Virtual Event: Scott Newstok at Southern Methodist UniversityHow to Think Like Shakespeare


How to Think Like Shakespeare, in 14 Stages of Mind


The educational assumptions that shaped Shakespeare were strikingly at odds from our own. Yet thinkers trained in this unyielding system generated world-shifting insights, founding fields of knowledge that we still study. Thinking like Shakespeare disentangles a whole host of today’s confused educational binaries. We now act as if work precludes play; imitation impedes creativity; tradition stifles autonomy; constraint limits innovation; discipline somehow contradicts freedom; engagement with what is past and foreign occludes what is present and native. Yet Shakespeare’s era delighted in exposing these kinds of dilemmas as false: play emerges through work; creativity through imitation; autonomy through tradition; innovation through constraints; freedom through discipline. It’s by revivifying the foreign country of the past that we can make the present our own.

Scott Newstok is professor of English and founding director of the Pearce Shakespeare Endowment at Rhodes College. A parent and an award-winning teacher, he is the author of Quoting Death in Early Modern England and the editor of several other books. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.