I Saw Othello’s Visage In His Mind': Visualizing Othello In Nineteenth-Century British Theatre In #morningsideheights

I saw Othello’s visage in his mind’: Visualizing Othello in Nineteenth-Century British Theatre

he Society of Fellows hosts the Thursday Lecture Series (TLS), which runs regularly throughout the academic year. The Fall Semester TLS, our Fellows present their own work, chaired by Columbia faculty.

“I saw Othello’s visage in his mind’: Visualizing Othello in Nineteenth-Century British Theatre”

Lecture by Atesede R. Makonnen
Chaired by Joseph Howley

This lecture explores the performance of race through illustrations and portraits of two famous Othellos: Edmund Kean, the British actor who tried to ‘whiten’ the character, and Ira Aldridge, the ground-breaking African American actor who attempted to conquer Othello. Both Kean and Aldridge worked as actors with careers spanning black and white parts; for both, Othello presented challenges around agency and racial identity. Kean, it seems, could not escape Othello’s blackness, and Aldridge could not escape Othello. How does Othello act as a site of identity creation and identity limitation? How do illustrations, exhibitions, and academic narratives contribute to that creation and limitation? Despite their attempts to control race on stage, Kean and Aldridge met with spectators whose visual processing of their performances forced them back into familiar racial identities.


This event also will be recorded. By being electronically present, you consent to the SOF/Heyman using such video for promotional purposes.

Please email disability@columbia.edu to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.


Dec 08 2022


12:15 pm - 1:45 pm


Columbia University - The Heyman Center
74 Morningside Dr, New York, NY 10027


Columbia University - Heyman Center for the Humanities
(212) 854-8443

Morningside Channel