The fourteenth episode of Professor Ato Quayson’s vlog Critic.Reading.Writing is up!

Quayson delivers a Fanonian reading of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

As viewers may recall from Episode 12 on Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks, Professor Quayson reads Fanon as the tragic hero of his own essay, “The Fact of Blackness.” In his analysis of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Quayson places this character of Fanon in conversation with the misunderstood villain, Shylock.

Shylock is a Jewish moneylender who struggles to comprehend the disparate relationship between his high economic status and low cultural standing in the predominantly Christian Venetian society. Quayson draws a connection between the physical and cultural alienation of both Fanon and Shylock under the white and Christian gaze respectively, thus creating a comparison between the conceptualization of racism and anti-Semitism in the two texts. The professor explains,

Shylock seeks an egalitarian extension of commonality on the basis of a literal interpretation of what it is to be human, an interpretation that because he has the same anatomical features as the Christians then they ought to accept him as equal to them. But as Fanon might tell Shylock, society never refuses an egalitarian extension of humanity to its denigrated Others solely on the basis of the presence or absence of human attributes. The refusal of recognition is often done by the invocation of invisible and intrinsic characteristics that cannot be challenged solely by referring to a common humanness.

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Critic.Reading.Writing with Ato Quayson is the show for booklovers hungry for meaningful conversations about books.

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