In-person and Virtual | 1:30 p.m. (New York) | 7:30 p.m. (Paris)
From the collected works on Abraham Lincoln’s White House desk, to the Public Theater’s incendiary 2018 production of Julius Caesar, Shakespeare has long been adopted as the voice of the cultural moment. Two figures qualified to speak on this phenomenon are Stephen Greenblatt and James Shapiro, celebrated Shakespeare scholars and authors of multiple books on the Bard.
In his 2020 book Shakespeare in a Divided America, Shapiro considers the many uses and abuses of Shakespeare in American history; from issues of race and democracy, to liberty and marriage, Shapiro highlights Shakespeare’s presence at the heart of the American cultural imagination. In his 2019 book Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics, Greenblatt demonstrates the similarities between Shakespearean tyranny and power in the current age: unstable leaders, crumbling faith in institutions, and a public more interested in the spectacle of politics than participation. This April at the American Library in Paris, the two authors will discuss Shakespeare in relation to the pandemic, racial justice, the climate crisis, arguing, in a moderated conversation, for Shakespeare’s role as an eternal mouthpiece of the present.
The Entre Nous series is co-organized by Columbia Global Centers | Paris, the Institute for Ideas and Imagination, and The American Library in Paris.
Stephen Greenblatt is an author, literary historian, Shakespearean, and the John Cogan Professor of the Humanities at Harvard. He is General Editor of, and a contributor to, The Norton Shakespeare and The Norton Anthology of English Literature, and is a founding editor of the literary-cultural journal Representations. The author of fourteen books, he was awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the 2011 National Book Award for Nonfiction for his work The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (2011).
James Shapiro is an author and Larry Miller Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. A specialist in Shakespeare and the early modern period, Shapiro has published a number of books on topics ranging from the Shakespeare authorship question to Shakespeare’s legacy in American history. Shapiro was inducted into the Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011.
*The discussion will be available both online and in person. While the conversation will happen in person (in the Reading Room at the American Library), the American Library will also stream the conversation on Zoom for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.