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Email: ralphalancohen@gmail.com

Ralph Alan Cohen is Co-Founder and Director of Mission at the American Shakespeare Center, Emeritus Professor of English at James Madison University, and is currently Gonder Professor of Shakespeare at Mary Baldwin College, where he founded the graduate program in Shakespeare and Performance.

He was project director for the building of the Blackfriars Playhouse and has more than thirty productions of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, including America’s first professional production of Francis Beaumont’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle. He also directed the first revival of Thomas Middleton’s Your Five Gallants and co-edited the play for Oxford University Press’s Collected Works of Thomas Middleton. He is the author of ShakesFear and How to Cure It: The Complete Handbook for Teaching Shakespeare.

He has twice edited special teaching issues of the Shakespeare Quarterly and has published articles on teaching Shakespeare as well as on Shakespeare, Jonson, and Elizabethan staging. He founded the Studies Abroad program at James Madison University, where he won Virginia’s award for outstanding faculty. He has directed four scholar summer institutes on Shakespeare and staging sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In 2001, he established the Blackfriars Conference, a bi-annual weeklong celebration of early modern drama in performance. In 2008, he and co-founder Jim Warren won the Commonwealth Governor’s Arts Award for the work of the ASC in spurring the state’s economic development through the arts. In 2009, he was the Theo Crosby Fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. In 2013, Folger Shakespeare Library's named him and the ASC its Shakespeare Steward Award winner for innovative teaching. In 2014, he was the first American to be awarded the Globe’s Sam Wanamaker award for pioneering work in Shakespearian theatre. In 2016 Duke University made him the recipient of its Graduate School Outstanding Alumni Award. He was awarded honorary degrees by St. Lawrence University and Georgetown University.

In 2020 at the Blackfriars Conference, his colleagues in Shakespeare, both on the page and on the stage, presented him with a book of essays entitled Shakespeare in the Light: Essays in Honor Ralph Alan Cohen.

He earned his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College and his doctorate at Duke University, where, as an usher in Cameron Indoor Stadium, he paved the way for Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

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