The 2021 Steven and Janice Brose Distinguished Lecture Series
October 14-16, 2021, Penn State University Park
Dr. Sarah E. Gardner, Distinguished University Professor of History at Mercer University
Shakespeare Fights the Civil War
These lectures will take the American Civil War as an extended case study to examine how warring parties engaged Shakespeare during America’s deadliest conflict. Shakespeare spoke to the cultural and political moment like no other figure. Macbeth and Julius Caesar had something to say about tyranny. The Tempest and Richard II offered a meditation on usurpation. And Henry V and Richard III told of war and its effects on those who waged it. What’s more, Shakespeare played a critical role in the nationalist strivings of both the Union and the Confederacy. Just as each warring party posited itself as the rightful inheritor of the Founding Fathers’ vision, both harkened back to Shakespeare in a similar fashion and for similar reasons. Shakespeare became a way to confirm belonging, as combatants were forced to articulate a new brand of nationalism, one based not on universal egalitarianism or civic inclusiveness, but rather on difference of habits, inclinations, tastes, and minds. In that sense, Shakespeare loomed large in the contending nationalist imaginations. Finally, Civil War-era Americans also turned to Shakespeare for universal truths. Shakespeare, they believed, spoke to abiding concerns, such as the soul of genius, the power of the imagination, and of the heroic individual’s ability to determine an event’s outcome. By elucidating how Unionists and Confederates interpreted Shakespeare and, in turn, how Shakespeare shaped their understanding of war, these lectures will reveal how the war’s participants thought of themselves and of their nations.
Admission is free and open to the public. Lectures are sponsored by the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center and co-sponsored by University Libraries.
About Dr. Gardner
Dr. Gardner is Distinguished University Professor of History at Mercer University, where she teaches courses on the Civil War Era, Literary Cultures of the Civil War, The World the Civil War Made, and the History of the Book in America. She has published widely on nineteenth-century cultural and intellectual history and on the American literary marketplace more broadly. She is currently finishing a book manuscript on reading during the American Civil War.
About the Broses
Steven H. Brose is a 1969 honors graduate in political science from Penn State and earned an M.A. in history from George Washington University in 2013. He received his J.D. from Columbia Law School and has spent his legal career with the international firm Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, D.C. His practice focuses on federal regulation of the energy industry, with emphasis on transportation issues for companies throughout the United States and Canada. He has served as an adviser to the governments of Ecuador and the Republic of Georgia and assisted the World Bank in its effort to open the Russian oil pipeline network to foreign investment and access. Steve is the 2004 recipient of the Service to Penn State Award from the College of the Liberal Arts Alumni Society and was designated a Centennial Fellow at the 2009 Centennial Celebration of the College of the Liberal Arts. In 2014, he was named a Penn State Distinguished Alumnus. He is a former chair of the college’s Development Council.
Janice Brose attended Penn State for two years before earning a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from The City College of New York. She later received an associate degree in nursing with certifications in Rehabilitation Nursing and Case Management. She is an avid birder and fond grandmother of three grandsons, one granddaughter, and two cats.
In 2019, Steve and Janice received the Chaiken Leadership Award from the College of the Liberal Arts.
About the Lectures
The Steven and Janice Brose Distinguished Lecture and Book Series in the Richards Civil War Era Center was established in 1998 and originally supported a single lecture by a distinguished visitor. The Broses added to the endowment in 2001, allowing a distinguished lecturer to deliver three related lectures over three days. The Broses’ generosity also enabled the Richards Center to enter an agreement with the University of North Carolina Press, which publishes the lectures as part of a series of scholarly monographs with Richard Center Director William Blair serving as series editor.
In order to share this work with the public and the greater academic community, the Richards Civil War Era Center has partnered with the University of North Carolina Press to publish expanded versions of these talks. Richards Center Director Emeritus William Blair serves as series editor.