Professor James Shapiro

Contact details

Professor James Shapiro
BA, Columbia University, (1977); Master's, Columbia University (1978); PhD, University of Chicago (1982)
Position/Fellowship type:
ST Lee Visiting Professorial Fellow, School of Advanced Study and Larry Miller Professor of English, Columbia University, New York
Fellowship term:
21-May-2013 to 22-Jun-2013
Central Services of the School
Home institution:
Columbia University, New York, USA
Related institutes:
Institute of English Studies
Philosophy Hall | MC4927 1150 Amsterdam Ave New York, NY 10027, USA
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Early Modern, English Literature
North America
Summary of research interests and expertise:

Shakespeare; medieval and early modern drama; Jewish studies; British poetry; the book review

Project summary relevant to Fellowship:

A series of free public lectures during the period of the fellowship in the UK – at the universities of Durham, London and Sussex – covering a range of topics including early modern biography and the Cowell manuscript.

Prof Shapiro's report on his fellowship in the School [PDF]


Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
19-Jun-2013 Research Symposium on the Cowell Manuscript

A KEY DOCUMENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE SHAKESPEARE AUTHORSHIP CONTROVERSY: A Research Symposium upon the Cowell Manuscript in the Durning-Lawrence Library, Senate House Library. Sponsored by: The Institute of English Studies, the Senate House Library and The Friends of Senate House Library

The theory that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare’s plays was given a dramatic boost when the Cowell Manuscript (MS294) at the University of London came to light in 1932. Here, it seemed, was evidence in the form of two lectures by James Corton Cowell from 1805 that the Warwickshire clergyman, James Wilmot, had been a Baconian in about 1785.

When the manuscript was publicised, it transformed scholarship, moving the theory back by over sixty years. But in 2010, Professor James Shapiro of Columbia University used textual evidence to expose the manuscript as an early-twentieth-century forgery in his Contested Will (Faber).

New insights on the manuscript’s provenance from its editor, Karen Attar, its editor, and from the recent forensic examination of the manuscript’s paper by the paper historian and analyst, Peter Bower, and its ink by Nicholas Eastaugh of Art Access and Research will augment the textual and literary findings of James Shapiro, currently ST Lee Visiting Professor in the School of Advanced Study, thus shedding new light on a longstanding and fiercely contested theory.

12-Jun-2013 Unravelling Shakespeare’s Life

James Shapiro is the Larry Miller Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of: Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?; A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599; Oberammergau: The Troubling Story of the World's Most Famous Passion Play; Shakespeare and the Jews; Rival Playwrights: Marlowe, Jonson, Shakespeare.

Contact for more information about this event.


29-May-2013 Interponed as a sheet of waste paper: Writing Early Modern lives

Speakers: Jim Shapiro (Columbia), Charles Nicholl, and Andrew Hadfield (Sussex)

Part of the series: Centre for Early Modern Studies and The School of Advanced Study Lecture

A symposium on the writing of biographies of Early Modern lives


21-May-2013 What can those who teach and study Shakespeare learn from those who perform his plays – and vice-versa?

Professor James Shapiro (Columbia University) and Professor Jonathan Bate (University of Oxford) debated with a director and actors from the Globe company the different ways that Shakespeare’s characters can be explored by actors and academics, how the insights of each can be valuable to the other – and what is different in the British and American approaches to Shakespeare.


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