Literary scholar James Shapiro from Columbia University will discuss
Literary scholar James Shapiro from Columbia University will discuss "Shakespeare in America" Nov. 17.

Renowned Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro will give a free, public lecture about the Bard’s centuries of impact on U.S. literary and political life during “Shakespeare in America” at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Louisville Free Public Library.

The University of Louisville’s English department presents the 2016 Phi Beta Kappa Lecture with support from the Phi Beta Kappa Association of Kentuckiana.

Shapiro’s talk at the Main Library, 301 York St., is part of the Will in the Ville citywide celebration of all things Shakespeare. UofL, Louisville Free Public Library and the Frazier History Museum are the chief sponsors, but there are more than 45 community partners helping to mark the 400th anniversary of the author’s death. The “First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare” exhibition at the Frazier History Museum will run Nov. 10-Dec. 10, and several UofL professors will give gallery talks.

Shapiro will draw from his “Shakespeare in America” anthology, which he edited for the Library of America, to discuss how American writers from all regional, social, ethnic and political sectors have turned to Shakespeare in exploring issues that defined and divided the United States. His other books include “Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?” and “1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare” and “The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606,” expected this fall.

Shapiro is the Larry Miller professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. He serves on the Royal Shakespeare Company and Folger Shakespeare Library boards; the Folger, Cincinnati Museum Center and American Library Association have made the traveling First Folio exhibit possible through a grant.

The event is free but tickets are required. Register at or call 502-574-1644.