this assignment, we will demonstrate an understanding of how textual
interpretation varies with different readers and different historical contexts.
For our case study, we will examine the history of audience reception of
productions of Othello
the United States and Great Britain.
at least two historical contexts for the reception of Shakespeare’s Othello. Look at all
the resources in our Course Content about Shakespeare and Othello. Gather
specific evidence to analyze and use in your paper. Prompt: In an essay of
1250 to 1500 words, address the following prompt.
According to each historical period you have selected, what
are the “lessons” of Othello?
(in other words)
How does Othello reflect the
values of the audience and critics of two or more historical periods?
audiences read this play a particular way, but 19century audiences who watched
this role played by a white actor in blackface at a time when slavery was legal
in America simply could not have received the play as we commonly discuss it
did they like this play? What did it mean to them? What does it mean to us?
What did it mean during Shakespeare’s time? These are fascinating questions
we will ponder this term as we consider how textual interpretation varies
within historical contexts. Literature endures, but its lessons can change.
paper should cite at least five sources. You are most
welcome to use sources from our course content. Use MLA style. Google if you do not know how to cite an online article or
At least two of these five sources should be academic. Scholarly
(academic) sources are written by experts for other experts. They have been
peer-reviewed and are considered more credible than the hundreds of (possibly
useful, but mostly amateur) Shakespeare websites you may have found by now.
I will provide
additional academic resources for you in the Week 13 content. Please note that
skimming is often a useful strategy for reading academic sources and finding
the content you need.
Your Essay Should
o Race. Note that the concept of “whiteness” was invented
when Europeans wanted to take land and resources from people with darker skin.
o Gender. How do we feel about Desdemona and Emilia now? How
might they have been viewed differently during periods when women had very
o Human Nature (especially the Nature of Evil). Do pure evil and
pure goodness exist in the world? What are humans like? During Shakespeare’s
time, human behavior might be explained more in terms of God and religion than
psychology and neuroscience.
o War (Military Culture). Does the meaning of the play
change when the setting (war over who controls trade routes in the
is placed to a
contemporary war with Americans (and British) in the
o Religion. What did Christianity and Islam mean to
audience? How has it changed over time for different audiences? Given global
pressures today, how might religion affect our interpretation today?
o Anything else. You do not have to choose ONE of these
elements. However, if you tried to squeeze all five of these into one paper AND
discussed at least two historical periods for each element, you would end up
with a very scattered, unfocused, and ultimately shallow essay.
Other Ideas to Consider
TAKEN FROM OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
SITE (INSTRUCTOR RAMSEY)
Principles of Proper Quotation Format (MLA format)
quotations as short as possible.
2. A quotation is best when incorporated into a sentence that also includes
own wording. If
a sentence begins with quotation marks and ends with quotation marks and
contains only words taken from a source, you have not introduced the quotation
properly. Never have such a “stand-alone” quotation.
3. A sentence
containing a quotation should end with the source (the first piece of
information on the Works Cited list for the source) and page number in
parentheses. Normally this parenthetical citation comes before the final period
but outside any quotation marks at the end of the sentence, but you can insert
it at any natural pause in the sentence.
4. There are
three styles of quotations distinguished by how the passage is incorporated
into your own wording:
A. In a “Tag Quotation,” an introductory phrase (usually
identifying the source of the quotation) is joined by a comma to a full,
According to Grafton, “This need for forbiddenness also accounts for
Charity’s voyeuristic impulse to continue watching Harney” (357). [Why no name in parentheses? Because I introduced the source
before the quotation.]
argues, “This insistence seems strange, even forced” (Smith 113).
B. In an “Analytic Quotation,” a complete sentence of analysis
by the student is followed by a colon introducing a quotation that illustrates
support for the argument. (The quotation illustrates the student’s analysis.)
in North Dormer is intolerably oppressive to Charity: “She
is stifled by its petty bourgeois conventions and longs for adventure”
finds himself wondering why he came:
couldn’t identify a reason for his own behavior, and this troubled him” (Brown
C. In a “Blend Quotation,” a short phrase or even just a
single key word is quoted and included in the student’s own sentence in such a
fluid way that only the
may reveal the material to be a quotation. THIS
IS THE BEST TYPE OF QUOTATION.
“silent lies” prevent the relationship from ever fully recovering (Watson 22).
the outset of Edith Wharton’s Summer, Charity Royall
dramatizes the “American quest for freedom” (Singley 155).
Again, if a sentence begins with quotation marks and ends
with quotation marks and contains only words taken from a source, you have not
introduced the quotation properly. Never have such a “stand-alone”
USING DIRECT QUOTATIONS
quotations directly into the fabric of your sentences.
Tools Smith uses
include professional vocabulary, expert testimony, and personal experience.
“Studies by the Kaufmann Group indicate a 78% increase in depression” (6).
AGAIN, THIS IS POOR USE OF A DIRECT QUOTATION, and it’s
completely unclear. Does it support your identification of professional
vocabulary? Expert testimony? Personal experience? Who knows?!
Instead, write something like this “analytic” quotation:
personal experience as a tool. He also uses expert testimony: “Studies by the
Kaufmann Group indicate a 78% increase in depression” (6).
Or, even better, this “blend” quotation:
professional vocabulary and personal experience as tools to convince his readers
and engage them. Other tools include expert testimony, as seen in his reference
to the study by the Kaufmann Group, which found a “78% increase in depression”
(6) associated with second-hand smoke.
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