Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 December 2019
This article explores how black artists and intellectuals approach, challenge, and appropriate the works of William Shakespeare. Beginning with W. E. B. Du Bois's contention “I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not,” I examine how Keith Hamilton Cobb in American Moor interrogates Shakespeare's presentation of black identity. In particular, I suggest that modes of ambivalence undergird black American engagement with Shakespeare and that this ambivalence creates the space for black artists to interrogate Shakespeare's representation of blackness and white culture's gatekeeping of the Shakespearean text and its performance while also reimagining and recasting that representation to fit their contemporaneous needs.
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6 In a discussion at the SAA's annual conference in 2017, Ayanna Thompson spoke about Othello as a “white property.”
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9 Hill, Errol, Shakespeare in Sable (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1984), 11Google Scholar.
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11 Anonymous, “The ‘African Roscius’ with a ‘Vulgarly Foreign’ Accent,” The Times, 11 April 1833.
12 Cobb, 20.