Shakespeare's White Others
by David Sterling Brown
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Pub Date 23 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 01 Nov 2023
Examining the racially white 'others' whom Shakespeare creates in characters like Richard III, Hamlet and Tamora – figures who are never quite 'white enough' – this bold and compelling work emphasises how such classification perpetuates anti-Blackness and re-affirms white supremacy. David Sterling Brown offers nothing less here than a wholesale deconstruction of whiteness in Shakespeare's plays, arguing that the 'white other' was a racialized category already in formation during the Elizabethan era – and also one to which Shakespeare was himself a crucial contributor. In exploring Shakespeare's determinative role and strategic investment in identity politics (while drawing powerfully on his own life experiences, including adolescence), the author argues that even as Shakespearean theatrical texts functioned as engines of white identity formation, they expose the illusion of white racial solidarity. This essential contribution to Shakespeare studies, critical whiteness studies and critical race studies is an authoritative, urgent dismantling of dramatized racial profiling.
‘With Shakespeare's White Others, David Sterling Brown engages racial whiteness and provokes interdisciplinary dialogue through his rhetorically accessible ‘critical-personal-experiential' style. The book's unexpected final words, documenting Brown's own racial profiling experience, anticipate the depths of this brilliantly bold Shakespearean discourse that seamlessly blends genres while reimagining the scholarly monograph mode.' Claudia Rankine