Book Club & Lecture Series

Riverside Theatre’s Book Club unites theatre and book lovers through popular fiction/non-fiction books that connect to the work produced on our stages. This season’s book examines America’s historical political upheaval through the lens of one of one of Riverside’s favorite playwrights: Shakespeare. Shakespeare in a Divided America, written by James S. Shapiro,  Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and one of our nation’s preeminent Shakespearean scholars, looks at the role Shakespeare’s work played in some of America’s most defining political moments. 

Riverside’s Book Club will meet 3 times throughout the winter of our 43rd Season. Your ticket to the book club/lecture series comes with a complimentary beverage at each of our meetings, where you will get a chance to discuss aspects of the text and hear from area scholars and theatre professionals as they speak to the details and themes in the reading. Riverside is also committed to making events accessible to all members of our community. Because of this, we will also have a pay-what-you-can at the door option for each of the dates as well.

Dates & Reading Schedule: 

Monday, November 6th 7-9pm 

  • Introduction, Chapter 1 & Chapter 2 (1833: Miscegenation & 1845: Manifest Destiny)
  • Special Guests:
    • Professor Adam Hooks – Associate Professor of Shakespeare at University of Iowa, curated the exhibition “The Books That Made Shakespeare” at Iowa. 
    • Katy Hahn – Assistant Professor of Theatre at the University of Northern Iowa & professional actor with many Shakespeare credits

Monday, December 11th 7-9pm 

  • Chapter 3, 4, & 5 (1849 Class Warfare, 1865 Assassination, & 1916: Immigration)
  • Special Guests:
    • Professor Miriam Gilbert – Shakespeare Scholar, Professor Emeritus at the University of Iowa Department of English.
    • Kathleen Guerrero – MFA Acting student at the University of Iowa, recent intern at Shakespeare & CO, and Riverside Will Power Teaching Artist 

Monday, January 22nd 7-9pm 

  • Chapter 6, 7, Conclusion (1948 Marriage, 1998 Adultery & Same Sex Love, 2017 Left Right)
  • Special Guests:
    • Dr. Gina Hausknecht – Dr. Hausknecht teaches early modern British literature, including Shakespeare at Coe College
    • Adam Knight – Producing Artistic Director at Riverside Theatre


Get the Book:

Buy The Book: Prairie Lights is offering 10% off the book! We encourage you to buy your book local if you can!

Borrow the Book: Iowa City Public Library and the surrounding public libraries are an excellent option for borrowing a physical or audio copy of the book!

General Evening Schedule

  • Doors/Drinks open for mingle/chat at  7 
  • Speaker – 7:30-8:15
  • Mingle/Discuss/Leave by 9 

The Season 43 Book: Shakespeare In A Divided America

More about Shakespeare in a Divided America by The plays of William Shakespeare are rare common ground in the United States. For well over two centuries, Americans of all stripes—presidents and activists, soldiers and writers, conservatives and liberals alike—have turned to Shakespeare’s works to explore the nation’s fault lines. In a narrative arching from Revolutionary times to the present day, leading scholar James Shapiro traces the unparalleled role of Shakespeare’s four-hundred-year-old tragedies and comedies in illuminating the many concerns on which American identity has turned. 

From Abraham Lincoln’s and his assassin, John Wilkes Booth’s, competing Shakespeare obsessions to the 2017 controversy over the staging of Julius Caesar in Central Park, in which a Trump-like leader is assassinated, Shakespeare in a Divided America reveals how no writer has been more embraced, more weaponized, or has shed more light on the hot-button issues in our history.