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Shakespeare's Language and Race, with Patricia Akhimie and Carol Mejia LaPerle

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 177

Close reading of Shakespeare is not a new concept. But this kind of close reading is more challenging—and it can help us interpret Shakespeare’s words in new and profound ways. Our guests are two contributors to the new Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race: Dr. Patricia Akhimie, who wrote a chapter on race in the comedies, and Dr. Carol Mejia LaPerle, who wrote a chapter on race in the tragedies. Together, they explore the ways that Shakespeare’s language—think descriptors like “fair,” “sooty,” “alabaster”—constructs and enshrines systems of race and racism. Akhmie and LaPerle are interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

Listen to Shakespeare Unlimited on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud, NPR One, or wherever you find your podcasts.

FolgerShakespeareLibrary · Shakespeare’s Language and Race, with Patricia Akhimie and Carol Mejia LaPerle

Patricia Akhimie and Carol Mejia LaPerleDr. Patricia Akhimie is an Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. She is currently a Research Fellow at the Folger.

Dr. Carol Mejia LaPerle is Professor and Honors Advisor for the Department of English at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. She has participated in numerous Folger Institute scholarly programs and was a speaker in the 2019 Race and Periodization Conference.

The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race was published by Cambridge University Press and became available in the US in February 2021.

From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published October 26, 2021. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “A Whole Theater of Others,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. Leonor Fernandez edits a transcript of every episode, available at We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.

Previous: Shakespeare in Latinx Communities | Next: Bringing Latinx Voices to Shakespeare


Shakespeare and Beyond: “Racist Humor and Shakespearean Comedy”
Read an excerpt from Dr. Patricia Akhimie’s chapter from The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race.

Shakespeare Unlimited: Race and Blackness in Elizabethan England
We talk to Dr. Ambereen Dadabhoy about the early modern racial ideologies reflected in two plays: George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar and William Shakespeare’s Othello.

Shakespeare Unlimited: Black Lives Matter in Titus Andronicus
Dig deep into race in Shakespeare’s bloody Roman play and examine the character of Aaron the Moor with Dr. David Sterling Brown.


MICHAEL WITMORE: Close reading of Shakespeare is not a new concept. But this kind of close reading? This is much more challenging.

From the Folger Shakespeare Library, this is Shakespeare Unlimited. I’m Michael Witmore, the Folger’s director. As awareness grows about just how fraught certain words can be, many are struggling in classrooms or on Zoom calls with how their word choices reflect or ignore the realities of a multicultural society. Because language is a huge part of that struggle, it’s a thorny maze for some and a minefield for others.

This is a maze that Shakespeare helped create, and that teachers are learning to navigate. Many professors today are careful to make sure students stop and think more deeply about the words in his plays and poems. Words like “alabaster” or “fair,” phrases like “sooty bosom” or “a feasting presence full of light.” What these words reveal about our understanding of humanity—how it is shared or limited to certain groups or associated with certain traits—that’s a thread that scholars are following through the maze.

This podcast is a conversation about the words in Shakespeare and about their impacts. We are led through this thicket of words by two professors who’ve contributed to the new Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race. Dr. Carol Mejia LaPerle of Wright State University wrote the chapter on race in Shakespeare’s tragedies. Dr. Patricia Akhimie of Rutgers University wrote the chapter about race in Shakespeare’s comedies.

We call this podcast “A Whole Theater of Others.” Drs. Patricia Akhimie and Carol Mejia LaPerle are interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.


BARBARA BOGAEV: Carol, let’s start with you. It is pretty clear that Shakespeare often explores contemporary biases and understandings, either to interrogate them or to sometimes pander to his audience. So, let’s start with a concrete example that you mentioned. It happens when Brabantio talks about Othello’s “sooty bosom” as something to fear not to delight. So, what is Shakespeare up to there? Why the pointed adjective “sooty?”

CAROL MEJIA LAPERLE: I think it’s pointing to a couple of things. On the one hand, it’s referring to sort of the history of theater and the use of blackface or other forms of converting a white actor into a performance of the devil in medieval plays. So, it is in some ways a kind of a melodramatic moment.

Partly it is an instruction manual; like, you are supposed to fear somebody who looks like this. But it’s also richly evoking a theatrical performance of all the ways that Blackness has been equated with a performance of evil.

