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date: 21 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Completed in 1966, Liz White’s Othello is the first and only Shakespeare film directed by a black woman, as well as the first cinematic adaptation of a Shakespeare play to feature an all-black cast and crew. When production began in 1962, White was intent on using her landmark adaptation to assert a place for women within the male-dominated black nationalist movements of the 1960s. By focusing on the (mis)treatment of women in Othello, White links their struggle—or lack thereof—to the double displacement of black women within the burgeoning civil rights movement. Particularly in this context, it seems counter-intuitive that White would draw upon conventions from one of the most conservative cinematic genres—the American film musical—to generate an alternative set of signifying practices for articulating civil rights claims and for chronicling the historical process whereby women become the vanishing mediators of social ‘progress’…

Keywords: Key terms, Liz White, Othello, cinematic adaptation, all-black cast, (mis)treatment of women, 1960s, civil rights movement, American film musical, social ‘progress’.

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