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Your Brain on Shakespeare

Written by The Reader, 15th April 2011

Ever wondered what rapper Snoop Dog, HBO's TV series The Wire, and Shakespeare have in common?

Shakespeare, like rappers, and the slang used by characters in The Wire, changed words,  borrowed parts of words from foreign langauges, joined words together and invented entirely new ones. Shakespeare invented approximately 1700 words in his plays and poems.

Professor Phil Davis' work on the 'Shakespeared Brain' has recently been featured on US blog, The Big Think. The interview tells us more about the impact of these creative inventions on our brain:

He is studying what he calls "functional shifts" that demonstrate how Shakespeare's creative mistakes "shift mental pathways and open possibilities" for what the brain can do. It is Shakespeare's inventions--particularly his deliberate syntactic errors like changing the part of speech of a word--that excite us, rather than confuse us.

Phil Davis, also editor of The Reader magazine, will be leading a seminar on the 'Shakespeared Brain' at the Reading for Wellbeing Conference on 17th May, with his colleauge from Bangor University, Professor Guillaume Thierry.

Contact Claire Speer to book your place.

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