Sara Soncini

"O O O O that Shakespeherian Rap": Reimagining Othello through Contemporary Popular Music

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Over the past two decades or so, adaptation studies have provided ample and conclusive evidence about the importance of contemporary popular music as a vital cultural arena for the dialogue between Shakespeare and our time. In this article I focus on "Othello", a play whose creative and critical afterlife has been significantly shaped by a tendency to musicalise Shakespeare's plot and/or its protagonists. By looking at a select corpus of performances across a variety of media, I examine the role played by different brands of pop music in enabling particular versions of the play to be imagined and produced. I start from the typical association of Othello with black musical styles and then move on to discuss more recent takes which seek to complicate the discourse of race, inviting a more nuanced perception of the identities and meanings embedded in the play. By widening the scope of my analysis beyond the Anglosphere, I further emphasise the international and indeed transnational angle to these musical reworkings as well as their complex, polyphonic mode of interaction with Shakespeare's cultural capital.


  • Othello
  • Shakespeare's Afterlife
  • Pop Music


Article first page

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