Shakespeare's Birthday Lecture

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In honor of Shakespeare's Birthday, the Folger Shakespeare Library hosts a lecture from a noted scholar. The lecture became an annual event sponsored by the Center for Shakespeare Studies in 1987. Below is a list of previous lectures in the series. For more information on celebrations related to Shakespeare's Birthday, see Shakespeare's Birthday (disambiguation). Where available, recordings have been included in the individual lecture article.

2023 Ian Smith (Lafayette College), "Making Blackness"

2019 Gina Bloom (University of California, Davis), "Rough Magic: Performing Shakespeare through Gaming Technology"

2018 Julia Reinhard Lupton (University of California, Irvine), "Shakespeare's Virtues"

2017 Michael Witmore (Folger Shakespeare Library), "The Wisdom of Will"

2016 Joseph Roach (Yale University), "Stars Down to Earth: Materializing Celebrity"

2016 Kim Hall (Barnard University), "Othello Was My Grandfather: Shakespeare in the African Diaspora"

2016 Stephen Greenblatt (Harvard University), "Shakespeare's Life Stories"

2016 Tiffany Stern (University of Oxford), "From Script to Stage to Script"

2015 Lynne Magnusson (University of Toronto), "Shakespeare and the Language of Possibility"

2014 Brian Cummings (University of York), "Shakespeare, Biography, and Anti-Biography"

2013 Andrew Hadfield (University of Sussex), "Graymalkin and Other Shakespearean Celts"

2012 Sarah Beckwith (Duke University), "What Mamillius Knew: Ceremonies of Initiation in The Winter’s Tale"

2011 Wendy Wall (Northwestern University), "Recipes for Thought: Shakespeare and the Art of the Kitchen"

2010 Jonathan Bate (University of Warwick), "The Good Life in Shakespeare"

2009 Russell Jackson (University of Birmingham), "Sensational Shakespeare"

2008 Alan Stewart (Columbia University), "How Shakespeare Made History"

2007 Barbara A. Mowat (Folger Shakespeare Library), "The Founders and the Bard"

2006 W.B. Worthen (University of California, Berkeley), "Shakespeare 3.0"

2005 Stuart Sherman (Fordham University), "Garrick and Theatrical Death"

2004 Coppélia Kahn (Brown University), "Made in America: Shakespeare(s) for the Nineteenth Century"

2003 John Guy (Cambridge University), "Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots"

2002 Katherine Duncan-Jones (University of Oxford), "Love and Death in Shakespeare's Poetry"

2001 James Shapiro (Columbia University), "Jessica's Daughters"

2000 Margreta de Grazia (University of Pennsylvania), "The Latest Hamlet"

1999 Harry Berger, Jr. (University of California, Santa Cruz, emeritus), "Harrying the Stage: Theatre, Bad Conscience, and Other Skills of Offence in Henry V"

1998 Linda Charnes (Indiana University at Bloomington), "The Hamlet Formerly Known as Prince"

1997 Peter Holland (Cambridge University), "Measuring Performance"

1996 A. R. Braunmuller (University of California, Los Angeles), "Bearded Ladies in Shakespeare"

1995 Phyllis Rackin (University of Pennsylvania), "Thoroughly Modern Henry, or It is Better to Marry than to Burn"

1994 Gail Kern Paster (George Washington University), "Heat-Seeking Missiles: Shakespeare, Women, and the Caloric Economy in Early Modern England"

1993 Michael Neill (University of Auckland), "Shakespeare and Translation"

1992 Peter Stallybrass (University of Pennsylvania), "Worn Worlds: Clothes and Identity in Shakespeare"

1991 Catherine Belsey (University of Wales College of Cardiff), "Making Histories"

1990 Andrew Gurr (University of Reading), "Boy Voices and Adult Voices on the Shakespearean Stage"

1989 Jonathan Dollimore (University of Sussex), "Shakespeare Studies and the Current 'Crisis' in the Humanities"

1988 David Bevington (University of Chicago), "'Is this the promised end?': Shakespeare's King Lear"

1987 Patricia A. Parker (University of Toronto), "`Wanton Words': Shakespeare and Rhetoric"

1985 George K. Hunter (Yale University), "Shakespeare as a Renaissance Artist"

1984 Joseph G. Price (Pennsylvania State University), "'Were it not that I have Bad Dreams': The Internalization of Character"

