"Shakespeare and Modern Culture" with Marjorie Garber


Location: Hesburgh Center for International Studies, Main Auditorium

Provost’s Distinguished Women’s Lecturer for 2009-10

Marjorie Garber is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University, where she is also Chair of the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies and Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. She is senior Trustee of the English Institute, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies, and served until recently as the President of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes. A graduate of Swarthmore College (B.A. 1966; hon. D. 2004) and of Yale University (Ph.D. 1969), she has taught at Yale, at Haverford, and—since 1981—at Harvard.

Garber has published fifteen books and has edited seven collections of essays. The scope of her work is both broad and deep—her topics range from animal studies to literary theory, but her work has mostly been centered on Shakespeare. Garber has written five widely admired books on the playwright, including her most recent, Shakespeare and Modern Culture (Pantheon, 2008); Profiling Shakespeare (Routledge, 2008); and Shakespeare After All (Pantheon, 2004), which received the 2005 Christian Gauss Book Award from Phi Beta Kappa. The book is an extensive study of Shakespeare’s plays, the fruits of more than twenty years of teaching large lecture classes at Harvard and Yale. Newsweek magazinechose Shakespeare After All as one of the five best nonfiction books of 2004, and praised itas the “indispensable introduction to an indispensable writer … Garber’s is the most exhilarating seminar room you’ll ever enter.” Tina Packer, Shakespeare & Company, says “Garber’s knowledge of Shakespeare is breathtaking. Her intellectual vigor and originality are in evidence on every page of Shakespeare After All,” and the San Jose Mercury News called the book “The best one-volume critical guide to the plays … Stimulating and informative.” According to Newsday,“Garber’s book is an enraptured ceremony of adoration … Ambitious and thorough,” and The Providence Journal calls it “A delight … Polished, thoughtful, eminently useful … The reader seeking an informed guide to each play simply cannot do better.”

Described by Jonathan Culler as “consistently our shrewdest and most entertaining cultural critic,” and by Catherine R. Stimpson, as “the liveliest, wittiest, and most scintillating of writers about culture,” Garber has also published a number of works of cultural criticism and theory: Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety (Routledge, 1992); Vice Versa: Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life (Simon & Schuster, 1995), Dog Love (Simon & Schuster, 1996), Symptoms of Culture (Routledge, 1998) Sex and Real Estate (Pantheon, 2000), and Quotation Marks (Routledge 2002). Her work on issues concerned with educational theory, and university culture include Academic Instincts (Princeton, 2001) and A Manifesto for Literary Study (University of Washington, 2003).

In her recent book, Patronizing the Arts (Princeton University Press, October 2008), Garber discusses the double meaning of the word “patronizing” and the way patronage (by government, by business, by individuals) has influenced the reception of the arts in the 20th and 21st centuries. Drawing on her own experience as Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard, and chair of the department of Visual and Environmental Studies, she argues with characteristic wit and passion for the centrality of the arts and culture in education today, and puts forward a vision of the university as patron of the arts.

Her newest book, Shakespeare and Modern Culture (Pantheon, Dec 2008), focuses on the reciprocal relationship by which modern culture makes Shakespeare and Shakespeare makes modern culture.

Garber is also currently at work on a collection of essays about the humanities, and on a new book about literature and its place in life.

Sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Department of English, the Office of the Provost, the Graduate School, Program for Gender Studies, Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Provost’s Distinguished Women’s Lecturer Program (Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts) and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.