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Shakespearian Dystopias
Campus Report ^ | February 13, 2008 | Bethany Stotts

Posted on 02/13/2008 2:03:04 PM PST by bs9021

Shakespearian Dytopias

by: Bethany Stotts, February 12, 2008

Chicago, Ill.— A recent Modern Language Association (MLA) panel hosted by the Division on Shakespeare asked “What Does Science Have to Do With Shakespeare?” According to Professor Henry Turner of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, if the question encompasses attitudes toward science, “then the answer to [the] question is: quite a bit.” He listed many areas on which Shakespeare’s work touches, including “cosmology, medicine, mathematics, meteorological phenomena....astrology, and other so-called ‘sciences.’”...

....Similarly, Professor Paula Blank argued that Shakespeare explored how humanity itself defies measurement. “Shakespeare’s rhetoric of measurement exposes more often than not the incommensurability of the quantification of human experience,” the College of William and Mary professor said....

Shakespeare’s commentary on science and society was so profound that the famous author Aldous Huxley copied themes wholesale from the Tempest in order to construct the American dystopian classic A Brave World, argues professor Maisano. “Upon a closer reading of Brave New World, it turns out that Aldous Huxley did not just take the title from Shakespeare’s last play—he imported everything from the Tempest,” he said. Among the Tempest elements transcribed into Huxley's futuristic world, he argues, are

• the swift-teaching method that Prospero perfects on Miranda;

• attempts to “artificially engineer social harmony;”

• an authoritarian leader who refuses to let others look at his book;

• and a “neoPavlovian” scene in which characters are tempted and then punished with loud sounds and electricity or lightning.

“All of this goes to directly into making the World State,” said Maisano...

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy; US: Massachusetts; US: Wisconsin
KEYWORDS: bravenewworld; mla; science; shakespeare

1 posted on 02/13/2008 2:03:07 PM PST by bs9021
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To: Holly_P

Here you go.

Of interest to you?

2 posted on 02/13/2008 2:48:37 PM PST by Graybeard58 ( Remember and pray for SSgt. Matt Maupin - MIA/POW- Iraq since 04/09/04)
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To: bs9021
Big topic. Usually I see MLA and Madison and go running for the exits. This particular one, however, begs for comment.

...she argues, “The philosophy of science is not an afterthought or belated commentary on modern science.”

I believe her to be correct. There is, after all, a historical reason why adepts in the sciences are rewarded with the title "Doctors of Philosophy." Shakespeare wrote during a particularly interesting cusp in the transition from the astrological to the astronomical, the alchemical to the chemical. This isn't difficult to find; the terminology litters his text. Stuck between the late Renaissance and the early Enlightenment, the sort of conversation you could hear in an Elizabethan public house must have been astonishing in its vibrancy and variety. And Shakespeare the playwright, (whoever the historical man might have been), had an incredible ear and an uncanny facility for finding the universal aspects of mundane circumstances.

It seems to me that philosophers of science both modern and less so seem to have an idea of the workings of science that differs in subtle ways from those actually doing it. "Observation, hypothesis, experiment, conclusion" is a tidy mental model that is easily remembered and seldom entirely accurate. Here the philosophy of science is much more the former than the latter. It's something to ponder when the convictions of the speaker or writer overcome his or her actual experience in the field. It happens a lot.

3 posted on 02/13/2008 3:06:43 PM PST by Billthedrill
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To: bs9021
Interesting article.

The Tempest is not as famous as Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, etc...

Along with the Merchant of Venice, the aforementioned have been made into phenomenal motion pictures.

I would love to see an adaptation of the Tempest in a professional modern motion picture.

4 posted on 02/14/2008 4:19:07 AM PST by Sir Francis Dashwood (LET'S ROLL!)
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