149 episodes

Home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare materials. Advancing knowledge and the arts. Discover it all at www.folger.edu. Shakespeare turns up in the most interesting places—not just literature and the stage, but science and social history as well. Our "Shakespeare Unlimited" podcast explores the fascinating and varied connections between Shakespeare, his works, and the world around us.

Folger Shakespeare Library: Shakespeare Unlimited Folger Shakespeare Library

    • Arts
    • 4.8, 442 Ratings

Home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare materials. Advancing knowledge and the arts. Discover it all at www.folger.edu. Shakespeare turns up in the most interesting places—not just literature and the stage, but science and social history as well. Our "Shakespeare Unlimited" podcast explores the fascinating and varied connections between Shakespeare, his works, and the world around us.

    Sandra Newman on "The Heavens"

    Sandra Newman on "The Heavens"

    A young woman falls asleep in the 21st century and slowly finds herself slipping into 16th-century England, where she falls in love with an obscure young poet named Will. Sandra Newman’s new novel The Heavens crosses genres. You could call it historical fiction, with its meticulously accurate 16th-century details. You could call it science fiction for its use of time travel and parallel worlds. It’s also a really good, sexy romance novel about Emilia Bassano, the woman who some believe was the inspiration for half of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Sandra Newman joined us recently to talk about what inspired this novel and what it tells us about love, mental illness, and the past, present, and future. Newman is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev. Sandra Newman is the author of four novels, including The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done, Cake, and The Country of Ice Cream Star. Her latest, The Heavens, was published by Grove Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, in 2019. From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published May 26, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “If I Should Despair, I Should Grow Mad” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. Special thanks to Derek Rusinek and James Walsh at Threshold Recording Studios NYC in Manhattan and Andrew Feliciano at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California for their technical help.

    • 35 min
    Kathryn Harkup on "Death by Shakespeare"

    Kathryn Harkup on "Death by Shakespeare"

    It’s quite a list: Hanged. Prison fever. Stabbed. Stabbed. Poisoned. Beheaded. Beheaded. “Malady of France.” Cannonball. Burnt. Bitten. Eaten. Mauled. Shakespeare wrote about a lot of things, but he really wrote a lot about death. Chemist and science communicator Dr. Kathryn Harkup’s new book is Death By Shakespeare. In it, she takes her readers through a fulsome exploration of death in the plays and provides plenty of grizzly explanations of just what causes it all. We talk to her about a some of those deaths, dying in Shakespeare’s world, and why gruesome deaths feature so prominently in stories from Shakespeare to CSI. Harkup is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev. Dr. Kathryn Harkup is a chemist, author, and science communicator. Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts (published in the US by Bloomsbury Sigma, 2020) is the third in her series of books joining popular fiction and science, which also includes A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie and Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. From our Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published May 12, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “Death is Certain,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer.

    • 35 min
    Shakespeare and Solace

    Shakespeare and Solace

    Do you have a passage from Shakespeare that you return to in difficult times? Is there a sonnet or soliloquy you keep coming back to for comfort or wisdom? This episode of Shakespeare Unlimited will be a little different. We sat down with the Folger’s director, Michael Witmore, and his predecessor in that office, Director Emerita Gail Kern Paster, to talk about the bits of Shakespeare that bring them solace. We also reached out to a few friends of the podcast and asked them to share a little Shakespeare with us. In the 52 minutes traffic of our episode, you’ll hear from Molly Booth, Ian Doescher, Lauren Gunderson, Keith Hamilton-Cobb, Derek Jacobi, Iqbal Khan, Fran Kranz, Ryan North, James Shapiro, Paul Werstine, Casey Wilder Mott, and Stephan Wolfert about the words they’ve been pondering in these troubling times. We hope you'll take some solace in those words too.  From our Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published April 28, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “One Thing to Rejoice and Solace In” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer.