BOGAEV: Okay, we dove in really deep, really quickly here. And you mentioned that this goes back to medieval times to the church, right?

LAPERLE: That’s right.

BOGAEV: That blackface characters in morality plays in the church signified evil. Just remind us, what were those plays like and who were the blackface characters? Were they demons? Were they literally the devil?

LAPERLE: They would have been the devil and they would have been figures of temptation, so the external can reflect some kind of internal depravity. And that just… in this culture, is characterized as Black.

BOGAEV: That evolution went straight to theater in Shakespeare’s time and it would be immediately understood by the audience. Patricia, I want to turn to you. So, this idea of Blackness as a symbol of evil, was it used in the same way in comedy?

PATRICIA AKHIMIE: You can absolutely find it in comedy. I think that’s maybe one of the most interesting things about pairing the discussion of Shakespeare and race in the comedies and in the tragedies, is that there are a lot of commonalities there. That some of these stereotypical stigmatizations of Blackness are ubiquitous.

What’s really interesting about seeing it on the stage though, is that we see the kind of demonized figure from the mind take full 3D form on the stage. And the body is disguised in these really evocative ways that audiences would have responded to at the time and which we still respond to now.

BOGAEV: Yeah. You say this really provocative thing that, “Shakespeare is employing racist humor a lot,” and that, in part, it acts to create social cohesion among the in-group. So, let me see if I understand that. Do you mean by that, that it reinforces an us-and-them dynamic and the idea that, “Here we in the audience, we can all laugh at these people because we here in the room are the in-group or the top of the heap?”

AKHIMIE: Absolutely. You know, it’s not just Shakespeare. That’s how racist humor functions and has functioned, sort of, throughout time, is to reaffirm our ideas of who is in an in-group and who is in an out-group.

It’s also derogatory and it’s harmful to a real group of people out there, but at the moment that the racist joke is told and appreciated and laughed at, its primary function is to make us feel good about ourselves being part of that in-group. So, absolutely yes.

LAPERLE: I would love to add to that, Patricia, because your essay made me rethink what it means for me to sit in a theater and laugh. And, you know, the division that you’re pointing out, that for some people, it is an absolute neutral and it feels just like, “Well, we’re just having fun. We’re just in on the joke.” That’s a particular kind of privilege. Because if some of that language is actually invoking the Black, “Ethiope,” that’s not funny if you are identifying with what is being attributed as the subject of mockery. So, it’s actually kind of a lovely moment of, like, reading your essay that really helps me think about what it was like to think about something as funny and to think about something as not funny at all, while everybody around me is laughing, right?

BOGAEV: Yeah, and it gets really fraught obviously. But you alsoPatricia, say, you represent both sides of the coin and it’s really intriguing, because you say, you know, it’s useful to define Shakespeare’s comedy in terms of the ability to make audiences laugh, but also its ability to enable audiences,—and this is a quote—”To think the unthinkable by speaking, what might otherwise be unspeakable.” I don’t mean to whitewash it, it’s— language is so fraught. I’ve just stepped right into it—I don’t mean to whitewash this, but this is the kind of the other side of the coin.

AKHIMIE: Well, when I think about racist humor, I think about how it’s permissive, that it gives us the opportunity to tell the truth. That is to say, something that we might not say ourselves in mixed company, but in the theater that we laugh together. When we do that, we make things that aren’t necessarily true on their face—right? race isn’t real—but in the theater, we give ourselves permission to make it true by laughing at the jokes together.

BOGAEV: So, we create the construct and we make it real.

AKHIMIE: That’s right. How are stereotypes created and how are they maintained? One of the ways is through communal laughter.

BOGAEV: Yeah. Now Carol, you write about getting back to specific examples, an example of in Titus Andronicus, that it taught the audience that to be Black is to be a harbinger of social disaster. And that the play teaches its audience to read the Black body as a catalyst to social disruption. So, what do you mean by that, “The Black body as a catalyst to social disruption?”

LAPERLE: Part of where my analysis of that comes from is the importance of the Roman plays for Shakespeare stage. The way that the Roman tragedies were trying to convey a formula for how to think about empire, right at the moment that those aspirations are coming out for England.

The moment that I’m talking about there, for instance, in Titus Andronicus, speaks to the way that Roman culture is now opened up and it has welcomed the Goths. With that kind of openness, there is the threat, in this case embodied by Aaron the Moor.

I’d love to point at that moment at a really quirky scene in the play where Titus plays out the craziness of a revenger by smacking at a fly. Shoot… no, actually his brother kills the fly, and he said, “Well, because it’s a cold Blackamoor.” What it sort of indicates is that the specter of Blackness is something that’s supposed to alert you to something you should fear.

BOGAEV: Because he says the fly is Black.

LAPERLE: That’s right. Just by virtue of that, that the fly is Black, it becomes the actual recipient of that destruction. Because that’s always sort of how this play or how the projection of Black evil works, right? On the one hand, it’s supposed to embody social annihilation and destruction. And that is, Aaron is hyperbolic evil, almost.

But on the other hand, what’s actually happening is it normalizes the treatment of that Black body. It kind of justifies the treatment of that Black body as an object of punishment. So that when I say it’s a catalyst for social destruction, it’s not so much that it is, but rather that to present it as a catalyst of social destruction is to justify its destruction. So, that’s kind of how I feel it’s working, especially in a play like that.

AKHIMIE: And if I could just sort of jump in there, because I think this is one of the things that Carol’s essay does incredibly well. It shows us how the tragedies, in casting Black bodies in this role teach audiences how to respond to Black bodies, which would obviously have a real-world effect.

But Carol doesn’t really stop there. She says the tragedies also problematize that strategy because the tragedies give us all kinds of dilemmas in this simple dichotomy of dark and light being sort of good and evil.

For example, it gives us the mixed-race baby in Titus Andronicus. It gives us villains who present as white. It gives us Moors who are actually valiant. It gives us Black women who are desirable and then asks us, so what do we do with these anomalies? And that those complications are also a really important part of what tragedy does for early modern audiences in terms of understanding race.

BOGAEV: So what do the comedies do then, Patricia? Another thing that I find really provocative in your essay is that you say that you look to the comedies to explore what race is, rather than making an assumption about what it is or what it was.

AKHIMIE: Yeah, and there are obviously lots of different approaches to thinking and talking about race in early modern texts and in Shakespeare. One of the things I do is in addition to looking at, for example, the stereotypical Black body, I’m also looking for what I think of as building blocks of racism.

How do we create groups and how do we include and exclude people from those groups? How do we rank those groups from like, “Super great!” to “Not-so-great?” And then how do we decide what kinds of privileges will be ascribed to different groups?

In the comedies, we see characters who are really struggling against systems that are oppressive for reasons they can’t quite explain.

BOGAEV: Like who?

AKHIMIE: For example, Malvolio was one of my favorite characters from the comedies. He is not a bad guy, prudish, difficult… But all he really wants: he wants to marry up, and he would like everyone to be respectful of him.

And within the context of Twelfth Night where Malvolio appears, he is just short—the way he’s treated makes him, sort of, just short of a villain. The other characters, understanding that these are the things Malvolio wants for himself, imagine beating him violently, hanging him, castrating him; the lengths to which they fantasize about injuring him as a punishment for those aspirations is kind of horrifying.

BOGAEV: They physically imprison him, yeah.

AKHIMIE: They physically imprison him, yes. There’s sort of no end to the punishments. I find that extremely interesting because what Malvolio lets us explore is the question that he asks at the end of the play when he says to Olivia, “Tell me, why?”

I think the comedy has given us the opportunity to see characters in situations they wouldn’t normally be in because the comedy has given us the wackiest of scenarios that involve shipwrecks, and coups, and people in disguise, and all kinds of stuff like that. But because they’re in those positions, it gives them the opportunity to talk about why things are the way they are and why they’re not so fair for everyone.

BOGAEV: So now one of the things we’re talking about here is dehumanizing people. And you’re right that one commonality between characters like Malvolio and others in the comedies is that they’re recognizable by their lack of humanity. Some don’t even have names, you’re right. So, who are you talking about there? Which ones don’t have names?

AKHIMIE: Well, one common practice is to compare oneself negatively to a Jew, to a Moor, to a Blackamoor. It gives us a window into how people in the early modern period distinguished themselves from other groups with which they actually had a relationship.

The early modern London, the early modern world, it’s a cosmopolitan place. It’s not actually possible to kind of have a full siloed community of, “Just us.” So the fact that these phrases are common, despite that reality is to me fascinating.

