Shakespeare on the Shades of Racism

"Shakespeare on the Shades of Racism" examines Shakespeare in relation to ongoing conversations that interrogate the vulnerability of Black and brown people amid oppressive structures that aim to devalue their worth. By focusing on the way these individuals are racialized, politicized, policed and often violated in our contemporary world, it casts light on dimensions of Shakespeare’s work that afford us a better understanding of our ethical responsibilities in the face of such brutal racism.

The book is divided into seven short chapters that cast light on contemporary issues regarding racism. Some salient topics that these chapters address include the murder of unarmed Black men and women, the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, anti-immigrant laws, exclusionary measures aimed at Syrian refugees, inequities in healthcare and safety for women of color, international trends that promote white nationalism, and the dangers of complicity when it comes to racist paradigms.

The book puts into conversation Shakespeare with present-day events and cultural products surrounding topics of race, ethnicity, xenophobia, immigration, asylum, assimilation and nationalism as a means of illuminating Shakespeare’s cultural and literary significance in relation to these issues. It should be an essential read for all students of literary studies and Shakespeare.


Ruben Espinosa is associate director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at ASU, where he is also an associate professor in the Department of English’s literature program.