In her 1987 article “‘And wash the Ethiop white’: femininity and the monstrous in Othello,”1 Karen Newman sets out re-examine prior critical analysis of Shakespeare’s Othello with the goal to re-read Shakespeare in ways which […] contest the hegemonic forces, [his] plays at the same time affirm (158).” Her argument scrutinizes the “the male-dominated Venetian world” (152) of the play and the criticism that it has generated against correlating historical perspectives.
Her main thesis about the play asserts that “the union of Desdemona and Othello represents a sympathetic identification between femininity and the monstrous which offers a potentially subversive recognition of sexual and racial difference.” Employing a feminist approach Newman reveals the racial and gender prejudices inherent both in the play and the critique levelled at it from 1600 through to 1980.
“In the United States, Catholic universities have been very apologetic, almost embarrassed by their obligation to adhere to the faith of the Church,” Cardinal Avery Dulles noted in a 2001 address to The Cardinal Newman Society. any university that lacks the guidance of Christian revelation and the oversight of the Catholic Magisterium is, by that very fact, impeded in its mission to find and transmit truth.” Pope Benedict challenged American educators last year “to evoke among the young the desire for the act of faith, encouraging them to commit themselves to the ecclesial life that follows from this belief.” Is that what we find at Notre Dame? We need the witness of those who — like the 367,000 Catholics who signed our petition opposing Notre Dame’s honor to President Obama — refuse simply to give up on the Catholic colleges and universities that were founded, funded and attended by faithful Catholics for decades and even centuries.
“Now is the time for a ‘second spring’ in Catholic university education in the United States,” Fr. John Mc Closkey wrote in a paper last year for the Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education.
In seeking new ways of reading Othello Newman draws on Derrida’s poststructuralist ideas to establish parallels between the relationship of gender and race.
She contends that Desdemona and Othello are equally marginalized by Venetian society; Othello’s race and Desdemona’s progressive sexuality presenting equivalent risk to the dominant white male society.Consider last spring’s spectacle at the University of Notre Dame, which claimed to engage in “dialogue” by publicly honoring the nation’s pro-abortion president.The leaders of the most-celebrated Catholic university in America don’t seem to have a clue anymore as to the meaning and practice of genuine intellectual dialogue, academic freedom or Catholic mission. So it’s not surprising that what alarmed Newman in the 19th century also alarms Pope Benedict today.Disclaimer: This work has been submitted by a student.This is not an example of the work produced by our Essay Writing Service.Newman’s next device is to establish a link between femininity and the racial attitudes inherent in the play.Again she refers to Ridley’s criticism, claiming that his choice of example portrays a generalization of women as “petty,” thereby confirming his gender prejudice.In verifying how these attitudes pervade the play itself, Newman points out that fear of miscegenation functions on two levels.Firstly Shakespeare uses the “white man’s fear of the union of black man and white women (144)” to generate the plot, and secondly through the binary opposition of black and white characteristic of the plays discourse.“This reform and renewal will have consequences far beyond our borders — into the universal Church.It is our moment to evangelize and engage and apply the saving balm of the heart and mind of Christ to our society, which suffers much more from internal decay than it ever will from outside terrorists.” All this will come about by prayer — and the Church would greatly benefit from a modern patron of Catholic colleges and universities, sharing the title with St. Perhaps it is no small matter that Newman’s approved miracle healed a spine.