Scholar to explore Shakespeare’s influence on the USA

MIDDLEBURY — Columbia University professor James Shapiro will explore the history of Shakespeare in America in a talk at Middlebury College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. His talk, “Shakespeare in America,” is part of the Vermont Humanities Council’s First Wednesdays lecture series and is free and open to the public.
Shakespeare has been a prism through which crucial American issues — revolution, slavery, war, social justice — have been refracted and understood. Drawing upon his recent anthology of writings, Shapiro will explore how the history of Shakespeare in America is also the history of America itself.
The talk is presented with Middlebury College, which throughout February will have on display at their Museum of Art Shakespeare’s First Folio. It is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays and is currently on a national tour.
Shapiro is the Larry Miller Professor of English at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1985. His books include “Shakespeare and the Jews” (1996), “1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare” (2005), “Contested Will” (2010), the anthology “Shakespeare in America” (2014), and “The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606” (2015). He has also co-authored and presented two BBC documentaries: “Shakespeare: The King’s Man” and “The Mysterious Mr. Webster.” He serves on the board of directors of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the board of governors of the Folger Shakespeare Library, is Shakespeare Scholar in Residence at New York’s Public Theater, and has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The Vermont Humanities Council’s First Wednesdays series is held on the first Wednesday of every month from October through May in nine communities statewide, featuring speakers of national and regional renown. Talks in Middlebury are held at Ilsley Public Library unless otherwise noted. All First Wednesdays talks are free and open to the public.
Upcoming talks in Middlebury include “Building Monticello” with Dartmouth College senior lecturer Marlene Heck on March 2; “The Legacy of Rachel Carson” with Dartmouth professor Nancy Jay Crumbine on April 6; and “Robert Frost in the World” with Frost biographer Jay Parini on May 4.
For more information, contact the Ilsley Public Library at 802-388-4095 or the Vermont Humanities Council at 802-262-2626 or [email protected], or visit

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