Chapter

Shakespeare and Black Women’s Clubs

Katherine West Scheil

in She Hath Been Reading

Published by Cornell University Press

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780801450426
Published online August 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780801464225
Shakespeare and Black Women’s Clubs

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This chapter shows how numerous black club women across the country claimed Shakespeare for their own educational and social agendas. These women saw knowledge of Shakespeare as a way to attain intellectual development and social progress and frequently included Shakespeare as part of their educational programs, but they usually read Shakespeare in ways very different from those employed by the white women's clubs already discussed. First, few black clubs read only Shakespeare. Rather, the most common practice was to read Shakespeare as part of a wider curriculum that included other classic authors, African American writers, women authors, and usually a substantial component of civic work, more so than for most white women's clubs. In this context, reading Shakespeare was not the only goal for most black women readers, but it was a significant step in their commitment to education as a component of racial progress.

Keywords: black club women; black women readers; racial progress; black clubs; civic work; educational programs

Chapter.  10124 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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