In 1769 David Garrick, an actor, director, and theater promoter, created a centennial Shakespeare jubilee at Stratford-upon-Avon to start the Shakespeare tourism industry and to promote his own career as an interpreter and inheritor of the figure of Shakespeare. This is also the tipping point when Shakespeare the author starts to become Shakespeare the icon. Two hundred and forty-seven years later, as the world acknowledges the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, Rhodes College offers Memphians a snapshot of the world he left behind.
Instead of focusing exclusively on Shakespeare, Rhodes' 1616 Symposium covers economics, culture, art, science, performance, the role of women, and the roots of globalism. Symposium guests include Dr. Gideon Manning, an assistant professor of philosophy at Caltech who specializes in Renaissance medicine, and Indiana University's Dr. William Newman, who's the world's foremost expert on alchemy, with a particular interest in Isaac Newton's secret attempts to make gold in his lab.
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Dr. Scott Newstok, professor of English Renaissance literature and coordinator for the Pearce Shakespeare Endowment at Rhodes College, describes 1616 as a time "right in the middle of a complicated and powerful political emergence of the idea of the corporation." Dr. Henry Turner of Rutgers will discuss the medieval and Renaissance origins of treating business interests like people.
This deep dive into 1616 doubles as a portrait of the Bard. "I'm always hesitant to use the word 'genius,'" Newstok says. "But I think, if you want to talk about Shakespeare's ingenuity, part of that was clearly his ability to absorb so much of what he saw around him, and so much of what he sensed was topical or timely."