Ian Smith on Systematic Whiteness and Transforming the Way We Interpret Shakespeare ‹ Literary Hub


For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today?

Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.

For centuries, Shakespeare’s works have been scrutinized by scholars and fans eager to engage with and learn from the texts. And yet, in spite of the prominence of race in today’s media headlines and public discourse, the questions of racialized blackness and whiteness raised by Shakespeare’s plays are often resisted.

In this episode, Jacke talks to Shakespeare scholar Ian Smith, author of Black Shakespeare: Reading and Misreading Race, about the role that systemic whiteness has played on the interpretation of Shakespeare’s plays.

Plus authors David Castillo and William Egginton select the last books they will ever read.


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