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‘Rub Him About the Temples’: Othello, Disability, and the Failures of Care


  • Justin Shaw Emory University



Focusing on how race and disability deconstruct and expose the facades of friendship, this article explores the ethical differences in models of care in Shakespeare's Othello. It examines the networks of care surrounding the character of Othello – particularly his interactions with Cassio – and demonstrates how, by revealing the many pretensions and failures of relationship, the play develops a theory and praxis for ethical caring that attends to the complexity of a black and disabled character. The play, this essay argues, finally presents a solution to the problem of care in the symbolic and material web of the ancestral handkerchief.

Author Biography

Justin Shaw, Emory University

Justin Shaw ( is a PhD candidate and the James T. Laney Dissertation Fellow in the department of English at Emory University.






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