Conversational perversions, implicature and sham cancelling in Othello

Authored by: Craig Bourne , Emily Caddick Bourne

The Routledge Companion to Shakespeare and Philosophy

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138936126
eBook ISBN: 9781315677019
Adobe ISBN:


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Othello demonstrates what we call ‘conversational perversions’. This is a technical term which we introduce to identify conversational behaviours which are designed to block the possibility of mutual understanding that characterises successful communication. We believe that our notion of a conversational perversion can be put to work to illuminate conversational encounters in general, but here we show, in particular, how Othello furnishes examples of conversational perversions and, in turn, how the notion of a conversational perversion can be used to articulate a major driver of the play’s narrative: Iago’s manipulation of Othello.

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