Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily M. Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—James Shapiro, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, will speak about the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ at Bard College on Thursday, March 4. Presented by the Medieval Studies, Literature, and Human Rights Programs at Bard, the program, "'It Is as It Was'; What's at Stake in Mel Gibson's Passion," is free and open to the public and begins at 6:00 p.m. in room 102 of the F. W. Olin Humanities Building.

Screened prior to its official opening by selected groups, Passion has engendered both praise and condemnation: notably Pope John Paul II's purported comment, "It is as it was." Newsweek's February 16 cover story examines the historical record and Gibson's interpretation of it; petitions against the film have circulated over the Internet in the past year; and Gibson only recently chose to change one of the most highly charged lines in the film, "His blood be on us and on our children!" which was a focus of protestors. (The film is scheduled for release on Ash Wednesday, February 25, and will be shown locally at the Roosevelt Theatre in Hyde Park and Hudson Valley Mall in Kingston.)

James Shapiro is the author Oberammergau: The Troubling Story of the World's Most Famous Passion Play (selected by the New York Times Book Review as a "notable book" of 2000) that examines recent efforts to reform anti-Semitic aspects of the play produced in Bavaria since 1634. It has been noted that Gibson's Passion "may slow or even reverse 40 years of work explaining the common bonds between Judaism and Christianity," according to Jon Meacham in Newsweek. Shapiro is also the the author of Rival Playwrights: Marlowe, Jonson, Shakespeare (1991), and Shakespeare and the Jews (1996).

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Shapiro received a B.A. from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. After teaching at Dartmouth and Goucher Colleges, he joined the faculty at Columbia University in 1985. He has also served as a Fulbright Lecturer at Bar Ilan and Tel Aviv Universities and as the Wanamaker Fellow at the Globe Theatre in London.

Shapiro has codirected two National Endowment for the Humanities Institutes on Shakespeare, coedited the Columbia Anthology of British Poetry, and served as the associate editor of the Columbia History of British Poetry. He has received a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for university teachers and research fellowships from the Huntington Library and from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. He has also been awarded the Hoffman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship on Marlowe and the Bainton Prize for best book on 16th-century literature.

He lectures widely in the United States and abroad and writes regularly for the New York Times Book Review and other publications. Shapiro is currently finishing A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, to be published by HarperCollins and Faber & Faber in 2005. Shapiro is married, has a 7-year-old son, and divides his time between New York City and Thetford, Vermont. His niece, Maura Cregan, is currently in her second year at Bard.

For further information, call 845-758-6822.

# # #


back to top

This event was last updated on 02-13-2004