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Shakespeare Thinking

Philip Davis

DOI: 10.5040/9781472555311

ISBN: 9780826486950

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Shakespearean thinking is always dynamic: thinking that happens in the living moment of its performance, in quickly passing process. This book offers a model of human mentality that can be shown through the dense immediacy of dramatic thinking, as embodied above all in Shakespeare's working method.  Shakespeare Thinking discusses the positioning of Shakespeare as the paradigm of fully human mental creativity from the Romantics to the latest neurological experiments which show that Shakespeare can reveal new understandings of the hard-wiring of the human brain, and the sheer sudden electricity of its synaptic development.

-Mention. Daily Telegraph/ April 8, 2007

"In Davis's hands these ideas prove utterly exhilarating... This book is essential reading." - Peter G. Platt, Studies in English Literature, Spring 2008

"Philip Davis's Shakespeare Thinking is...a study more indebted to literary and scientific criticism that to actual Shakespeare production...Davis is perfectly capable of composing a coherent sentence; more often his prose is as clotted as cottage cheese...Davis is an intelligent man, but I would avoid his classroom at the University of Liverpool if I were you." - Robert Brustein, American Theatre, September 2008

Mention -Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance, Tome LXX-2008

"Davis offers a series of intricately realized and highly satisfying close readings of Shakespearean language and character....offers one of the more productive of the many recent encounters between literary criticism and neuroscience. The emphasis on the dynamic, on connections and the 'movement between' static locations is a valuable antidote to the reductive localization that sometimes makes vulgar versions of neuroscience resemble a new phrenology...good grounds for optimism about the new dialogue between literary criticism and neuroscience because the are interested in genuine dialogue between the two cultures...there are old things which Shakespeare can teach to brain scientists." A Journal of Neurology, 2009 

"The ambitious project of the Shakespeare NOW series is to bridge the gap between 'scholarly thinking and a public audience' and 'public audience and scholarly thinking'. Scholars are encouraged to write in a way accessible to a general readership and readers to rise to the challenge and not be afraid of new ideas and the adventure they offer. There are other bridges the series is ambitious to cross: 'formal, political or theoretical boundaries' - history and philosophy, theory, and performance." English Vol. 58, 2009

"[Shakespeare Now! is] an innovative new series... Series editors Simon Palfry and Ewan Fernie have rejected the notion of business as usual in order to pursue a distinctive strategy that aims to put "cutting-edge scholarship" in front of a broad audience. Shakespeare Now! with its insistent appeal to the contemporary- this is fresh Shakespeare for readers turned off by the prospect of dry-as-dust scholarship-aims to reach a general audience... Combining brain science with Shakespeare studies, Davis [in the book Shakespeare Thinking] has provided a lively and interesting account of what he elsewhere terms "the Shakespeared brain."... [this book] announces the emergence of a significant trend that will surely attract increasing attention in the years ahead... Shakespeare Thinking is an anxious plea for the continuing relevance of humanism"

"Shakespeare Thinking is a powerful plea for criticism to engage afresh with Shakespeare's language as the 'quick forge' of a vision that defies paraphrase or synopsis. An urgent, absorbing polemic and a compelling quest to crack the plays' unique poetic code." - Professor Kiernan Ryan, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

"Where is Shakespeare now? This question is the brief for a new series of short books from Continuum, an enterprising publisher trying to break down the border between academic literary criticism and books for the thoughtful general reader...Philip Davis's Shakespeare Thinking proposes that Shakespeare's poetry functions like a 'Renaissance brain scanner': his line-endings are a 'form of slow-motion eye-map for actors' voices that offer deep insight into the working of the human brain.' This may sound fanciful, but Davis is such a gifted close reader of the ebb and flow of Shakespearean language that he persuades us he is really on to something." - Jonathan Bate, The Sunday Telegraph Sunday Telegraph