BOGAEV: We’re talking a lot about the exploring otherness and the outsiders. You’ve mentioned a couple of times, Shakespeare’s period was a period of great transition in London in population explosion, incredible diversity, and a lot of social anxiety about that as there always is in times of transition.

Carol, you give the example of Aaron the Moor in Titus Andronicus as one of the racialized figures who infiltrate the commonweal from inside. So, what’s the message here? Is it just, you know, “It’s a time of transition, there are a ton of new people all over the place, stick with your own and you’ll be okay?” Or is it something much more complex?

LAPERLE: Well, I think partly at face value, there is that, and people can come at it that way, which is to sort of see it as a warning of what it means to open up your borders and let others in, right? But, you know, if you think about how this even functions, this is—you know, and the fact that Aaron, as quote-unquote “dangerous” as he is to the commonweal, is, in fact, the only parent who cares for his child at all, and is also, you know—to make this point—the only one who doesn’t eat human remains at the end, right? I’m always very curious about the issue of, he is punished for what he might do.

So, yes, this is partly warning about letting insiders in, but there are also moments if we look closely of how complicated that is. Antony and Cleopatra is another great example where we know that Cleopatra, as this African beauty, has been seen as a corrupting factor in Antony’s military demise.

But at the same time, some of the language that comes out of that union is the most poetic in Shakespeare’s opus. And in fact, she conveys the complications of that attraction of interracial desire. The complications of, in this case, also the fear of miscegenation. However, she’s an incredibly alluring character with some of the most compelling lines and some of the most complex and dynamic expressions of love. So, that, I think, is part of complicating this straightforward warning against outsiders.

AKHIMIE: Well, there’s something really important about the point that Carol makes, not only about this problem that she’s just described in which audiences come to understand, for example, Black bodies as desirable, Black fathers as loving. She also talks about white bodies as well.

In our discussion of race today, we’ve been talking a lot about, you know, dark skin and bodies that are othered in some ways, but it’s also about a project of producing whiteness. And Carol talks about the production of whiteness and of the white female body in the tragedies as an idealized body. I think that’s really important, and I’ll stop talking because I’d rather hear Carol talk about it, but I wanted to make sure and get that in there.

LAPERLE: I mean, there’s multiple examples. I think visually speaking, there’s that famous Ophelia portrait that plays out what is, in fact, a verbal description, but her fairness is elevated. That’s also Romeo’s reaction to Juliet when he enters the tomb: that she’s this glorious, bright light within that space. Desdemona is of course the “alabaster,” right? “Monument.”

Within those tableaus, you know, the woman is passive, but her passivity is loaded with all kinds of pathos. I mean, we keep coming back to maybe some of the differences and similarities between tragedies and comedies, but one of the ways that tragedies, I think, functions in a society is that it conveys a place to explore extreme emotions. And the height of that pathos, the height of that empathy, is a dead white woman.

This is part of that larger discussion we’re having about performance, drama, art, and culture. So, it’s also teaching you who to fear, but it’s also teaching you who to mourn. That’s very specifically, in this case, and over and over in the tragedies, the white woman.

AKHIMIE: Carol, do you think that just as those Black fathers, for example, in the plays represent something important for early modern English audiences…. I’m wondering if the fact that that idealized white body, which symbolizes, like virtue, goodness, the fact that it’s sort of, I don’t know… well, for lack of a better word… dead?

LAPERLE: Dead, I was going to say dead.

BOGAEV: So, convenient to have a woman dead. This was leading to my next question because being dead, I mean… literally you’re dehumanized, you’re devoid of life. And we’re talking about dehumanization and how Shakespeare uses it.

I feel like I might be asking the same question over and over again, but Patricia, does Shakespeare dehumanize the same way in the tragedies as he does in the comedies? I think of the tragedies as more straightforward. That all I’m thinking about is Macbeth or Hamlet. My focus is so laser-like on the main character and the fall. The comedies are such a different mode of thinking about that, more questioning, more meandering. I mean, is it done by a different, or the same, process?

AKHIMIE: I mean, maybe that’s the point is that the comedies ask a tougher question, which is sort of, is there room for more than one human in this play? You know, in my life?

BOGAEV: In this world?

AKHIMIE: In this world, right, exactly. That, surprisingly, is a tough question for us to answer.

