The Great White Bard: How to Love Shakespeare While Talking About Race
CHOSEN AS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: TIME, NPR, The New Yorker, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly
As we witness monuments of white Western history fall, many are asking how is Shakespeare still relevant?
Professor Farah Karim-Cooper has dedicated her career to the Bard, which is why she wants to take the playwright down from his pedestal to unveil a Shakespeare for the twenty-first century. If we persist in reading Shakespeare as representative of only one group, as the very pinnacle of the white Western canon, then he will truly be in peril.
Combining piercing analysis of race, gender and otherness in famous plays from Antony and Cleopatra to The Tempest with a radical reappraisal of Elizabethan London, The Great White Bard asks us neither to idealize nor bury Shakespeare but instead to look him in the eye and reckon with the discomforts of his plays, playhouses and society. In inviting new perspectives and interpretations, we may yet prolong and enrich his extraordinary legacy.
Farah Karim-Cooper is a Director of Education at Shakespeare’s Globe and a professor of literature and Shakespeare studies at King’s College London; she was president of the Shakespeare Association of America from 2021 to 2022 after serving three years on the board of trustees. The holder of an Oxford University TORCH Humanities Cultural Programme Fellowship, she was a visiting fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, from 2022 to 2023. She curated the Globe Theatre’s Shakespeare and Race festivals and its Anti-Racist Shakespeare webinar series. She is a general coeditor of the Folger Shakespeare Editions and the author of works on Shakespeare including Cosmetics in Shakespearean and Renaissance Drama, The Hand on the Shakespearean Stage, and most recently Titus Andronicus: The State of Play.