Shakespeare’s Exclusionary “Slime”

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  • Title: Shakespeare’s Exclusionary “Slime”: A Rationale for the Study of Literary Exclusions
  • Author(s): Rajiv Thind
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review
  • Keywords: Shakespeare, Literary Exclusion, Religion, Race
  • Volume: 15
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2017
  • ISSN: 1447-9508 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1447-9559 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1447-9508/CGP/v15i01/1-15
  • Citation: Thind, Rajiv. 2017. "Shakespeare’s Exclusionary “Slime”: A Rationale for the Study of Literary Exclusions." The International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review 15 (1): 1-15. doi:10.18848/1447-9508/CGP/v15i01/1-15.
  • Extent: 15 pages

Abstract

Shakespeare scholars have deployed immense resources and inventiveness to use Shakespeare as the messiah for human freedom and inclusiveness of every kind. These all-pervasive genteel academic exertions are deeply problematic because they discourage the study of the taboo sites of literary exclusions. If the humanities are to regain an intellectually rigorous engagement with literary works, then they must make new forays into the study of literary exclusion. One way to think of exclusion in early modern literature is to acknowledge that racial and religious exclusion during that time was not a simple act of “discrimination”—rather, these ostracisms were practiced sincerely for the public good. Following Anne Lake Prescott’s work, I propose another interesting approach to study exclusion in Shakespeare’s works: literary “slime” that induces laughter in community-reinforcing ways. When Shakespeare’s Portia refers to Morocco’s “complexion of a devil,” she juxtaposes it with the ideal white European skin. When Benedick says, “If I do not love her [Beatrice], I am a Jew,” he wills to act as a loving Christian as opposed to what the Elizabethan culture perceived as heartless Jews. In the last section, I submit why the study of literature and its culture’s exclusionary representations and politics should be the exciting new direction for the humanities.