Entertaining the Idea: Shakespeare, Philosophy, Performance | Conference 3: First Philosophy, Last Judgments: The Lear Real

Alastair Thorne's picture
April 28, 2017
California, United States
Subject Fields: 
Early Modern History and Period Studies, European History / Studies, Theatre & Performance History / Studies

To entertain is to delight and amuse but also to receive guests and hence to court risk, from the real dangers of rape, murder, or jealousy to the more intangible exhilaration of self-disclosure and captivation in response to another. To entertain an idea is to welcome a compelling thought or beckoning fiction into the disinhibited zone of speculative play. “I’ll entertain the offer’d fallacy,” says Antipholus of Syracuse as he abandons himself to the comedy of errors. Like Antipholus, readers of fictions and viewers of plays entertain “themes” and “dreams” on their way to recognition and new knowledge as a mode of testing the significance and reach of the thought-things and person-problems, encountered in a world co-created by their imaginative participation.

The final conference queries the limits of performance in an exploration of King Lear on stage and off. Over the course of the year, philosophy’s commitment to the formation and transformation of persons through spiritual exercise finds its neighbor in drama’s arts of action, audition, and the conduct of living. To what extent, we ask, do Shakespeare’s plays train their many audiences to entertain ideas: to access drama as a means of tending and attending to self, others, and world in evolving stances of care and repair as well as inquiry and exegesis?

J. K. Barret, The University of Texas at Austin
Sanford Budick, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Kevin Curran, University of Lausanne
Martin Harries, University of California, Irvine
Paul A. Kottman, The New School for Social Research
Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times
Björn Quiring, Free University of Berlin
Eli Simon, University of California, Irvine

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CA 90095-1404

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