Shakespeare loved putting the past in conversation with the present. Theater was public engagement for the academia of his time. In our day, public writing is a form of Shakespearean performance: thinking society through Shakespeare in newspapers, magazines, podcasts, and social media is modern-dress adaptation in writing.
Public Shakespeare is of, by, and for all people, radically inclusive and fundamentally democratic early-modern scholarship engaged with the most important ideas and social issues of our time. It’s Shakespeare studies as a public good, knowledge of an early-modern world that belongs to everyone.
Once a gated community of tenured white males, Public Shakespeare is undergoing a revolution that prioritizes perspectives from often precarious junior scholars leaning into insights availed by gender, race, class, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, intersectionalities, and other identities. In seven short chapters, this book gives Public Shakespeare a history, a theory, a critique, a manifesto, a how-to guide, and a future vision.
Interviews take readers behind-the-scenes to see Public Shakespeareans at work. Practical advice covers the nuts-and-bolts of doing Public Shakespeare with students in the classroom. Readers see how the marriage of historicism and presentism in Shakespeare Studies inspired a new academic journal, Public Humanities. And then comes the rise of a Network for Public Shakespeare and a Center for Public Shakespeare.