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INsiders Recap: Othello

By A Noise Within
March 8, 2019

On February 13th, 2019 we were thrilled to have Dr. Amy Kenny, a Shakespearean Scholar and dramaturg, return to speak at our first INsiders meeting of the year on Othello! Dr. Kenny attended the University of Sussex, where she received her PhD in early modern literature and culture. Her thesis focused on Shakespeare’s medical representation of the family and the humoral body, and she is currently a visiting assistant professor at the University of California, Riverside.

For this INsiders event, Dr. Kenny lead a discussion on “Humorous Tragedy” in Othello – specifically, how the humors of the body directly relate and impact various characters in the play. The discussion began with a general background on the four humors and their relation to temperaments: blood, which is connected to the “sanguine” temperament (social and optimistic,) black bile, which is connected to the “melancholic” temperament (wise but sad), yellow bile, which is connected to the “choleric” temperament (short-tempered and explosive), and finally phlegm, which is connected to the “phlegmatic” temperament (easy-going and peaceful.)

The group then opened up the discussion and talked about which characters in Othello related to which humors and temperaments. Many agreed that Othello himself seemed rather melancholic, while Iago would definitely fall under choleric. Everyone had a cheerful time then coming up with what humor they are, versus what humor they wished they were (sanguine was quite popular!). The night ended with a broader discussion of some of the larger themes of jealousy, race, and relationships found in Othello.

Thank you to Dr. Kenny for leading such a fascinating and engaging discussion. We are grateful to have so many events surrounding Othello including the INsiders discussion and the Noise Now special event American Moor on March 27th! Othello continues until April 28th, and we will be having more INsiders meetings for The Glass Menagerie and Argonautika coming up soon. For more information on how to get involved with INsiders, please contact Rebecca Wilson at (626) 356-3100 x109 or at We hope to see you next time!

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