1983 Charles Shattuck, "Oh! There be Players that I Have Seen Play..."

1982 Stanley Wells, "Television Shakespeare"

1976 Jorge Luis Borges, "The Riddle of Shakespeare"

Listen to the MP3: (Borges begins speaking at second 6)

1975 Madeleine Doran (University of Wisconsin), "One Entire and Perfect Chrysolite: The Idea of Excellence in Shakespeare"

1974 Bernard Beckerman (Columbia University), "Shakespearean Playgoing: Then and Now"

1973 J. Leeds Barroll (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), “The Future of Shakespeare Studies”

1970 T.J.B. Spencer (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham), “Shakespeare’s Art and Politics”

1969 Joel Hurstfield (University College, London), “The Paradox of Liberty in Shakespeare’s England”

1968 Arthur R. Humphreys (University of Leicester), “Marlowe, The Jew of Malta; Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice: Two Readings of Life”

1967 [a harpsichord recital by Stoddard Lincoln, April 23, 1967]

1966 (two birthday lectures)

  • April 23, 1966 Philip H. Highfill, Jr. (The George Washington University), “Some 18th Century Responses to Shakespeare”
  • April 29, 1966 D.G. James (University of Southampton), “Shakespeare and America: A New Link Between Them”

1965 [a concert by The Mary Washington College Chorus, April 23, 1965]

1963 [University of Maryland Madrigal Singers, A Program of Music of Shakespeare’s Time, April 23, 1963]

1962 George Winchester Stone, Jr. (Modern Language Association of America), “The Poet and the Players”

1961 Stanley Bennett (Cambridge University), “Queen Elizabeth I and the Press”

1960 Sir Ronald Syme (University of Oxford), “Roman Historians and Renaissance Politics”

1959 Louis B. Wright and James G. McManaway, discussants, “The Reality of William Shakespeare”

1958 Winfred Overholser (Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital), “Shakespeare’s Psychiatry – And After”

1957 [The Amherst College Chapel Choir, A Concert of Renaissance Music]

1956 [Roberta and Colin Sterne, An Evening of Music for the Virginals, Lute, Recorder, and Baroque Flute]

1955 Marchette Chute, “The Good Luck of William Shakespeare”

1954 [Nemone Balfour, A Program of Songs and Ballads of the 16th and 17th centuries]

1953 Louis B. Wright (Folger Shakespeare Library), “The British Tradition in America”

1952 [William Hess, Blanche Winogron, Sydney Beck, Music of Shakespeare’s Day]

1951 William Haller (Barnard College, Columbia University, emeritus),“‘What Needs My Shakespeare?’”

1950 John Cranford Adams (President, Hofstra College), “Shakespeare and His Stage”

1949 Charles J. Sisson (University College, London), “Elizabethans in Intimacy”

1948 Thomas Marc Parrott (Princeton University, emeritus), “Hamlet on the Stage”

1947 Samuel C. Chew (Bryn Mawr College), “This Strange, Eventful History”

1946 Cornelia Otis Skinner, “The Wives of Henry VIII” [a play] (CANCELLED)

1942 Charles Grosvenor Osgood (Princeton University, emeritus), “The New Poet”

1941 Allardyce Nicoll (Yale University), “Shakespeare’s Experiments in Evil”

1940 Leslie Hotson (Haverford College), “Not of an Age”

1939 Charles Frederick Tucker Brooke (Yale University), “Queen Elizabeth in Youth and Age”

1938 William Allan Neilson (President, Smith College), “As Shakespeare Says”

1937 George Lyman Kittredge (Harvard University, emeritus), “Shakespeare and the Critics”

1936 Felix E. Schelling (formerly University of Pennsylvania), “Shakespeare and Biography”

1935 Samuel Arthur King (University of London), "Dramatic Recital of Hamlet"

1934 [early English choral music by the Ypsilanti Singers; Elizabethan tunes on the recorder and harpsichord by John Challis; readings from The Merchant of Venice and As You Like It, by Edith Wynne Matthison]

1933 George A. Plimpton (President, Amherst College), “The Education of Shakespeare, Illustrated with Textbooks in Use in His Day”

1932 Joseph Quincy Adams (Folger Shakespeare Library), “Shakespeare and American Culture”