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Shakespeare and Science

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.339  Wednesday, 30 July 2014

 

From:        Steve Sohmer < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 29, 2014 at 3:37:45 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Science

 

Dear Friends,

 

Sorry, but it’s Lawrence Weiss who is having a breakdown of historic proportions. Saxo’s Amleth was a 12th century invention. Shakespeare’s guy is 16th century, and goes to school in Wittenberg (founded 1502) ... where the Copernican model was taught from ca. 1543. Anachronisms were a common device employed by Shakespeare and other authors, a tactic for introducing current hot topics into ancient settings:

 

In the Second Shepherds’ Play the guys awaiting the birth of Christ spend their time grousing about the Enclosures Controversy, a clock strikes three in Julius Caesar, King John chews out Pandolph by reciting Henry VIII’s statutes against appeals, first fruits, annates, etc. 

 

Enough of this.

 

All the best,

Steve

 
 
Shakespeare and Science

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.338  Tuesday, 29 July 2014

 

From:        Lawrence Weiss < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 29, 2014 at 12:50:09 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Science

 

Steve Sohmer explains his thesis thus:

 

“Hamlet, being a student at Wittenberg, would have been taught the Copernican concept of a heliocentric solar system. . . .”

 

Actually, this is an excellent example of what historians call “anachronistic thinking.” Shakespeare, of course, was never scrupulous about the order of historical events, and it appears that Steve has a touch of Shakespeare’s malady. I don’t think that Hamlet, an 11th Century prince, would have been taught the discoveries on a 16th Century astronomer.

 
 
Shakespeare and Gaza

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.337  Tuesday, 29 July 2014

 

From:        Lawrence Weiss < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 29, 2014 at 12:38:54 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Gaza

 

> the accusation of anti-Semitism in the media must, at the 

>very least, be considered a legitimate topic for discussion.

 

While we’re at it, let’s also discuss the anti-Catholicism at the Vatican.

 
 
ISC 2014

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.336  Tuesday, 29 July 2014

 

From:        Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Subject:    ISC

 

Dear Subscriber,

 

I leave tomorrow for London, Stratford, and then back to London.

 

This is my ISC and theater trip.

 

I will be able to edit submissions tomorrow, but then there will be an interruption for a few days until I get over jet jag and settled into the too aggressive itinerary I have set for myself.

 

Hardy

 
 
Shakespeare and Science

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.335  Monday, 28 July 2014

 

[1] From:        Hugh Grady < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 17, 2014 at 11:04:01 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Science

 

[2] From:        Steve Sohmer < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 17, 2014 at 3:42:21 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Science 

 

[3] From:        Harry Keyishian < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 17, 2014 at 10:09:12 PM EDT

     Subject:    Shakespeare and Science 

 

[4] From:        Sean Lawrence < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 18, 2014 at 2:42:36 PM EDT

     Subject:    Science 

 

[5] From:        Abraham Samuel Shiff < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 20, 2014 at 6:52:37 PM EDT

     Subject:    Dan Falk’s “The Science of Shakespeare 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Hugh Grady < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 17, 2014 at 11:04:01 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Science

 

As always, Harry Berger makes a good point. I used a hasty formula; of course we have no direct access to Shakespeare’s beliefs. 

 

To say it more precisely: 

 

In one unequivocal instance, the famous speech on disorder in Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare has Ulysses refer to “the glorious planet Sol/In noble eminence, entrhoned and sphered/Amidst the other.” To paraphrase, the sun is a planet, with the other planets, in a circular orbit around the earth. There may be other allusions elswhere, but I can’t think of them. Perhaps others can. But I can think of no allusions to the Copernican system, let alone to Galileo. This suggests to me that Shakespeare took the geocentric system for granted. In any case, I know of no similarly clear evidence that he was familiar with the Copernican theory.

 

Hugh Grady

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Steve Sohmer < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 17, 2014 at 3:42:21 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Science

 

Dear Friends,

 

I think Hugh Grady misread my comment about Hamlet’s view of the universe. So let me restate it:

 

Hamlet, being a student at Wittenberg, would have been taught the Copernican concept of a heliocentric solar system. 

 

Ophelia, being Catholic, would not. Therefore, she would not doubt the Sun moves around the Earth. She would doubt the Earth moves.

 

For the record: in April 1757 Benedict XIV suspended the ban on publications about heliocentrism; the first Vatican pubs on the subject came in 1822.

 

I hope that’s clear now.

 

All the best,

Steve

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Harry Keyishian < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 17, 2014 at 10:09:12 PM EDT

Subject:    Shakespeare and Science

 

B. J. Sokol’s A Brave New World of KnowledgeShakespeare's the Tempest and Early Modern Epistemology  (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003) argues that The Tempest reflects proto-scientific modes of confronting the physical, biological, and human realm.  See https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781611472264

 

Harry Keyishian 

Director, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press

Professor Emeritus

Department of Literature, Language, Writing, and Philosophy 

Fairleigh Dickinson University

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Sean Lawrence < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 18, 2014 at 2:42:36 PM EDT

Subject:    Science

 

At the risk of stepping into an argument over Shakespeare’s views of the universe, I should point out that it may be more or less pointless. Assuming that Shakespeare was primarily interested in imagery, not astronomy, he’d just use whichever system produced the best imagery for the nonce. Ascribing views to the characters says more about their states of mind or level of education than about Shakespeare’s own.

 

In fact, we still tend to refer inconsistently to different models of the universe in our imagery. We refer to our position as “Third Rock from the Sun” (in the name of the long discontinued TV show), but also talk about the beauty of a “sunrise” rather than an “earthroll.” 

 

Yours,

Sean Lawrence.

 

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Abraham Samuel Shiff < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 20, 2014 at 6:52:37 PM EDT

Subject:    Dan Falk’s “The Science of Shakespeare” 

 

Dan Falk’s The Science of Shakespeare does not explain the Elizabethan science behind Hamlet Q2’s mortal coil. 

 

That mortal coil is a pun on Copernicus is argued in:

 

Mortal Coil and Stars with Trains of Fire:

Hamlet Q2 metaphors for the Copernican Astronomy and Kepler’s Nova of 1604.

 

The essay is available in Hamlet Works.  To navigate from the newly set Home Page:

 

-         Go to the Hamlet Works home page at: hamletworks.org 

-         At the top of the home page, place the cursor on Texts.

-         In the selection that opens under “Texts” click on Criticism.

-     Find the Mortal Coil essay near the bottom of the list, click on the title. 

 

     (You may select JPEG or PDF versions.)

 

The essay’s opening sections -- 1. Introduction, 2. Memento Mori, and 3. Competing Cosmologies—explains terminology used by the Elizabethans.  Shakespeare manipulates the Aristotelian astronomical concept of Spirals and the term Globe of Mortality (planet Earth) to make the pun.

 

Section 4. Wiser Sort demonstrates that the Elizabethan audience in 1604 knew of the Copernican theory, and mocked it as fantasy.  Shakespeare plays to this prejudice. 

 

The first four sections prepare the reader with the technical knowledge to understand the argument in section 5. Mortal Coil where the pun is analyzed.

 

Section 6. Stars with Trains of Fire argues the associated pun about the New Star that appeared in the heavens just weeks before Shakespeare’s Hamlet Q2 manuscript goes to print.  Embedded within the New Star pun is another on the plague that delayed James’s triumphal entry into London for his coronation.

 

Abraham Samuel Shiff 

 

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Graduate Student - Master of Liberal Studies Program

The Graduate Center - City University of New York   

 
 
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