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Shakespeare and America

Frances Teague

in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199566105
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199566105.013.0040

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Shakespeare and America

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In 1939, Esther Cloudman Dunn produced the first scholarly examination of Shakespeare in America, affirming that ‘some magic in his pages has made Shakespeare, along with the Bible, a constant companion of American development’. Other important studies followed, by Westfall, Wright, Shattuck, Levine, Bristol, Sturgess, and the Vaughans, all documenting the role Shakespeare has played in American life. Scholars agree that Shakespeare matters in America. This article begins with a brief overview of how Shakespeare entered American life in the eighteenth century as colonists began to imagine a national identity separate from England's, and explains how he provided Americans with a means of thinking about personal identity in the nineteenth century. Shakespeare's place in American mass culture is also important, particularly given America's pre-eminence in that area during the twentieth century.

Keywords: Esther Cloudman Dunn; Shakespeare in America; national identity; England; American mass culture

Article.  8116 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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