2016 challenges us not to fall back on the clichés—“greatest writer in English,” “not of an age but for all time”—when we celebrate Shakespeare. No one can deny his myriad literary achievements, but something else is also at work in creating his cultural capital. Anniversary celebrations like the present one sustain him as a “timeless” icon even as tastes, technology and politics change that very icon. What is the value, and what are the pitfalls, of such celebrations? Coppélia Kahn will explore their history and their potential.
Coppélia Kahn, Professor of English, Emerita, at Brown University, has published widely on feminist theory, Shakespeare, Renaissance drama and Shakespeare’s place in American culture. She is the author of Man’s Estate: Masculine Identity in Shakespeare (1981), one of the first books to bring feminist theory to the study of Shakespeare, and Roman Shakespeare: Warriors, Wounds and Women (1997). Most recently, she co-edited with Clara Calvo Celebrating Shakespeare: Commemoration and Cultural Memory (2015).