It seems that Shakespeare and his plays have always meant something more to Americans than just a great night at the theater. In the years after the Revolutionary War, he became a symbol of the English past for some American authors—and a founding father of American literature for others. More than those of any other author, Shakespeare’s works have inspired clubs, community pageants, festivals, libraries, and more. In the 1990s, Shakespeare even became the subject of skirmishes in what the media called the “culture wars,” as disputes erupted over how his plays were taught in colleges and whether they would be required at all. But as those arguments came and went, one thing remained constant; whether or not they had to, students continued to sign up for courses on Shakespeare, a perennial favorite on most US campuses.