The Poet's Pen: How Shakespeare Learned to Write with Dr. Kurt Schreyer

The Poet's Pen: How Shakespeare Learned to Write with Dr. Kurt Schreyer


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How did Shakespeare come up with all of those memorable lines? From his Stratford schoolroom to the London stage, we'll explore how Shakespeare's education shaped some of the most famous words in the English Language.

"“To be, or not to be…” We tend to think of these famous words, and indeed most of Shakespeare’s beautiful poetry, as uniquely his own. But Shakespeare himself would have considered this a rather strange, and perhaps insulting, idea. The notion of originality was fundamentally opposed to everything he and his contemporaries were taught about writing poetry.

How, then, did Shakespeare learn to write? This seminar will look inside Shakespeare’s schoolroom in Stratford-upon-Avon to glimpse the curriculum of his Latin Grammar education and to discover the kinds of daily exercises that he and other boys were required to perform. Our aim will be not only to consider whether Shakespeare had a good education (he did) but more importantly to better understand that education would later serve him as a busy poet and playwright.

We’ll put these questions to the test by looking specifically at some of the most famous scenes and speeches in Shakespeare — from Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Henry V, The Taming of the Shrew, and more. This will also require us to familiarize ourselves with the workings of Shakespeare’s acting company: how he came up with his plots; what happened to his plays after he wrote them; how his actors learned their parts, and so forth. If you’ve ever imagined what it would be like to look over Shakespeare’s shoulder while he was at his desk, this seminar is for you.

Kurt Schreyer is a professor of English Literature specializing in Shakespeare and early English drama. He received his MA from the University of Notre Dame and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. “An extravagant and wheeling stranger of here and everywhere” (Othello 1.1.134-5), he has taught at Fordham University, Hunter College, and the University of Missouri in St. Louis where he now lives. In his teaching he tries to foster students' curiosity by "making the Renaissance strange" rather than familiar or relevant — underscoring the historical, cultural, and linguistic differences between pre-modern England and our own society.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 7 reviews
71%
(5)
29%
(2)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

M
M.R.
Rich scholarship, fascinating argument

I loved this Conversation! Professor Schreyer's generous deep scholarship and fascinating argument enriched my understanding of education in Shakespeare's time and how the genius of his writing was shaped by it.

A
A.M.
Learned New Things

I have an extensive education in English Literature, and Prof. Schreyer took to areas of knowledge to which I have not been exposed. A well researched and enthusiastically presented lecture. Bravo!

L
L.
Excellent and fascinating

This presentation was what I always hope for when signing up for a Context Conversation - giving information that genuinely expands my understanding and lots of new ideas and connections that deepen my thinking about and appreciation of a subject.
A few issues with timekeeping (too many slides, not enough time) but no doubt they can easily be ironed out.
A great lecturer and a fascinating subject. More of this please!

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

Customer Reviews

Based on 7 reviews
71%
(5)
29%
(2)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

M
M.R.
Rich scholarship, fascinating argument

I loved this Conversation! Professor Schreyer's generous deep scholarship and fascinating argument enriched my understanding of education in Shakespeare's time and how the genius of his writing was shaped by it.

A
A.M.
Learned New Things

I have an extensive education in English Literature, and Prof. Schreyer took to areas of knowledge to which I have not been exposed. A well researched and enthusiastically presented lecture. Bravo!

L
L.
Excellent and fascinating

This presentation was what I always hope for when signing up for a Context Conversation - giving information that genuinely expands my understanding and lots of new ideas and connections that deepen my thinking about and appreciation of a subject.
A few issues with timekeeping (too many slides, not enough time) but no doubt they can easily be ironed out.
A great lecturer and a fascinating subject. More of this please!

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment