Can life be both wonderful and terrible at the same time?

Prof. Shannon Murray

The modern world is increasingly polarised; we see things in black and white. How can Shakespeare teach us to hold two conflicting ideas in our heads simultaneously?

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Shakespeare’s work transcends the era in which it was written. What lessons can we learn from The Bard to navigate the polarised world we live in today?

Shakespeare continually challenged us to hold two conflicting ideas about people and situations in our head at the same time without resolving them. It’s an idea that recurs again and again throughout his most famous works.

In this fascinating talk, Dr. Shannon Murray joins The Garden to explain how through Shakespeare we can understand that life can be both wonderful and terrible at the same time, and why this idea is key to navigating our increasingly polarised, black and white world and living happier lives.

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50 minutes


Evolution of Language

About the Fellow

Prof. Shannon Murray

Dr Shannon Murray is a professor of early modern and children’s literature at the University of Prince Edward Island. Alongside Dr Dickson and Dr Riddell, she is completing a book for the University of Toronto Press on Shakespeare, Hope, and Empathy.

Evolution of Language Collection

How do languages evolve?  From the origins of language to bilingualism, this series journeys into the mysteries of this uniquely human trait and the power it has to change our world.