BOGAEV: Hmm. Well then does the dehumanization in the comedies serve a different purpose than in the tragedies?

AKHIMIE: Well, I mean, my sense is that the purpose it serves, thinking about comedy being communal, is that it allows us to talk about together something that’s very uncomfortable for us to talk about, which is that we all experience dehumanization to some extent.

We live in a world that is defined by different types of groupings that are beneficial for some and detrimental for others, whether it’s class or race or the combination of those two or religion or something else. So, we run into barriers, not of our own making, that no matter how hard we try that there are questions of access. So, there are questions of prejudice that we run into.

When we talk about dehumanization in the comedies, what we’re talking about is the dilemma that almost all of the characters run into. The one that we all as audience members find most familiar, which is that you can’t always get what you want. Sometimes that’s your own fault, and sometimes it’s the fault of forces much larger than yourself. There’s something inherently funny about that because it’s really painful and it’s really familiar.

LAPERLE: I would love to jump in and just say how much I appreciate your work on this, Patricia. Your book Race and Conduct in Early Modern Culture is so formative about thinking about exactly those moments, right?

Patricia has this great reading of Caliban and pinches, which has always just been read as like, a kind of torture by the magician Prospero that he deserves. But you make this wonderful, really complicated reading of pinches and deprivation and how much, like, that kind of pain is embroiled in what is denied him. Not some kind of just punishment towards his monstrosity, but rather the way that the structures around him have created the conditions of that pain.

You know, that’s an extreme example, but you run through the gamut of so many ways that the way that you read the Rude Mechanicals. Just so many ways that these kinds of social barriers are often blamed on the person who’s not getting it, but in order to obscure the conditions in which they’re not getting it, right?

So, yeah, I think it’s just such a brilliant way to think about Shakespeare and make Shakespeare relevant today. Because these actually really do resonate just the way that you’ve formulated that notion of categorizing people and what are they allowed to have as part of marking what their humanity means.

AKHIMIE: No, I was going to say, it’s really hard to hear Caliban talk about how he had once had access to education, and then that access was taken away from him. Then in the play, when he’s described as ignorant, as unlettered, as having rude speech, then you have to ask, “Well, what would have happened if he’d been able to complete his education, the one that was removed from him?” There are these kinds of like poignant backstories that are folded into the plays.

BOGAEV: Well, this really supersedes the question I wanted to ask you really in summary, but I’m going to ask it anyway. Which is that, we know that the 17th century harbored racist attitudes, the attitudes that we see in these plays. But then there are layers. So, what should we get out of the knowledge that these attitudes are there?

AKHIMIE: I’d start by saying that despite the fact that, as you say, we know that the 17th century is, as I often say to my students, like, perhaps the most racist time period… I don’t know that it’s really a given.

As I was writing this essay, one of the things I found surprisingly difficult was that I realized that the most important intervention to make first was to simply say that Shakespeare’s comedies are filled with racist humor and that that’s not something that’s frequently acknowledged. So, I think I’d start by sort of changing the premise of the question that maybe that acknowledgement is actually an important first step.

LAPERLE: I agree. For instance, part of some of the questions around this, and just acknowledging that it is there, and that in fact there’s a really important role that it can play. You know, I’m thinking about my students, for instance, I absolutely find that the question, for instance, about students saying, “Okay, you know, when you talk about ‘dark’ and ‘fair,’ isn’t that just being pretty or whatever?” And I always like to take a moment and ponder on that.

You know, when the Duke [in Othello] says, “Far more fair than black,” we spend a lot of time unpacking the layers of that. Because when he says, “Far more fair than black,” those five words have nothing to do with beauty, right? It’s coding a whole other set of layers about moral judgment and social belonging. In that statement, “black” is unwanted, diminished, or evil. Then, because you’re “far more fair than black,” you’re good. The “fairness” therefore stands in for belonging and value and all those things.

Just in those five words, you can see how students, by acknowledging that, there are layers to this language. There are ways in which its ostensible application can just feel so naturalized, as if, like, “That’s actually a compliment!” Right? So, in fact, when you see the layers that are at work, they are actually able in some ways to read really interestingly and really critically.

I mean, I think the gift of that is they take something that they thought they knew what it meant. It’s very provocative and very freeing for them to be able to say, “Look at the way a context of this history gives me an even richer understanding of the complicated relationships between these characters and the complicated attitudes about social belonging in this play.” So it’s just—you know, in some ways it’s just like a really rich moment to be able to bring in these questions.