    • 52 min
    The Long Life of Shakespeare's Sonnets

    The Long Life of Shakespeare's Sonnets

    Today, we think of Shakespeare’s Sonnets as a triumph. We read them, puzzle over them, and recite them. We compare our significant others to summers’ days, beweep our outcast states, and never admit impediments to the marriage of true minds. But it might surprise you to learn that in the past, the Sonnets didn’t have quite the same great reputation. We asked Roehampton University professor Jane Kingsley-Smith back to Shakespeare Unlimited for a second episode about the Sonnets’ tortuous history. The author of The Afterlife of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Kingsley-Smith tells us about periods in the 1600s and 1700s  when some readers thought the sonnets were inauthentic, or immoral, or just that they had too many puns. Finally, we pay a visit to the 1800s, when writers like William Wordsworth and Oscar Wilde salvaged the poems’ good name. Jane Kingsley-Smith is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev. Dr. Jane Kingsley-Smith is Deputy Head of the Department of English & Creative Writing at Roehampton University in London. She edited Love's Labor's Lost for the Norton Shakespeare Series Third Edition, and The Duchess of Malfi for Penguin in 2015. She is the author of Shakespeare's Drama of Exile, published by Palgrave in 2003, and Cupid in Early Modern Literature and Culture, published by Cambridge University Press in 2010. Her latest book, published in 2019 by Cambridge is The Afterlife of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. Published April 14, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “Return to the Verses,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. We had technical helped from Evan Marquart at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Dom Boucher at The Sound Company in London.

    • 35 min
    Emma Smith on "This Is Shakespeare"

    Emma Smith on "This Is Shakespeare"

    Is there a right way to interpret Shakespeare’s plays? No, says Oxford University’s Emma Smith, and there’s a good reason for that. In her new book, This Is Shakespeare, she writes that Shakespeare’s plays are characterized by gaps—unknowable elements and unanswered questions that require us to insert our own readings. These gaps, opened up by history, dramatic from, and Shakespeare’s tendencies as a writer, mean that these plays are much less tied up, spelled out, or clear cut than we like to think. In this episode, Barbara Bogaev talks to Emma Smith about her book, and some specific gaps in Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, Measure for Measure, and The Tempest. Dr. Emma Smith is Professor of Shakespeare Studies, Faculty of English and a Fellow of Hertford College at Oxford University in England. Her new book, This Is Shakespeare, was published in the US by Pantheon, an imprint of Penguin Random House, in 2020. From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published March 31, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “That’s Not My Meaning,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. We had technical helped from Andrew Feliciano at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Rich Woodhouse at Electric Breeze Audio Productions in Oxford, England.

    • 34 min
    James Shapiro on "Shakespeare in a Divided America"

    James Shapiro on "Shakespeare in a Divided America"

    Despite our country feeling more divided than it has in 50 years, there are still things that tie us together. Loving our families, cheering on a favorite team, and—according James Shapiro—Shakespeare. Shapiro is an eminent Shakespeare scholar, who, like many Americans, has found himself confused and troubled lately by the divisions in our country. And as an eminent Shakespeare scholar, he looked to Shakespeare to respond to that confusion. In his new book, Shakespeare in a Divided America, Shapiro puts forward what he sees as a completely new and unique approach to American history. The book looks at times when our nation seemed at its most fragile and disconnected and tells those stories through their connections to Shakespeare. James Shapiro is the Larry Miller professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and the Shakespeare scholar in residence at New York's Public Theater. He has written several award-winning books on Shakespeare including A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599, Contested Will; Who Wrote Shakespeare?, and The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606. His latest book, Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future, was published by Penguin Press in 2020. From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. Published March 17, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “O Nation Miserable,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Jim Bittle, Senior Director of Broadcast and Multimedia Technology at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
442 Ratings

442 Ratings

EWRman ,

An enriching experience!

These podcasts have helped my understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare’s works, his times, and his impact on the arts, culture and society through the ages. I enjoy them on my walks and other quiet times. Thank you!

Mairead Deegan Kinirons ,

Shakespeare Love Fest

I often feel lonely in my love of Shakespeare - like others are “humoring” me and pretending to like him as much as I do. But when I listen to this podcast, I feel like I am with my “peeps” - who aren’t intimidated and really could explore him endlessly. With gratitude.

DavidBWriter ,

A Wonderful Discovery

I’m fairly new to the podcast world, so it was a happy accident that I discovered Folger’s Shakespeare Unlimited program. I’ve recently started reading the sonnets and found one the podcasts that focused on that subject from January. Listened during my evening walk. Absolutely delightful ... informative, interesting, conversational. I’m very excited to start working my way through previous episodes to see what I’ve been missing, covering terrain I’m more familiar with: the plays!

Top Podcasts In Arts

Listeners Also Subscribed To