Home
In this issue
April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 16, 2014 / 16 Iyar, 5774

No Room on Campus for the Bigot Shakespeare

By Suzanne Fields




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If Shakespeare were alive and invited to give the commencement address at a major American university, the favorite spring sport on campus would explode with loud and shrill protest.

Blacks could object to Othello, the angry, "erring barbarian" wife-murderer. Jews could protest Shylock, the stereotypical Jewish moneylender demanding his pound of flesh. Ageists would decry a senile Lear. Feminists would despise Lady Macbeth, the Bard's most powerful woman, as a power-seeking termagant.

And besides all that, he's a very dead white man. Of course, taking offense would require the students to have a modest familiarity with Shakespeare. The Bard is not as well-read in America as he once was. Celebrating the 450th year of his birth, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington this week presented a lecture by scholar James Shapiro on his new book, "Shakespeare in America." He regaled the audience with wonderful stories of how Shakespeare was once a touchstone of our cultural heritage.

Alexis de Tocqueville observed of America in the 1830s that "there is hardly a pioneer hut in which the odd volume of Shakespeare cannot be found. I remember reading the feudal drama 'Henry V' for the first time in a log cabin." Shakespeare's popularity depends now on where and how you live.

When Mr. Shapiro talked to prisoners on Rikers Island in New York, the prisoners wanted to know how many plays Shakespeare wrote and if he is still alive.

The trend of the universities burying Shakespeare with Milton and Chaucer as undeserving white men is subsiding, but the professoriate's submerging Shakespeare and Milton in a crowd of lesser works in the name of "diversity" is shocking to anyone who came of age before the academics diluted the liberal arts.

In a forward to "Shakespeare in America," Bill Clinton remembers that as a high school student in "one of those nineteenth-century frontier towns -- Hot Springs, Arkansas," he was required to memorize 100 lines from Macbeth, including the final soliloquy with the phrase "sound and fury" that William Faulkner took as the title for a novel.

Shakespeare once exemplified diversity itself -- a word that defined depth and breadth of character, insight into human nature, the power of words to enchant and delight, moving beyond a narrow political focus with a single perspective, that's been exploited for mean political purposes. He, like all playwrights, was banished from the stage by Puritans who viewed the theater with suspicion. William Penn, the Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, attacked the "infamous plays of Shakespeare and Ben Johnson," and enacted laws in 1682 against "stage plays."

But by the 19th century, Shakespeare and the theater had regained status, and children read excerpts in their McGuffey Readers, first published in 1839. At least one play a year and many of the sonnets were assigned to junior high and high school students, who could recall a quotation to decorate a term paper to impress the teacher.

Debates about Shakespeare's meanings reflect public differences and prejudices, dictated not by university but personal bias. The North and South interpreted Othello differently because of slavery. Mary Preston, a Shakespeare critic whose Southern sympathies betrayed her judgment, wrote that she found Othello flawless except that he was black. "Othello," she wrote, "was a white man!" Maya Angelou, the contemporary black poet, more than a century later projected her reality: "Shakespeare was a Black Woman."

John Wilkes Booth found justification for assassinating Lincoln in "Julius Caesar," quoting Brutus that "Caesar must bleed for it." Americans skeptical of immigration defended Shakespeare's poetry through successive generations as a standard against foreigners, who would "corrupt" the English language.

Mr. Shapiro unearthed one hilarious approach to Shakespeare from 1846 when the U.S. Army assembled in Corpus Christi, Texas, to prepare for war against Mexico. Congress had annexed Texas as a slave state, and the Army thought that a performance of "Othello" would be a distraction. James Longstreet, who would become Robert E. Lee's "old war horse," and Ulysses S. Grant, the Union commander who would become the 18th president, were alternately cast to play Desdemona. When suspension of disbelief failed, a professional actress was recruited. Casting a rough soldier to portray a demure woman was absurd, but it underscored how Shakespeare's popularity transcended class and region.

Throughout history, we've had a "Jewish King Lear," a "Shakespeare in Harlem" and characters created by the Bard performed in outer space. Vaudeville produced Prince Hamlet as a "Danish pastry," and "West Side Story" offers a Puerto Rican Juliet. That's real diversity, but it has to start with actually reading the Bard. Ay, there's the rub.

Suzanne Fields Archives

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Up

© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles

Quantcast