AKHIMIE: And I think once you’ve done the sort of work that Carol is describing, once you give those analytical tools to students, it’s much easier to bring those to work in your life, current day, things that are happening all around us, where often the language we use when we talk about race, it’s highly coded. But it’s treated as if it were straightforward. So, having the ability to break apart and understand the many layers that go into a word as simple as “fair” becomes an essential skill.

BOGAEV: Patricia, when you teach, do your students pick up on this fact that really maybe the early modern period wasn’t very different from the world we live in, or as different as they thought it was?

AKHIMIE: That’s always my hope, and some students, I think, do appreciate that and come to understand that. And also come to understand that race isn’t, sort of, one thing or one easily recognizable thing.

An exercise that I do with my students is I say, you know, “Now we’ve come to the end of the semester. You have learned all about race in the early modern period. If you could define one word—let’s make a glossary of terms and you define one word”—and “fair” is actually one of the words that students often choose to define—and explain to someone who has never read Shakespeare or hasn’t read many early modern texts—explain to them how important this term is and all of the things that it means, so that when they encounter it in early modern texts or elsewhere, they too will have this wealth of knowledge about how that term works.” I find that that’s a really satisfying activity for students to do, to utilize the expertise that they have gained by imagining sharing it with someone else.

BOGAEV: Wow. That’s fascinating. Carol, what’s your thought on this?

LAPERLE: You know, what’s interesting to me is I feel like they have to undo a lot of the training that it is not similar, when in fact, intuitively they already see its similarities, before they even come to me. You know, so it’s actually an interesting process of allowing them to trust themselves when they come to something and be like, “That feels kind of wrong.” Like, “That feels, like, not funny, right?”

To go back to Patricia’s wonderful moment like, what’s the work of racist jokes, right? You know, I don’t introduce that to them. I should just maybe go ahead and share this anecdote because it’s so close to my head. Just this week, a friend of mine asked me to send some materials for her granddaughter who doesn’t believe, in her experience so far of high school, that anyone does race in Shakespeare. Like… what?

AKHIMIE: We don’t exist.

LAPERLE: And so yeah. Like, apparently, we don’t exist.

AKHIMIE: We’re like a tooth fairy.

LAPERLE: Yeah, so I was like, “Okay, let me send you this material.” And actually what’s really interesting about it, and she’s not, because she necessarily wants to just talk about Shakespeare and race, it’s that she was finding that if she wanted to talk about race, there was actually something really productive about talking about it in the context of something 400 years prior. And then bringing that to bear.

But I just also wanted to point out just because, you know, thinking about your audience here, and maybe they’re not all students. You know, the person who asked for this is a good friend of mine. She’s highly-educated, social justice, feminist retired professor, and she has never, ever encountered in all of her education, this notion of Shakespeare and race.

What’s interesting about the discussion we started to have, well, how it works is it just allowed her to read things anew. It wasn’t just a matter of being critical about the language or making social commentary, it was quite literally rewatching plays differently, and, in fact, looking at theatrical practices differently from her point of view.

I mean, what’s more fun than reading and watching something that you know you love, but doing it as if it’s for the first time, because you’re being introduced to when you frame a new lens? So, you know, both of those things are at play.

BOGAEV: Well, there is so much more to talk about, but this was fantastic. Thank you so much, both of you for taking the time and for talking so freely about it.

AKHIMIE: Thank you. Thanks for having us.

LAPERLE: Thank you!


WITMORE: Dr. Patricia Akhimie is an Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Dr. Carol Mejia LaPerle is Professor and Honors Advisor for the Department of English at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. In the new Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race, Dr. Mejia LaPerle wrote the chapter on race in the tragedies. Dr. Akhimie wrote the chapter on race in the comedies. They were interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race was published by Cambridge University Press and became available in the US in February 2021.

Our podcast episode, “A Whole Theater of Others,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer, with help from Leonor Fernandez. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.

If you’re a fan of Shakespeare Unlimited, please leave us a positive review on Apple Podcasts.

Shakespeare Unlimited comes to you from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is dedicated to advancing knowledge and the arts. You can find more about the Folger at our website, Thanks for listening. For the Folger Shakespeare Library, I’m Folger Director Michael Witmore.