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Why Shakespeare Matters Today: Rethinking Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, February 2, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0663
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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"Othello and Desdemona" by Antonio Muñoz Degraín, 1880

Why are William Shakespeare’s plays still considered essential reading, some four hundred years after they appeared? How can lessons from his Elizabethan theatrical universe help us to better understand social and political conflicts we confront today?

Referencing three of the playwright’s greatest tragedies—HamletOthello, and King Lear—Joseph Luzzi, professor of comparative literature at Bard College, explores the elements that keep Shakespeare so vital and relevant a force in popular culture. Luzzi sets these works within the modern context as he focuses on Shakespeare’s prodigious contributions to the English language, unparalleled—some say, uncanny—grasp of human psychology, and use of literary form that hasn’t lost the power to astonish and captivate audiences.

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