James Shapiro: The Year of Lear (2015)

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James Shapiro: The Year of Lear, one of the Talks and Screenings at the Folger, was held in the Elizabethan Theatre on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 7:00pm.

Author James Shapiro discussed his new book The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606. Shapiro, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, shows how the tumultuous events in England in 1606 affected Shakespeare and shaped the three great tragedies he wrote that year—King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra. The Year of Lear sheds light on these three great tragedies by placing them in the context of their times, while also allowing us greater insight into how Shakespeare was personally touched by such events as a terrible outbreak of plague and growing religious divisions.

Copies of The Year of Lear were available for purchase and signing at the event.

Listen to the James Shapiro discuss The Year of Lear on the Folger podcast Shakespeare Unlimited here.

James Shapiro

James Shapiro. Photo by Mary Cregan.

James Shapiro is currently Larry Miller Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1985.

He the author of Rival Playwrights: Marlowe, Jonson, Shakespeare (1991), Shakespeare and the Jews (1996), Oberammergau: The Troubling Story of the World’s Most Famous Passion Play (2000), 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (2005), which was awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize for the best non-fiction book published in Britain, and Contested Will (2010), which was awarded the Theater Library Association's George Freedley Memorial Award. His 3-hour documentary on late Shakespeare--The King and the Playwright--aired on BBC4 in April 2012.

His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, the London Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Bookforum, and the Financial Times. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation, and The New York Public Library Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

He serves on the Board of Governors of the Folger Shakespeare Library as well as the Board of Governors of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is currently the Shakespeare Scholar in Residence at the Public Theater in New York City. He is also a Vice President of the Authors Guild.

In 2011 James Shapiro was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.