Othello

by: William Shakespeare

Suggestions for Further Reading

Bradbrook, Muriel C. Themes and Conventions in Elizabethan Drama. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition 2002.

Originally published in 1935 by a leading authority on Shakespeare at Cambridge University, this influential volume details numerous writing, staging, and acting conventions that characterized theater in the Elizabethan age. Bradbrook includes chapters on Shakespeare as well as contemporaries such as Christopher Marlowe, Cyril Tourneur, and John Webster.

Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, & Macbeth. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Bradley’s study originally appeared in 1904, and it collects a number of lectures he gave on Shakespearean tragedy during his tenure at Oxford University. Bradley takes an unusual approach to literary criticism in this volume, discussing the characters named in the title as if he knows them personally.

Cavell, Stanley. Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

The six essays collected in this volume by Cavell, an American philosopher, all emphasize a concern with skepticism. Cavell reads Othello’s jealousy and its disastrous consequences as one of several examples in which Shakespeare uses tragedy to explore the danger of refusing to accept certain truths about oneself and others.

Gurr, Andrew. The Shakespearean Stage, 1574–1642. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Originally published in 1970, Andrew Gurr’s book remains the most authoritative overview of Shakespearean drama. This volume is particularly useful for understanding how Shakespeare’s plays were originally produced and staged.

Heilman, Robert. Magic in the Web: Action and Language in Othello. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1956.

In this single-text study, Heilman closely examines the various elements of action (e.g., physical movement, psychological habits) and language (e.g., characters’ habits of speech, patterns in the poetic language). Heilman meditates on the relationship between these elements and how this relationship determines the play’s plot and themes.

Kolin, Philip, ed. Othello: New Critical Essays. New York: Routledge, 2001.

Kolin’s recent edited volume includes a substantial introduction as well as twenty essays by both established and emerging Shakespeare scholars. The essays are of interest primarily for the range of experimental and interdisciplinary methods the authors pursue, thus providing exciting new perspectives on the play.

Rosenberg, Marvin. The Masks of Othello. Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, new edition 1992.

Rosenberg’s classic study, which first appeared in 1961, documents how interpretations of the play have changed over the centuries since its original premiere. In particular, Rosenberg examines various edited stage versions of the play and discusses how the changes editors made reflect social and cultural history.

Shaughnessy, Robert, ed. Shakespeare in Performance. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

Taken together, the essays in Shaughnessy’s edited volume draw on numerous modern critical discourses such as new historicism, feminism, and postcolonialism in order to discuss how the performance of Shakespeare’s plays has transformed from the Renaissance to the present.

Snyder, Susan, ed. Othello: Critical Essays. New York: Garland, 1988.

Snyder’s edited volume collects fifteen historical and modern essays that address various aspects of Othello. Snyder has arranged these essays in chronological order, beginning with work by the eighteenth-century British dramatist Samuel Foote and concluding with a text by the twentieth-century scholar Peter Stallybrass.

Vaughan, Virginia Mason. Othello: A Contextual History. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

In her book, Vaughan begins by placing Othello in its historical context. She does so by closely examining contemporary writing that Shakespeare incorporated into his play. Vaughan also analyzes the play’s performance history in order to determine how social and cultural changes shaped (and reshaped) historical interpretations of the play.


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