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Was Shakespeare anti-Semitic? Or is his Jewish Shylock character rather an indication of the discursive climate that prevailed in England during the 1500s? Does The Merchant of Venice hold anti-Semitic propaganda and is therefore even dangerous, regardless of the zeitgeist and the theatrical production? After all, only the spectators can provide information.
In his set at the Swedish Royal Dramatic Theater in 2004, with Malin Ek in the role of Shylock, director Mats Ek tried to create an antidote. Scholars working at the Department for Performance Studies, Stockholm University, conducted an audience survey that showed that, contrary to its purpose, the show had encouraged anti-Semitic tendencies among the spectators. During a three-day symposium, the alarming findings were discussed in a multidisciplinary context.
Shakespeares Shylock och antisemitismen (Shakespeare's Shylock and the anti-Semitism) contains nine of the contributions presented in the symposium: Harvard professor and Shakespeare specialist Stephen Greenblatt (in Hans Keller's translation), theologian Jesper Svartvik, historians Lars M. Andersson and Håkan Blomqvist, psychoanalyst David Titelman, journalist and author Anna Lena Lodenius, free-lancing scholar Anat Gessat-Edelsburg and the Performance Studies scholars Yael Feiler and Willmar Sauter who also edited and compiled the book.
This second edition of Shakespares Shylock och antisemitismen contains an addition to the preface and a new contribution by Yael Feiler which traces the results from the research that has been conducted the last years.