5 episodes

A series of talks from an interdisciplinary event held by the St Edmund Hall Centre for the Creative Brain in Oxford on 26 November 2016. The speakers interpret the theme of ‘Shakespeare and the Brain’ in various ways, examining it from the perspective of literature scholars, neuroscientists and actors. All the talks are aimed at a non-specialist audience.

Shakespeare and the Brain Oxford University

    • Education
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A series of talks from an interdisciplinary event held by the St Edmund Hall Centre for the Creative Brain in Oxford on 26 November 2016. The speakers interpret the theme of ‘Shakespeare and the Brain’ in various ways, examining it from the perspective of literature scholars, neuroscientists and actors. All the talks are aimed at a non-specialist audience.

    • video
    Shakespeare, Mind and World – Dr Tom MacFaul (Lecturer in English, St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford)

    Shakespeare, Mind and World – Dr Tom MacFaul (Lecturer in English, St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford)

    Tom discusses how Shakespeare’s age thought about thinking. In particular, he looks at the transformative power of thought and the idea in some of Shakespeare’s works that the mind is free to create its own world.

    • 37 min
    • video
    Shakespeare as Observer and Psychologist – Professor Paul Matthews (Fellow by Special Election, St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford; Edmond and Lily Safra Chair and Head of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London)

    Shakespeare as Observer and Psychologist – Professor Paul Matthews (Fellow by Special Election, St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford; Edmond and Lily Safra Chair and Head of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London)

    Paul focuses on some of the questions that Shakespeare was asking about the mind, and how the same sorts of issues are approached now by neuroscientists. In this talk, Paul looks at which areas of the brain are activated when we encounter imagery or a functional shift, and discusses whether it is processed in a separate space or if we experience something akin to the events that the words are describing.

    • 33 min
    • video
    Shakespeare’s Memory – Professor Rodrigo Quian Quiroga (Director of the Centre for Systems Neuroscience, University of Leicester)

    Shakespeare’s Memory – Professor Rodrigo Quian Quiroga (Director of the Centre for Systems Neuroscience, University of Leicester)

    Rodrigo’s talk references the writing of Jorge Luis Borges, particularly his short stories 'Shakespeare’s Memory' and 'Funes the Memorious', which deal with memory. He combines concepts from neuroscience about visual perception and memory with discussion of philosophical and literary ideas about the part played by memory in personal identity.

    • 44 min
    • video
    The Hunter Heartbeat Method – Kelly Hunter (actor, director and educator)

    The Hunter Heartbeat Method – Kelly Hunter (actor, director and educator)

    Kelly gives an outline of some of her work using sensory drama games, using Shakespeare’s works, to interact and play with children with autism. She draws on Shakespeare’s frequent use of the words ‘eyes’, ‘mind’, ‘reason’ and ‘love’, and the connections he draws between the four – what she describes as a “poetry of the brain”. These ideas can then help people with autism who are experiencing a disassociation of mind and body. She also explores the notion of the heartbeat as a barometer for our feelings, comparing it with Shakespeare’s use of rhythm to help convey his character’s feelings. From this, Kelly has over the last 15 years developed a method to tap into this with autistic children, particularly to help them play with different expressions.

    • 36 min
    • video
    Extracts from Shakespeare, read by Roland Oliver (actor): Richard II Act V, Scene 5; Macbeth Act II, Scene 1; Henry IV Part 2, Act IV, Scene 3

    Extracts from Shakespeare, read by Roland Oliver (actor): Richard II Act V, Scene 5; Macbeth Act II, Scene 1; Henry IV Part 2, Act IV, Scene 3

    Roland (an actor and alumnus of St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford) concludes the ‘Shakespeare and the Brain’ event by reading relevant extracts from three of Shakespeare’s plays. He also discusses the extracts briefly, in the light of some of the themes raised by the earlier speakers.

    • 25 min

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