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Occupy Shakespeare: Shakespeare and/in the Humanities

Date: 5:30pm PDT September 26, 2013 Location: Gregg Pavilion

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Gregg Pavilion

Marjorie Garber
Harvard University


Occupy Shakespeare: Shakespeare and/in the Humanities


There was a time when Shakespeare’s plays were not considered serious enough, or appropriate for, study in libraries or universities. And there was a time, a slightly later time, when Shakespeare’s plays were considered the property of a subset of the learned class, different from, and distinct from, the practitioners of applied or practical knowledge. Today the plays are part of contemporary culture, in popular music, advertising, and journalistic headlines; and they are also part of literary culture, the culture of “the humanities.” In fact, for many people, Shakespeare is the humanities, quoted, cited, and sung as an authority on philosophy, statecraft, character, love and death. What’s next for Shakespeare studies, in and beyond the academy? What can the itinerary of “Shakespeare” in the last hundred years tell us about the future of the humanities in the twenty-first century?


Marjorie Garber is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard, where she has served as director of the Humanities Center and associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  A member of the American Philosophical Society and a trustee of the English Institute, she is past president of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes and a continuing member of its advisory board, and has served on the board of directors of the ACLS.  

She is a scholar of Shakespeare, Renaissance literature, and contemporary culture, and has written extensively on literary and cultural theory, gender, sexuality, the arts, and intellectual life.  Her seventeen books include Vested Interests:  Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety; Shakespeare’s Ghost Writers; Vice-Versa:  Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life; Academic Instincts; Dog Love; Shakespeare After All (Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award); Patronizing the Arts; and The Use and Abuse of Literature; as well as four volumes of collected essays.


Since 1956, the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s Visiting Scholar Program has been offering undergraduates the opportunity to spend time with some of America’s most distinguished scholars.  The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the institution by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholars and the resident faculty and students.  The 13 men and women participating during 2013-2014 will visit 100 colleges and universities with chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, spending two days on each campus and taking full part in the academic life of the institution.  They will meet informally with students and faculty members, participate in classroom discussions and seminars, and give a public lecture open to the entire academic community.  Now entering its 58th year, the Visiting Scholar Program has sent 611 Scholars on 5,004 two-day visits.

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