Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro is Larry Miller Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. At the Academy, He’s working on a book about the history of the Feder...
Gerhard Casper Lecture
Theater, Democracy, and the Making of an American Culture War
In this talk, James Shapiro discusses his book-in-progress The Playbook: Theater, Democracy, and the Making of a Culture War, about the rise and fall of the Federal Theater. Established in the depths of the Great Depression, the Federal Theater employed over ten thousand out-of-work actors and staged productions seen by more than 25 million Americans from 1935 until 1939, the year the first House Un-American Committee targeted the Federal Theater’s plays as “un-American.” This fateful accusation resulted in a confrontation that was an opening salvo in America’s culture wars.
This event is made possible through philanthropic support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.