of the Shakespeare Association of America.
John Yargo is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities at Boston College. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His specializations are early modern literature, the environmental humanities, and critical race studies. His dissertation explores early modern representations of environmental catastrophe, including William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, and John Milton's Paradise Lost. He has published in Early Theatre, Studies in Philology, The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, and Shakespeare Studies.