Shakespeare's Politics

In Shakespeare, Popularity and the Public Sphere (Cambridge University Press), English assistant professor Jeffrey S. Doty ('02 M.A.) examines the playwright's ideas about where political power originates.

The British monarchy wanted its subjects to imagine that it received its authority directly from God. But Shakespeare depicted how politicians maintained their power by managing public opinion.

Doty says he began thinking about these ideas during the 2000 presidential election.

"We want to be inspired by charismatic leaders who inflame our emotions," he says. "Shakespeare was a serious political thinker, and his plays anticipate the role of charisma and popularity from Bush to Obama to Trump."