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.
Through cryptonymy, the phantom, as explained by Esther Rashkin’s theory for psychoanalytic analysis, is revealed. Symbols and silences for three first-person protagonists in four contemporary American novels are analyzed. Holden Caulfield in J. D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” Scout or Jean Louise Finch in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman,” and Theresa in Alice McDermott’s “Child of My Heart” reveal their unresolved grief caused by trauma or loss of a loved one. Characters reveal their conflicted identities, their clash with family and cultural norms, and their consequent fallout from society, or ambivalence to it. Discourse and symbols in a text tangential to the movement of the plot reveal encrypted elements of the truth, often a deep family secret. Storytelling though in each story allows for hope that the narrator or protagonist heals.
African-American artists have sought recognition of their various artistic endeavors for nearly 400 years in the New World. Slavery was a dehumanizing act that will always reside sadly in our personal history. The African slave trade played a large role in how society views African-American artists and their art today. Along with an early negative perception, we can see how the African diaspora positively affected American art today. At first, these early artisans were exposed to European art forms, and they adapted these art forms to their own artworks. However, experimentation would eventually lead these artisans, artists, and crafts people to infuse their art forms with a mixture of West African, European, and American cultural ideas. A number of seminal African-American artists will be examined, beginning with Robert S. Duncanson in Cincinnati in the mid-1850s to Henry Ossawa Tanner and Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller in the late nineteenth century. This artistic examination will then continue into the twentieth century and beyond. Thus, this overview will also include the artists during the pivotal Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s, concluding with an examination of contemporary artists, such as Robert Colescott and Faith Ringgold. This article serves as a presentation of works, along with historical references, that cover the achievements of the leading African-American artists for more than 200 years in the American cultural art scene.