Throughout his career, William Shakespeare returned again and again to questions that haunted him: how it is possible for seemingly stable societies to fall into the hands of disastrous leaders? Why do communities of free men and women, people who have every reason to look out for their own interests, succumb to those who have no regard for the common good? What makes whole nations vulnerable to what Lord Byron, describing Napoleon, calls a Desolator? Shakespeare had to be careful: in his world, as in modern totalitarian states, there was no freedom of expression. But he developed exceptional skills at oblique politics, and the answers he proposed have exceptional relevance to our own times.
Stephen Greenblatt is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He is the author of fourteen books, General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and of The Norton Shakespeare, has edited seven collections of criticism, and is a founding coeditor of the journal Representations. He was named the 2016 Holberg Prize Laureate and his honors include the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Prize, the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Distinguished Humanist Award from the Mellon Foundation.
Elisabeth Bronfen is Professor of English and American Literature and Culture at the Universität Zürich and Global Distinguished Professor at New York University. She publishes widely on literature, film, television, photography, art, genders studies and psychoanalysis. Her recent books include Crossmappings. On Visual Culture (Tauris, 2018), Hollywood und das Projekt Amerika. Essays zum kulturellen Imaginären einer Nation (transcript, 2018), Besessen. Meine Kochmemoiren (Echtzeitverlag, 2016), Mad Men (diaphanes, 2013), and Night Passages:Philosophy, Literature, and Film (Columbia UP, 2013).
Welcome: Prof. Dr. Heike Paul, Bavarian American Academy (BAA) and FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Tobias Döring, LMU, Munich
Respondent: Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Bronfen, University of Zurich
Organizer: Bavarian American Academy in cooperation with LMU Munich and FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg
Contact: Dr. Margaretha Schweiger-Wilhelm