english question

I need an explanation for this English question to help me study.

  1. Do not begin until you’ve read AT LEAST the first few scenes in Act I of Othello
  2. Locate and choose the passages from the text you want to work with
  3. Read the CONTEXT information that precedes the Instructions
  4. Follow step-by-step instructions to develop your first post
  5. Submit your initial post into the Reply box by Wed. before 11:59 pm.
  6. Respond to a minimum of two classmates’ posts in your group______


  • There is no need for a WORKS CITED in a Discussion.

  • Do not copy and paste the entire lengthy set of directions along with your discussion post – it makes it hard for your peers to read.

Considering Theme: The Outsider: Racial, Religious, & Ethnic Dynamics in Othello

In Shakespeare’s play, Othello’s blackness makes him an outsider in Renaissance-era Venice. And, in addition to race acting as a divide, his outsider status is reinforced in a number of other ways, too:

  • RELIGIOUS OUTSIDER: He is a “Moor,” (in other words, likely a Muslim by birth, and a later convert to Christianity, the religion of the Venetians).

  • CULTURAL OUTSIDER: He is a foreigner – raised somewhere else, and as such, he is someone who does not have the same cultural ‘insider’ social currency as the native Venetians do. Unlike the cosmopolitan characters around him, he did not grow up in Venetian society and so does not have that deep intimacy with the culture..

  • NATIONAL OUTSIDER: Othello is an immigrant in a new country that is much different from his birthplace.

(Interestingly for Othello, at times his outsider status seems a source of strength, and at others, a deep vulnerability)

Consider these ideas as you develop your discussion contributions this week. Think about this theme of being the outsider- and more specifically how the dynamics of religion, race, culture, ethnicity, and immigration generate the drama of that divide. To what extent is it still relevant in the contemporary United States now, over 400 years after the play was written?

You may find it helpful to refer to the the Hall chapter and review “Critical Race Theory (1970s-Present)” which offer potential lenses through which to reflect (at least partially) on this subject.



  • Part 1: A Posted Passage + Analysis
  • Part 2: Outsiders Then and Now – Commentary + Example


  • Find a passage from the play where this theme of Othello-as-outsider is expressed or implied in some way. It may be related to his vulnerability as an outsider, to feeling outnumbered, or depict mistrust or animosity about him that is rooted in his status as an outsider, or other aspect of this thematic idea
  • The passage you decide to excerpt should not be shorter than 8 lines or longer than 16. (If more than one character speaks during this excerpt, make sure to indicate that clearly.
  • Copy and paste your chosen passage under the Part 1 header you created, “A Posted Passage + Analysis.” Set it in boldfaced type.
  • In your copy/paste of the passage, be sure to accurately preserve the original line breaks that are in the Literature anthology. (Do not use a different text as your source for the play.) You can indicate the end of a line with a slash mark like so:


Write a paragraph of analysis (approximately 7-10 sentences ) in which you:

    • Offer context for the scene and a brief explanation of what’s happening in the passage.
    • Explain: How does it connect to this thematic idea of Othello as outsider?
    • Develop some additional analytical conclusions about the passage you chose, including:
    • How do aspects of form contribute to the passage? For example, 1) Identify whether the passage is in prose, blank verse, or rhymed verse and why; 2) Comment briefly on other aspects of the language, such as metaphor, slang, etc. and what these choices illuminate.
    • What else is worth considering in this passage? What other insights might it reveal about cultural context, conflicts, motivations, plot, meaning, and so on?
    • Consider this passage from the perspective of the Race-Ethnicity-Post-Colonial critical theorist. What idea(s), insight(s), or key principle(s) seem relevant to this passage/excerpt and why?

Your analysis should BE analysis, not description or plot summary. Strong analyses draw interpretive conclusions that are the result of close reading and reflection. They’re analytical, concise, specific, supported by evidence, example, and reasoning. Avoid vague generalities.


The second segment of your two-part post will include A.) a paragraph in which you discuss / draw your own conclusions about this theme’s relevance to contemporary American life, and B.) offer an example to illustrate your ideas, like a news story, image, etc.

DO: Be specific in your commentary. Explain your thinking. There is no one “right answer” to this question to the exclusion of others. Strong answers refer to specifics in Shakespeare’s play and to our own society; they are reflective, carefully reasoned, well written, and supported by meaningful examples or evidence.

DON’T: Respond with unfocused feelings or vague statements of the obvious (e.g., ‘Racism is bad’). In your reasoning, conclusions, descriptions, and your introduction of your example, be focused and specific.

Checkmark.png YOUR COMMENTARY PARAGRAPH: Length: approximately 6-10 sentences.

The thematic idea you are reflecting on is the status of Othello as an outsider in the play, and the dynamics of religion, race, or ethnicity/foreigner status that creates that insider/outsider tension. Consider the play’s depiction of racism/ racial-cultural-religious division from the vantage point of our contemporary context. To what extent does it speak to modern American readers about the contemporary society in which we live? Offer your thoughts in response to this prompt:

Is this aspect of the play relevant now in contemporary America? How?

In your response, you may want to reflect on our progress, and lack of it, since Shakespeare’s time (be specific). To what extent have we evolved past the animus and suspicions reflected in the quotes? In what ways do these same dividing lines and hostilities related to race, or religion, or ethnicity/immigration still reverberate in modern American life? Share your view. In your commentary, you should also briefly introduce the EXAMPLE you’re including and explain why it is relevant. Clearly label this second section of your post with the headline: Part 2: Outsiders Then & Now – Commentary + Example.

Checkmark.png YOUR EXAMPLE:

Post it directly beneath your commentary. Your example might be a compelling statistic, an image, video clip, news story, ongoing controversy, social problem, current event, song lyric, or any other relevant material generated by American culture and political life. It’s up to you – it’s wide open. Wherever possible, embed your material so that it is easily visible rather than just sharing a link that leads to somewhere off the discussion page.

5. RESPONDING TO OTHERS (Read below how this week’s format differs)

  • Respond to a minimum of two classmates’ analyses of excerpted Othello passages (i.e., Part I of their Post)
  • Respond to a minimum of two OTHER classmates’ commentaries on Othello’s modern-day relevance (i.e., Part II of their Post)

Your responses do not all have to be to the same two classmates – in other words, you may respond to the Part 1 Passage Analyses of Classmate X and Classmate Y, but decide that for Part 2, you would like to respond to the Commentaries & Examples of Classmate A and Classmate B. In other words, you end up responding to a minimum of 4 people (certainly more is encouraged).

In each of your response posts to classmates (due Sun) add your insights, counterpoints, additional examples and/or commentary.

Posts that score full points:

  • Offer a clear and well-supported point in each comment. Include words like “because” and “for example.”

  • Are specific; offer reasoned points, and conclusions bolstered by evidence instead of vague, general impressions

  • Where/when appropriate, use direct quotes from sources as supporting evidence

  • Show respect to the other participants in the discussion and take their comments into account.

  • Use complete sentences and good grammar.

  • Begin by stating the topic when responding to the opening question, or following other labeling instructions

  • Demonstrate that the writer has read everything that has developed in the discussion so far by being located in a relevant topic thread and not repeating a point that has already been made.

  • Are complete – they include three separate posts – the initial post, which responds to the prompt, and at least two responses to posts classmates.

Discussion posts will be assessed according to the Threaded Discussion Rubric

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