“Fair Portia ” of The Merchant of Venice is Shakespeare ’ s simulation of the brilliantly willful innamorata invented by the groundbreaking diva of Italy ‘ s professional troupes. Ambivalence and hostility toward this foreign model marks Portia, who is far from fair or merciful, in her cruel victory over Shylock and her bigotry toward Morocco. In this comedy rife with antiVenetian satire, Portia enacts morally “dark” Italianness in ways both racist and racialized, even as she counterfeits virtue. Her scandalous theatricality would mark her as a supersubtle Venetian, with a saintly exterior made fair by artful performance.
Pamela Allen Brown is Professor of English at University of Connecticut. Her new book, The Diva ’ s Gift to the Shakespearean Stage, is just out from Oxford University Press. With Julie Campbell and Eric Nicholson, she edited and translated Isabella Andreini’ s Fragmenti di alcune scritture (Lovers ‘ Debates for the Stage), forthcoming from The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe. Her other publications include Better a Shrew than a Sheep: Women, Drama and the Culture of Jest in Early Modern England; As You Like It: Texts and Contexts (with Jean E. Howard); and Women Players in Early Modern England: Beyond the All–Male Stage (with Peter Parolin). She is a founding member of Theater Without Borders, a working group of scholars of early modern drama and performance.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2022 6:00-7:30 PM EST
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This event is co-sponsored with The Center for the Study of Women and Society and the CUNY Academy for Humanities and Sciences.