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James S. Shapiro
Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York (New York, NY 10027-7922)

Public Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018

America's Shakespeare

Research and writing for a book on how the works of William Shakespeare have figured in America’s national conversation from the Revolution to the present day.

From the 1830s, when Alexis de Tocqueville toured the land and reported in "Democracy in America" that there was “hardly a pioneer hut in which the odd volume of Shakespeare cannot be found,” to the present day, when almost every American teenager is exposed to his plays, Shakespeare has remained the one writer shared by all in this nation, across social, geographic, and political boundaries. In ten chapters (each focusing on a key year) America’s Shakespeare examines the course of our nation’s history through the lens of our long and collective engagement with Shakespeare. I’m especially interested in exploring how and why Americans have turned to Shakespeare when struggling to find common ground or give voice to what is otherwise not easily or openly expressed, and to this end the book will explore how Shakespeare has figured in—and shaped--our national conversation from the Revolution until the present day.