How to Think like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education | Mechanics' Institute

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How to Think like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education
with Scott Newstok

Friday, August 27, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Held in partnership with the San Francisco Writers Conference

This event will be conducted via Zoom. Please register (button to the right) to receive the Zoom credentials.

A lively and engaging guide to vital habits of mind that can help you think more deeply, write more effectively, and learn more joyfully

Join author Scott Newstok for a presentation and discussion of How to Think like Shakespeare.

How to Think like Shakespeare is a brilliantly fun exploration of the craft of thought―one that demonstrates what we’ve lost in education today, and how we might begin to recover it. In fourteen brief chapters that draw from Shakespeare’s world and works, and from other writers past and present, Scott Newstok distills enduring practices that can make learning more creative and pleasurable. Challenging a host of today's questionable notions about education, Newstok shows how mental play emerges through work, creativity through imitation, autonomy through tradition, innovation through constraint, and freedom through discipline. It was these practices, and a conversation with the past―not a fruitless obsession with assessment―that nurtured a mind like Shakespeare's. And while few of us can hope to approach the genius of the Bard, we can all learn from the exercises that shaped him. Written in a friendly, conversational tone and brimming with insights, How to Think like Shakespeare enacts the thrill of thinking on every page, reviving timeless―and timely―ways to stretch your mind and hone your words.

Of particular interest to Mechanics’ Institute members is the chapter, “Of Making,” which confirms what we all know: making is a form thinking. As the editors of the 1623 Folio praised Shakespeare: “His mind and hand went together.” This kind of mindful making applies to everything from a physical object to a philosophical argument. Shakespearean craft is both cognitive and embodied. In the words of Shakespeare’s peer Ben Jonson, even writing itself is a “craft of making.” Or, as E. E. Cummings would later put it, “If a poet is anybody, it’s somebody who is obsessed by Making.”

How to Think like Shakespeare is available locally at Alexander Book Company.

Scott Newstok is professor of English and founding director of the Pearce Shakespeare Endowment at Rhodes College. A parent and an award-winning teacher, he is the author of Quoting Death in Early Modern England and the editor of several other books. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee. Find out more at

Plase contact Taryn Edwards if you have any concerns at [email protected]



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