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Ibsen’s fifty years as a dramatist saw an ongoing professionalization in the literary field in Scandinavia. This included the development of literary criticism. The numbers of newspapers, critics and reviews increased significantly during the century, in conjunction with the numbers of published books and theatre productions. This chapter focuses on some of the highlights in Ibsen’s career from 1850 to the end of the century. As a playwright, Ibsen was both conventional and controversial, both traditional and radical, but mainly treated with respect. Among the leading critics we find Marcus J. Monrad, Clemens Petersen, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Georg and Edvard Brandes and Carl David af Wirsén. The chapter outlines some of the reviews of Ibsen’s historical plays, his comedies and his contemporary dramas such as A Doll’s House, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck and Hedda Gabler. The field of criticism was dominated by men. This has influenced reception history and scholarly accounts, which until recently did not include female critics as part of the critical institution. The leading female critics of the time nevertheless contributed to establishing Ibsen’s works as starting points for discussions of existential as well as social and political issues.
This essay examines the pervasive use of racist humor in Shakespeare’s comedies through stereotypical characters, exoticism, scapegoating, and ethnic slurs. While we may consider the ways in which Shakespeare’s comedies at times question or critique racist attitudes, ultimately the essay encourages readers to acknowledge and to wrestle with the racist language of the plays. The essay offers readers tools with which to identify and analyze racist humor in Shakespeare’s comedies, and to understand the role of racist humor in the social construction of race and the production of stigmatized groups.
The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race shows teachers and students how and why Shakespeare and race are inseparable. Moving well beyond Othello, the collection invites the reader to understand racialized discourses, rhetoric, and performances in all of Shakespeare's plays, including the comedies and histories. Race is presented through an intersectional approach with chapters that focus on the concepts of sexuality, lineage, nationality, and globalization. The collection helps students to grapple with the unique role performance plays in constructions of race by Shakespeare (and in Shakespearean performances), considering both historical and contemporary actors and directors. The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race will be the first book that truly frames Shakespeare studies and early modern race studies for a non-specialist, student audience.