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Shakespeare Association of America | Seminar and …
1. Emilia wonderfully portrays what Shakespeare knew of women being repressed. Married to Iago, she endures much brutality.
2. I once asked a feminist friend who knew the play well why Emilia did not earlier expose Iago when she certainly surmised his malevolence?
3. My question came from a male perspective and in and of itself, reflected ignorance of what women are forced to endure. My friend replied with an intelligent feminist perspective: Emilia is a battered women. Possessed with sensibilities that craved recognition, she endured Iago's torments because negative attention is better than none. Importantly, she does expose Iago, but a feminist critique would have encouraged her to do so sooner, and more importantly to embrace the universals of justice and love which would of necessity eschew battering.
More than a metacritic, however, Howard has also offered her own innovative analyses of the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries and, in the process, has enlarged our understanding of the significance of a wide range of early modern 'theatrical practices'."
Seminar and Workshop Descriptions for 2018
On the two-hundredth anniversary of Marx’s birth, this seminar explores how his ideas have influenced the field’s understanding of Shakespeare’s works and can continue to inform the engaged criticism urgently needed now. Topics might include Marx’s critical legacy in Shakespeare studies; Marxism’s relationship to feminism, cultural materialism, presentism, ecocriticism, early modern race studies, the new economic criticism; and its usefulness for critical projects that speak to the present.
1. One would be hard put in the canon to find scenarios more brutal to women. Isabella's plight defines sexual harassment: have sex with me or your brother won't like the consequences, warns Angelo! (What an interesting name), but ironically not inappropriate. When degrading and threatening Isabella, he mocks her with his male persona of impeccable virtue--"Who will believe you?" he responds to her warnings of exposure. Expecting better behavior from Claudio yields no better results. After all pleads the prisoner, why would compromising your virtue matter if I am freed?
2. Interestingly, Shakespeare portrays Isabella as the female counter part of Angelo. Although in a cloistered convent as a novice, she demands the rules be more strict.
3. What can a feminist reading reveal? The play is comedy, although critics have remarked not much different in tone and expected outcome from the tragedies (It is very close to ), but nonetheless its classification demands a happy ending, meaning opposites are reconciled and harmony restored.
4. From a feminist perspective, does that happen? The response is complicated. Isabella and Mariana ask the Duke / Friar to forgive Angelo, and kneel anticipating Lear and Cordelia. Naturally the brutalization should never have occurred, but given the many biblical allusions obviously including the title, forgiveness is the universal Shakespeare dramatizes, but the denouement still remains difficult.
5. The Friar / Duke proposes to Isabella? Does she accept? If yes, a feminist reading might be that women can remain safe only if men (Friar-church / Duke-state combined?) grant them protection. If true, that may be a necessary condition legally, but hardly a sufficient one morally. Even today laws for rape favor men, implying the old misogynist premise that women seduce. Women are still at the mercy of what men dictate. Dr. Freitas' third point addresses that:
Alternative Times and Possible Futures
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