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Shakespeare and the wandering mind

Shakespeare Lecture, delivered by Dr Raphael Lyne, on 10 May 2018 (venue: Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe, London).

It seems obvious that when we’re watching a Shakespeare play, we should pay attention. When our focus drifts, we risk missing something. However, philosophers and scientists have proposed that our minds do important work while they are wandering. This lecture will argue, with reference to Much Ado About Nothing and Henry V among others, that Shakespeare depicts interesting patterns of attentiveness within his works, and that at times he also creates the opportunity and even the need for the minds of audiences and readers to wander.

Dr Raphael Lyne is a Reader in Renaissance Literature in the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Murray Edwards College. He is the author of four books, and the editor (with Cathy Shrank) of The Complete Poems of Shakespeare (Routledge, 2017). He also writes a blog called 'What Literature Knows About Your Brain'.

Professor Lorna Hutson FBA, Merton Professor of English Literature, University of Oxford.

More about the Shakespeare Lectures