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24
May

Hay Festival: James Shapiro on Shakespeare in a Divided America

James Shapiro talks about his revelatory new history, Shakespeare in a Divided America

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Sunday 24th May, 2020 @ 5:30 pm

  • Questions & Answers
  • Reading
  • Storytelling session

Free

About the Event

Shakespeare's position as England's national poet is established and unquestionable.

But as James Shapiro illuminates in this revelatory new history, Shakespeare has long held an essential place in American culture. Why, though, would a proudly independent republic embrace England's greatest writer? Especially when his works enact so many of America's darkest nightmares: interracial marriage, cross-dressing, same-sex love, tyranny, and assassination

Investigating a selection of defining moments in American history - drilling into issues of race, miscegenation, gender, patriotism and immigration; encountering Presidents, activists, writers and actors - Shapiro leads us to fascinating answers and uncovers rich and startling stories.

Shapiro, who teaches English at Columbia University in New York, is author of several books, including 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (winner of the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize in 2006), as well as Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? He also serves on the Board of the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

This event is live and there will be a Q&A afterwards.

About the Book

Shakespeare in a Divided America
Shakespeare in a Divided America

James Shapiro

Publisher:Faber & Faber

Publication date:12 Mar 2020

ISBN:9780571338887

3.83 out of 5
10 reviews
"When great things happen in the US, someone, somewhere, is brushing up their Shakespeare"
The Times
"America is so passionate about the Bard, he’s even been the cause of deadly protests"
The Sunday Times
"James Shapiro has fashioned an illuminating, compulsively readable history"
Irish Times
"sprightly and enthralling"
The Guardian
"Shapiro at his best: engaging, precise in detail, and always willing to look beneath the skin of the matter at hand"
The Sunday Telegraph
"in the polarised age of Donald Trump his work feels as urgent as ever"
New Statesman
"(a) combination of original research, conceptual clarity and stylistic brio"
The Spectator
"A timely, clever analysis of why Shakespeare continues to cast a spell over American politics"
The Observer
"He has produced a scrupulous, lively account of Shakespeare’s meaning for Americans past and present."
Literary Review
"James Shapiro’s book takes in assassination, cross-dressing and a Trumpian Caesar"
Financial Times

Shakespeare's position as England's national poet is established and unquestionable. But as James Shapiro illuminates in this revelatory new history, Shakespeare has long held an essential place in American culture.