Educational Resources for Teachers
Erickson, Peter, Hall, Kim F. “‘A New Scholarly Song:’ Rereading Early Modern Race.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 67, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1353/shq.2016.0002.
In their scholarly article, Erickson and Hall call for a recentering of race when discussing Shakespeare’s works, arguing that “ignoring […] race will not make it go away as a question for our–or Shakespeare’s–time” (3). Race in Shakespeare’s works should not be ignored solely because understandings of race during his time were different than those now. Nor should conversations surrounding race be shut down by over-emphasizing Shakespeare’s universality (i.e., his works’ importance or relevance to modern audiences). Rather, discussions in the classroom should be open and accepting of diversity in backgrounds, dissenting opinions, and general worldviews. Teachers can find suggestions on how to further promote diversity in the article’s exploration of different sources and media that might be used to analyze race in Shakespeare.
Huang, Alexa. “Romeo and Juliet, Allegory, and the Ethnic Vocabularies of History.” Shakespeare Studies, vol. 46, 2008, 6-19, https://mla.hcommons.org/deposits/download/hc:15744/CONTENT/joubin_romeojuliet_history.pdf/.
This study of the role of ethnicity and culture in Shakespearean works acts as an exemplary model for students in using an allegorical perspective to extend the themes and issues within Romeo and Juliet into cultures outside Italian Verona, seen through an Elizabethan perspective. Students may be influenced or guided by the procedural re-contextualization of Shakespearean topics to incorporate the setting and discussions regarding Romeo and Juliet into their own or outside cultures in order to develop a more worldly understanding of the play’s central themes. Furthermore, it provides an indepth and insightful alternative perspective that broadens the appeal and meaning of the famous tale through the historical and cultural lens of Taiwanese Ethnic history to encourage students to engage in a more well-rounded critical perspective towards the play in newly presented, or unrealized, contexts.
Karim-Cooper, Farah. “Anti-racist Shakespeare.” Shakespeare’s Globe, 26 May 2020, https://www.shakespearesglobe.com/discover/blogs-and-features/2020/05/26/anti-racistshakespeare/. Accessed 20 November 2020.
Professor Karin-Cooper’s article speaks on the historical significance of the polarity of light and dark, including the placement of light over dark in terms of beauty and behavior. It dives deeper into the purity aspect of light and dark by speaking on the Christianity and monarchy that was happening in Shakespeare’s time. Using poetry, paintings and some of Shakespeare’s own work, the article does an effective job of describing the racism happening in Shakespeare’s work without it actually being said outright.
Radel, Nicholas F. “The ethiop’s ear: race, sexuality, and Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet.” The Upstart Crow, vol. 28, 2009, p. 17+. Gale Academic OneFile, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A219520117/AONEu=s8405248&sid=AONE&xid=f18618f9. Accessed 20 Nov. 2020.
This essay highlights the phrase “Ethiop’s ear” used in Romeo’s speech in Act 1, scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet. Although this essay examines Luhrmann’s 1996 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, it is still important to recognize racism in Shakespeare’s text. Many teachers have their students watch this film, pointing to the importance of including this source. Visual media can often help students have a better understanding of the material. Since this film is different in some respects, it is important to have your students watch out for differences they may see. Even though light and dark metaphors can be seen in many pieces of literature across history, there is no excuse to extend such a metaphor into a racial context. When teaching or reading this play it is important to recognize the racial implications of the play. The term “Ethiop’s ear” is one of the most racially motivated terms used in Romeo and Juliet, making it a great learning opportunity for students.