Literary WebQuest:

             Shakespeare’s Othello

Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion




As we start our reading of Shakespeare’s Othello, it is important to understand the context and how it relates to the character of Othello.  Othello is a character that is different than other characters in Shakespeare’s time due to his race and religion.  He is often referred to as a “moor” in the text, which basically means a person from Northern Africa of “mixed Berber and Arab race” (McDonald, XXXIV).  He is almost always portrayed on stage as a dark skinned man.  Both Othello and the other characters realize his racial difference, which greatly influences Othello’s downfall.  Thus, by understanding Othello’s societal status, one can better understanding his life as a tragedy.



*      In order for you to better understand Othello’s situation in Shakespeare’s time, you will create Othello’s situation in today’s society.  Thus, you have become a member of the CIA, who investigates the situation of Arab-Americans after 9-11. 


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As a member of the CIA, you will do web-based research that will help you to come to a conclusion about Arab-Americans in today’s society.  The conclusion will be neatly portrayed in an investigative report to the President.  This report should be a 2-3 pages long, following class guidelines and correct structure.


In this report, you should think about the following question: How has society’s view of Arab-Americans affected their situation in our country?   


Consider the following themes in your report:


*      Race- ex. How does the color of one’s skin change their experience?

*      Religion- ex. How does the belief in Islam affect the experience of Arab-Americans in a primarily Christian country?

*      Misrepresentation- ex. How is their experience altered by stereotypes?

*      Good vs. Evil- ex.  How is the Arab-American experience determined by the stereotypical associations with “evil action”s, in comparison to the “good actions” of the majority?

*      Pride- ex. How does the treatment of Arab-Americans affect their pride?


*****Also consider the Arab-American experience and how it could relate to the idea of their race being a tragic flaw.


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First, start off by examining the form of a report.


Angelia Polytechnic University provides a 2 part description of the mechanics of report writing.  It provides information on the structure and internal style of a report. 




Second, look at the following websites to help you discover what policies our government has created in order to ecourage the idea of Homeland Security.  Write a brief introduction about the governmental policies that have been created in order to protect the citizens of the United States since 9-11.


Bay Area News Station  has an article that discusses the basic components of the Patriot Act.


White House Home Site provides information about Homeland Security and discusses the components of governmental policies, as well as discusses the different colored levels and what individuals can do to protect themselves against terrorism.


American Communication Foundation presents an article about a random security research project and provides incite about how searches occur in airports.


Michigan in Brief: Civil Rights and Liberties offers information about racial profiling and anti-terrorism efforts.  It also provides links to other websites dealing with similar issues.




Third, decide how these measures affect the people of the United States.  Do these procedures have a positive or negative affect on those of Arab American decent?  Think about how their lives have changed.


Amnesty International USA provides specific example of victim’s testimonies of racial profiling.


American Civil Liberties Union provides article that deal with Homeland Security and Racial Equality.  It also has articles on other issues involving governmental policies and court cases.




Finally, decide how you feel about such policies.  Do you agree with the security measures, or do you feel they infringe on individuals?  Be sure to think about the themes that are listed above.  For instance, do you feel that most Arab-Americans are misrepresented? Or how might these policies affect their pride?


Horizon Magazine provides an article about racial profiling and prejudice.  There is a quiz that you can take that can help you realize the issues that are involved with police protocol.


City Journal provides articles about racial profiling, homeland security and the experience of Arab-Americans, all which will help you decide how you stand on this issue.


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*      You need not use all of these sites.  Only use the ones that you feel you need to write a substantial report.  You must use at least five of the above websites.


*      Besides these websites, you may use books and magazines articles that are in the school’s library, ONLY IF NEEDED.



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This report must be


*      word-processed

*      10-12 pt, Times New Roman font 

*      have cited sources using in-text MLA citation MLA Parenthetical Citations

*       have a works cited page Works Cited Using MLA 


*      It will be worth 40 points

*      Here is how this assignment will be graded Rubric


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As you finish your WebQuest, I want you to continue to think about the experience of minorities.  Think especially about how the reactions of the majority would affect minorities within a culture.  Understanding this will help you realize how Othello’s actions reflect the insecurities about his race.  Use what you have learned in this assignment to help you think about Othello’s experience. 


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Last revised: 30 November 2004



Works Cited


McDonald, Russ. The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin, 2001.


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