Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’: Perpetuating stereotypes or sparking much-needed conversations?

Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice ends badly for Shylock, with the court ruling against him and his claim on Antonio’s “pound of flesh.” He loses half his property to Antonio and agrees to convert to Christianity to avoid losing the other half to the state. The play may be a comedy, but there’s nothing funny about Shylock’s… Continue Reading »


Shakespeare Live: Staging the plays outdoors

Whether they are produced under the stars, in the moonlight, by the sea, or in local parks, Shakespeare plays are performed outdoors throughout the United States every summer. Some aspects of modern theater would probably have surprised William Shakespeare, from electrical lighting to women acting onstage. The idea of performing his plays outdoors, however, would have seemed entirely routine. The plays that Shakespeare… Continue Reading »


Reading ahead for “Will & Jane”

As you’ve seen on this blog already, the next Folger exhibition, Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity (August 6 to November 6), will be a fascinating look at the posthumous celebrities of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. In a blog post last month, the exhibition curators joined us to discuss Kate… Continue Reading »


A perfect pairing: A recipe for almond jumballs and a podcast episode on “Recipes for Thought”

Early modern kitchens, food, and recipes offer an intriguing window on the world in which Shakespeare lived. Our new Shakespeare Unlimited podcast episode is a fascinating interview with Wendy Wall, who explores the role of food, kitchens, and other related subjects in her 2015 book Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen…. Continue Reading »


Charlotte Cushman, an American star

As we celebrate Shakespeare in 2016, it’s also time to mark some other dates on the calendar. This Saturday, July 23, 2016, is the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Cushman’s birth. Cushman was among the finest and best-known American actresses of the 19th century and the first to achieve international fame. Cushman was well-known for playing male characters such… Continue Reading »


Watch videos of “my Shakespeare story” and tell us yours

For our yearlong celebration of Shakespeare in 2016, we’ve been inviting the world to share videos about personal connections and experiences with Shakespeare, with the hashtag #MySHX400. The results are varied, unexpected, and interesting. Enjoy some of those Shakespeare stories here and tell us your own, too. Washington photographer Lloyd Wolf recalls that one of his first encounters with… Continue Reading »


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