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A Contextual History


  • Date Published: December 1996
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521587082

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About the Authors
  • Shakespeare's Othello has exercised a powerful fascination over audiences for centuries with its portrayal of destructive jealousy. This study is a major exercise in the historicisation of Othello in which the author examines contemporary writings and demonstrates how they were embedded in the text of Othello: discourse about conflict between Turk and Venetian treatises on the professionalisation of England's military forces, representations of Africans and blackamoors, and narratives depicting jealous husbands. The second section traces Othello's history in England and the United States from the Restoration to the late 1980s, using illustrations where appropriate. Each chapter highlights a specific historical period, actor or production to demonstrate how and why elements from Shakespeare's text were emphasised or repressed. Othello is revealed as a significant shaper of cultural meaning.

    • First study to focus uniquely on the historical contexts of Othello
    • Extensive use of primary sources from the Jacobean period to elucidate the play's themes
    • Discusses performance on stage and film with illustrations
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… as a nuanced and selective work of Shakespearian scholarship, Othello: a Contextual History is a substantial achievement. Vaughan uses her previous bibliographical and editorial work to fine effect, compiling rare illustrations, opening up some new perspectives … and establishing the mechanisms whereby the play makes and is made by diverse cultural meanings and attitudes'. Theatre Research International

    Othello: a Contextual History represents a genuinely new way of doing Shakespeare studies; a synthesis of performance and context histories that works only because so intelligently and compellingly historicised. It will be deeply influential.' Meridian

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 1996
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521587082
    • length: 260 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 154 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • contains: 19 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Jacobean Contexts:
    1. Global discourse: Venetians and Turks
    2. Military discourse: knights and mercenaries
    3. Racial discourse: black and white
    4. Marital discourse: husbands and wives
    Part II. Representations:
    5. Othello in Restoration England
    6. Amateur versus professional: the Delaval Othello
    7. William Charles Macready and the domestic Othello
    8. Salvini, Irving, and the dissociation of intellect
    9. 'The Ethiopian Moor': Paul Robeson's Othello
    10. Orson Welles and the patriarchal eye
    11. Othello for the 1990s: Trevor Nunn's 1989 Royal Shakespeare Company production

  • Author

    Virginia Mason Vaughan, Clark University, Massachusetts

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