9th Annual Cyprus Conference
on Medieval, Renaissance
and Early Modern Studies
Academic Organising Committee: Dr Stella Achilleos (University of Cyprus); Dr Jane Chick (University of East Anglia, UK); Prof. James Fitzmaurice (Northern Arizona University, USA/Univerity of Sheffield, UK); Prof. Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam University, UK); Dr Sarah James (University of Kent, UK); Dr Richard Maguire (University of East Anglia, UK); Dr Michael Paraskos FRSA (City and Guilds of London Art School and Imperial College London, UK); Dr Laurence Publicover (University of Bristol, UK)
Academic Board: As above, plus: ; Dr Nicholas Coureas (Cyprus Research Centre, Cyprus); Dr Rita Severis (CVAR, Cyprus); Prof. Astrid Swenson (Bath Spa University, UK); and, Dr Violetta Trofimova (St Petersburg University, Russia)
General Co-ordinator: Dr Michael Paraskos FRSA (Imperial College London, UK)
Othello's Island 2022
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Title. Double click me.
Title. Double click me.
Othello's Island 2015
at the Severis Foundation • Nicosia • Cyprus
Speaker: Dr. Lieke Stelling (University of Leiden, The Netherlands)
Title: "Tragic Success: Othello´s Assimilation into Venice"
While Othello (1604) lacks any religious conversions, it is a fine example of a conversion play. Othello suggests in several ways that its titular hero was not born a Christian but baptized before the action of the play begins, and thus presents Othello as a convert. Virtually all research into this topic, however, departs from the understandings of Othello as a former Muslim and Othello as a “Turk Play.” In this paper I will demonstrate that Othello’s conversion has a much wider significance. Othello is the only play in early modern English drama that revolves entirely around the fortunes of a character after his adoption of a new religious identity, regardless of specific religions.
The play thus offers answers to the questions raised by the interfaith conversion plays of the period, which refrain from depicting the new Christian identity of stage converts or their entrance into their new religious society. Examples are Robert Greene’s Selimus (1592), The Merchant of Venice (1596), Robert Daborne’s A Christian Turned Turk (1610) and Thomas Dekker and Philip Massinger’s The Virgin Martyr (1620). Providing an analysis of the play in a broad context of conversion theatre, this paper argues that Othello’s downfall is not so much the result of his racial or perceived religious difference, or, indeed Venetian xenophobia itself, but the tragic consequence of his success as a convert who fully adopts and internalizes Venetian understandings of religious identity as an inherent and inalienable part of the self.
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