Vanessa I. CorrederaAug 27, 2023
Reanimating Shakespeare's Othello in Post-Racial America
Edinburgh University Press 2022
Vanessa I. Corredera’s book Reanimating Shakespeare's Othello in Post-Racial America (Edinburgh Univeristy Press, 2022) looks at how that seventeenth-century play and its protagonist was imagined in theatre, television, and other media between 2008 and 2016. Corredera’s analysis ranges from the sketch comedy Key & Peele to Keith Hamilton Cobb’s play American Moor, from ever-persistent tradition of minstrel Othello to the reimagining of Shakespeare’s play by writers of color. Bringing together examples of cultural texts that perpetuate anti-black racism and other artifacts that offer anti-racist possibilities, Corredera’s book helps us to understand this recent moment in U.S. history. At times, to quote Reanimating Shakespeare’s Othello in Post-Racial America, creators like Serial’s Sarah Koenig “have operationalize[d] what this book demonstrates is in fact the common Othello narrative without truly thinking about its force, wielding Shakespearean authority without any regard as to the potentially subjugating purpose for which she is employing it” (127). Other reanimations invite us to shift our perspective and, by extension, reconsider our identifications with characters such as Desdemona or Iago.
Vanessa I. Corredera is Department Chair and Professor of English at Andrews University. Corredera’s scholarship has appeared in Literature Compass, Borrowers and Lenders, Shakespeare Quarterly, and The Routledge Handbook to Shakespeare and Global Appropriation. Corredera also just published Shakespeare and Cultural Appropriation, which is co-edited with Geoffrey Way and L. Monique Pittman (Routledge, 2023). In addition to scholarship, Corredera is a celebrated teacher having won campus-wide honors including the Daniel S. Augsburger Excellence in Teaching Award and the Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.
During the conversation, Vanessa discusses Brandi K. Adams’s article “Black ‘(un)bookishness’ in Othello and American Moor: A Meditation” (Shakespeare, 2021), Keith Hamilton Cobb’s American Moor (Methuen, 2020), Carol Anderson’s White Rage (Bloomsbury, 2016), Kim Hall’s edition of Othello (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006), Imani Perry’s Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop (Duke University Press, 2004), Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017), and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s Racism Without Racists (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003).
John Yargo is Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Boston College. He earned a PhD in English literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, specializing in the environmental humanities and early modern culture. In 2023, his dissertation won the J. Leeds Barroll Prize, given by the Shakespeare Association of America. His peer-reviewed articles have been published or are forthcoming in the Journal for Early Modern Culture Studies, Early Theatre, Studies in Philology, and Shakespeare Studies.