Campus Reform | English prof suggests Shakespeare works are racist

English prof suggests Shakespeare works are racist

An Arizona State English professor claimed that study of British playwright William Shakespeare was used to “civilize” people in the British Empire.

The comments come after a rising tide of disdain for Shakespeare, who is widely considered to be one of the greatest influences on the English language.

An Arizona State University professor claimed that William Shakespeare was a tool used to “civilize” people in the British Empire.

In a quote for an article in the School Library Journal, Ayanna Thompson — who directs the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and works as a professor of English at Arizona State University — said that “Shakespeare was a tool used to ‘civilize’ Black and brown people in England’s empire.”

“As part of the colonizing efforts of the British in imperial India, the first English literature curricula were constructed, and Shakespeare’s plays were central to that new curricula,” she claimed.

Thompson’s website states that she is a “scholar of Shakespeare, race, and performance.”

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The article — titled “To Teach or Not To Teach: Is Shakespeare Still Relevant to Today’s Students?” — discussed the notion that the English playwright’s works are full of discriminatory content.

“Shakespeare’s works are full of problematic, outdated ideas, with plenty of misogyny, racism, homophobia, classism, anti-Semitism, and misogynoir,” wrote contributor Amanda MacGregor. “Which raises the question: Is Shakespeare more valuable or relevant than myriad other authors who have written masterfully about anguish, love, history, comedy, and humanity in the past 400-odd years?”

The article quoted a variety of teachers involved with secondary and postsecondary education. One high school teacher said that she adjusts her study of Shakespeare by reading Romeo and Juliet “through the lens of adolescent brain development with a side of toxic masculinity analysis.”

Over the last decade, academia has grown in its disdain for the Bard.

As Campus Reform reported in 2015, a high school English teacher made waves after suggesting that she dislikes reading Shakespeare because of her own “personal disinterest in reading stories written in an early form of the English language that I cannot always easily navigate.”

[RELATED: Teacher offended by Shakespeare's 'white' male perspective]

The following year, students at the University of Pennsylvania forcibly ripped a portrait of the playwright from the school’s English department.

[RELATED: Students rip down Shakespeare portrait at UPenn]

Campus Reform reached out to Thompson for further comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft