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The (dis) United States: what would The Bard say?

Professor James Shapiro with Niall MacMonagle


Date: Saturday March 28th
Venue: dlr LexIcon, The Studio
Time: 6pm
Cost: €15 / €12
Age: Adult


Shakespeare in a Divided America is Professor James Shapiro’s latest book. Join James, America’s leading authority on Shakespeare with Niall MacMonagle, as they trace the unparalleled role of Shakespeare’s 400-year-old tragedies and comedies in making sense of so many of these issues on which the American identity has turned. Reflecting on how Shakespeare has been invoked—and at times weaponised—at pivotal moments, Shapiro takes us from President John Quincy Adams’s disgust with Desdemona’s interracial marriage to Othello, to Abraham Lincoln’s and his assassin John Wilkes Booth’s competing obsessions with the plays, up through the fraught debates over marriage  and same-sex love at the heart of the celebrated adaptations Kiss Me, Kate and Shakespeare in Love. Shapiro argues that by better understanding Shakespeare’s role in American life, the USA might begin to mend itself.

James Shapiro is the Larry Miller Professor of English at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1985. He is the author of several books, including 1599 and Contested Will, and is the recipient of many awards and fellowships. Shapiro is a Governor of the Folger Shakespeare Library. He lives in New York with his wife and son.

Niall MacMonagle is a teacher, critic and broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Today with Sean O’Rourke programme on Radio 1. He has been an advocate for the arts and, in particular, a champion for poetry. He spent more than 30 years teaching at Wesley College in Dublin, where he founded the poetry-speaking initiative Poetry Aloud, now a nationwide competition. He was responsible for the brilliant Lifelines series and to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising, Niall published Windharp: Poems of Ireland Since 1916 which reflects the country’s people and beliefs, its landscape, passions and politics over the past century. He writes a weekly art column for the Sunday Independent and has edited numerous anthologies. He was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature by UCD in 2017 for his services to literature.



L - R: Prof. James Shapiro, Niall MacMonagle