© 2019

Shakespeare and the 99%

Literary Studies, the Profession, and the Production of Inequity

  • Sharon O'Dair
  • Timothy Francisco

About this book


Through the discursive political lenses of Occupy Wall Street and the 99%, this volume of essays examines the study of Shakespeare and of literature more generally in today’s climate of educational and professional uncertainty. Acknowledging the problematic relationship of higher education to the production of inequity and hierarchy in our society, essays in this book examine the profession, our pedagogy, and our scholarship in an effort to direct Shakespeare studies, literary studies, and higher education itself toward greater equity for students and professors. Covering a range of topics from diverse positions and perspectives, these essays confront and question foundational assumptions about higher education, and hence society, including intellectual merit and institutional status.  These essays comprise a timely conversation critical for understanding our profession in “post-Occupy” America.


Shakespeare studies literary studies Shakespeare pedagogy higher education liberal arts education working-class studies socio-economic level and education cultural capital social mobility

Editors and affiliations

  • Sharon O'Dair
    • 1
  • Timothy Francisco
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Alabama, TuscaloosaTuscaloosaUSA
  2. 2.Youngstown State UniversityYoungstownUSA

About the editors

Sharon O’Dair is Professor of English, Emerita at the University of Alabama, USA. She is author of Class, Critics, and Shakespeare:  Bottom Lines on the Culture Wars (2000).

Timothy Francisco is Professor of English and Director of The Center for Working Class Studies at Youngstown State University, USA.

Bibliographic information


“The smartest, most original, and most useful book on Shakespeare and the politics of higher education I have seen in many years.  Shakespeare and the 99% shows at once how vital Shakespeare can be for thinking through the structural inequalities of a debt-driven higher education system and how necessary Shakespeare’s work remains to non-elite students, readers, and citizens increasingly alienated from the classrooms of ivy-clad academe.  Writing from an unusually wide range of institutional positions and professional conditions, the contributors weave sophisticated theoretical analysis with situated personal detail in ways that neither float upward toward pious abstraction nor descend to the merely anecdotal. The result? An account of Shakespeare’s work, in his world and in ours, that feels genuinely new; a style of criticism living up to the promise of critique and responding to the responsibility of pedagogy and accessibility; and a model for committed humanities scholarship in the twenty-first century.” (Henry S. Turner, Professor of English, Rutgers University, USA)

“An incisive, invigorating critique of the promise of the humanities following the 2008 financial collapse and the rise of a debt economy, Shakespeare and the 99% offers startling answers to questions of what we can do with Shakespeare and what Shakespeare can do for us: his plays engender and combat political cynicism; they bolster and dismantle the divisions of class, race, and gender structuring higher education today. An avatar for tradition and lever for social mobility, Shakespeare, it turns out, may be our best, last hope for a revitalized and relevant liberal arts.” (Amanda Bailey, Professor of English, University of Maryland, USA)

Shakespeare and the 99% offers an engaging, provocative look at the profession and challenges readers to rethink Shakespeare’s place in today’s neoliberal university.  An important call to action for Shakespeare studies, the collection challenges us to examine our roles as scholars and pedagogues in the twenty-first century.” (Louise Geddes, Associate Professor of English, Adelphi University, USA)