Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, The New School for Social Research (Affiliation in the Department of Philosophy). Visiting Professorships at the University of Tokyo, Japan, 2012; Università degli studi di Verona, 2011; Istituto per gli studi filosofici, Naples, Italy, 2007; Visiting Professor and International Chair in Political Languages, Dipartimento di Politiche Pubbliche e Scelte Colletive (POLIS), Università del Piemonte Orientale, Italy, 2006. Series Editor, Square One: First Order Questions in the Humanities (Stanford University Press); Advisory Board, Columbia Themes in Philosophy, Social Criticism and the Arts (Columbia University Press); Advisory Board, Corpus: Filosofie e sapere (Paparo Edizioni, Italy).
Why Do We Care About Shakespeare?
My project considers Shakespeare’s importance to a central modern challenge: the construction of a public culture based on something other than a national or religious tradition. In particular, I look at the interpretive challenges posed by Shakespeare’s work — those questions that Shakespeare forces us to ask about ourselves, and our self-understanding. I argue that Shakespeare forces us to think about what justifies our self-expressive actions and values, but without relying on ›tradition‹ or ›revealed religion‹ or ›scientific knowledge‹ to fully do that thinking for us. I undertake my investigation with the help of some German philosophical readers of Shakespeare — Herder and Hegel, especially — since they were the first to see in Shakespeare’s work the possibility of this post-national, post-religious public culture.