What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Top Five New Ideas About Shakespeare

April 12, 2011, 1:57 PM
Shakespeare

Once a year, the best minds in Shakespeare studies from both sides of the Atlantic convene for the Shakespeare Association of America conference. Last weekend, I was present for the 39th annual conference, in Bellevue, Washington, to participate in and report on the proceedings. Here are the top five big ideas to come out of the conference:

1. In a rhetorical tour de force, Laurie Maguire taxonomized the various deployments of “&c.” or “et cetera” in the Shakespearean canon and surrounding works, and showed how it altered from an elision of an obscenity—often standing in for female genitalia—to itself an obscenity. I will certainly be a bit more cautious now every time I begin to speak of an “etc.” in class.  

2. Another paper by Tiffany Stern connected Shakespeare more tangibly with popular entertainment.  Officially sponsored festivities like Bartholomew Fair had substantial influence on early modern theater while the puppet shows featured at such fairs also furnished pastiches of plays from different times and contexts.  The influence of Shakespeare even reached Italy in the form of a striking puppet named “Amleto."  

3. James J. Marino likewise gave a fascinating lecture showing how the attempt to reconcile various editions of the plays may obscure the fact that they were actually being revised in the intervening moments.  In particular, when the voices of the male actors playing female parts began to crack, the playwright or others could update these roles without having to alter all the cues and force the rest of the players to re-learn the materials. 

4. The always insightful Bradin Cormack demonstrated how over-eager emendations of “their” to “thy” in Shakespeare’s sonnets have removed the philosophical import from some of the poems and rendered them overly sentimental.  

5. In a seminar that I co-organized with Oliver Arnold on “Liberty and Bondage on the Early Modern Stage,” we talked about the different degrees of freedom contemplated both terminologically and temporally within the early modern period, the relation of bondage to emerging republican discourses of the seventeenth century, and the connections between sexuality and servitude.  

 

Top Five New Ideas About Sh...

Newsletter: Share: