Difficult as it is to imagine today, in 1937 America’s two leading media companies fought over which had the better claim to Shakespeare. The Battle of the Bard explores this episode in US cultural history when NBC and CBS competed to perform Shakespeare for an American audience in a low-risk setting that they hoped would bring prestige to their networks. The resulting fourteen broadcasts are among the more remarkable recreations of Shakespeare of their time. This lively and engaging book shows the cultural dominance of radio at the time, and tells the story of why the networks each wanted to lord Shakespeare’s prestige over the other, how they put their series together, the critical reception, and the cultural impact and legacies of the broadcasts.
A Note on the Text?
Introduction: What was Radio?
Chapter One: Preliminary Bouts: Shakespeare on American Radio before the Battle
Chapter Two: In this Corner: Streamlined Shakespeare
Chapter Three: And in that Corner: The Columbia Shakespeare Cycle
Chapter Four: And the Winner is?: Aftermath, Afterlives, After Shows, and Alternative Shows
Afterword: A Brief Murky Consideration of Recreational Shakespeare as a Concept in Light of the Battle with Some Personal Reflections
An external website maintained by the author provides photos and audio clips: http://www.michaelpjensen.com/battle_of_the_bard_photos (for the photos) and http://www.michaelpjensen.com/battle_of_the_bard_photos/battle_of_the_bard_audio (for the audio links).