The book’s introduction narrates the aftermath of the 2016 election from the perspective of a Shakespeare scholar, moving from the personal to the professional. How do we explain this to our kids?was the refrain at home. At work, the academic version was How do we handle this in class? I discuss on-going debates about the place of politics in the classroom. I deepen the claim that the election was a “tragedy” through a discussion of what “tragedy” really means to literary critics. I present Trump’s election as evidence of what scholars call “the crisis in the humanities” (which is reconfigured as a crisis in the larger educational system which has devalued the humanities). Results from a survey of Shakespeare scholars are discussed. I develop a taxonomy of the Shakespeare-and-Trump discourse, and offer some best practices. And the over-arching question of the book – Why has Shakespeare repeatedly shown up in the story of Trump? – is answered in the opportunity to identify how our moment relates to the larger themes of Western history.
The Introduction is available to read on Temple University Press's page for Shakespeare and Trump.