Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-9-2015

Faculty Advisor(s)

Jocelyn L. Buckner


More than four hundred years after his death Shakespeare is still the most performed playwright in the English-Speaking World, and even in some cultures vastly different from Shakespeare’s England. Theatre companies continue to make him relevant by exploring new themes and tailoring the productions to the social mores of contemporary audiences. One particular theme being examined more and more by both scholars and theatre artists is diversity and the role of identity in Shakespeare’s works. Three works in which this can be easily examined are Antony and Cleopatra, The Merchant of Venice, and Othello with particular attention paid to characters Cleopatra, Porta, and Othello respectively. Cleopatra, Portia, and Othello represent examinations and intersections of race and gender in their respective plays when examined through the lenses of both Early Modern English audiences and the culture of the Elizabethan and Jacobean worlds, and late-20th and early 21st century American audiences and the cultural of increased sensitivity to those traditionally ‘othered’ by society. As theaters continue to perform the works of Shakespeare in an ever- evolving culture we must look to new and different themes that will connect an audience rather than disengage it. Cleopatra, Portia, and Othello are particularly affected by perceptions of their sexuality and the role of performative ghosting as they are influenced by cultural attitudes related to their race, gender, and levels of empowerment.


Presented at the Fall 2015 Student Research Day at Chapman University.