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Shakespeare’s Birthday an Occasion to Reflect on the Problems of a Modern World

Released: 23-Apr-2014 10:50 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Cornell University
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Philip Lorenz, professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University, says Shakespeare’s plays haunt us from a past no longer ours and anticipates a future still to come.

Lorenz says:

“The 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth is a welcome occasion to reflect on many of the problems that make us 'modern.' Shakespeare challenges us to turn with renewed attention to problems of power and desire, the media, economy, belief, memory, history, debt, technology and risk, just to name a few – that haunt us in increasingly complex ways.

“In my own research on sovereignty and political theology, Shakespeare's plays serve as more than mere ‘case studies’ or thought problems. Rather they become sites of historical and theoretical exploration into ideas about power's origins and derivations, delegations, effects and bonds.

“We continue to struggle with the fantasy of sovereignty and the problems it gives rise to in the increasingly virtualized space of geopolitical transactions. Shakespeare provides us with terms and tropes, metaphors, for thinking about these problems in relation to changing horizons of what it is possible to think.

“Shakespeare's plays both haunt us from a past no longer ours and also in some ways anticipate a future still to come. They are passionate and intelligent, experimental and playful. They invite us to think with them, and for this reason alone, it's an invitation we should take up, as we reflect on a modernity that was in some ways inaugurated 450 years ago.”

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.

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