Celia R. Daileader, “Racism, Misogyny, and the Othello Myth”

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From the publisher’s webpage:

Through readings of texts spanning four centuries, and bridging the Atlantic – from genres as diverse as English Renaissance drama, abolitionist literature, gothic horror and contemporary romance – Daileader questions why Anglo-American culture’s most widely-read and canonical narratives of inter-racial sex feature a black male and a white female and not a black female and a white male. This study considers the cultural obsession with stories patterned on Shakespeare’s Othello alongside the more historically pertinent, if troubling, question of white male sexual predation upon black females. Daileader terms this phenomenon ‘Othellophilia’ – the fixation on Shakespeare’s tragedy of inter-racial marriage to the exclusion of other definitions and more optimistic visions of inter-racial tension. This original study argues that masculinist racist hegemony used myths about black male sexual rapacity and the danger of racial ‘pollution’ in order to police white female sexuality and exorcise collective guilt over the sexual slavery of women of color.

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