Folger and the Community

Engaging with the District

CrossTalk DC: What’s All This About?


CrossTalk DC is an experiment and an adventure. Seven DC institutions have linked arms, and together we invite community members from across the city to come together and to spend several months taking a closer look at the hot topics that can both divide and unite us: race, religion, identity, and difference. Starting with scenes from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and the Folger Theatre’s new retelling of that play, District Merchants, we’ll see what kind of sparks a bit of literature and history bring to our view of things, and to our conversations with one another.

As we began this project, we asked a handful of wonderful scholars to help us think through these hot topics as they come to us through the plays and through the history of Washington, DC. In order to keep us all thinking, we also asked each of them to share a little of their own thoughts and perspectives–and their own identities. Their short pieces give us even more to think about. The titles alone tell us this:


  • An Invitation from a Black Shakespearean
  • A Debt To Shylock
  • The Dilemmas of Conversion, Choice, and Constancy
  • Shakespeare’s “Other” Washington


In addition, our partners at the DC Public Library offered to create a special CrossTalk DC reading list, and they have delivered spectacularly. On behalf of all of our partners, thanks for linking arms with us. These topics are too important not to talk about.

We’ll be posting these piece and the reading list over the coming weeks so keep checking back!

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