Shakespeare Interview with Peter Leithart

shakespeareOne of my joys earlier this year was being able to interview Peter Leithart about Shakespeare for the July/August 2014 issue of Touchstone. You don’t have to be a subscriber to Touchstone to read the interview, which has been put on the Touchstone website at the following link:

The Art & Craft of Shakespeare: An Interview with Peter Leithart

Here are some of the questions I asked Dr. Leithart:

  • Many people perceive Shakespeare as a relic of a bygone age. After all, he lived in a time before there were smartphones, internet, even TV. Is Shakespeare even relevant for the type of society we now inhabit?
  • We know very little about the historical Shakespeare, which means that his plays and poems are really all we have to go on when trying to discern his vision of the world. But do his works even convey a certain vision of the world?
  • When I talk to people about Shakespeare, one of the things I hear is that Shakespeare is a subject you study in school, but then leave behind when you’re grown. How can we instil in our kids a love of Shakespeare, so that his works aren’t perceived as just another subject?
  • We live in an era that tends to be very utilitarian in its approach to learning. Does this utilitarian type of mentality block our ears to the grandeur of Shakespeare? And does Shakespeare himself challenge this purely functional way of operating?
  • It can sometimes be tempting for Christian educators to look at literary works as little more than fodder for worldview analysis, thus neglecting the dimensions that make those works great in the first place. In the case of Shakespeare, though he has much to teach us about human nature that coheres with the Christian worldview, his works are memorable mainly because he was such a great storyteller. Is this dimension of Shakespeare in danger of being overlooked by a “worldview-ism” approach to literary texts?
  • In your writings about Shakespeare, you uncover many wonderful themes and make lots of interesting connections. However, I sometimes wonder if your mind is overactive in seeing significances that perhaps Shakespeare never intended. If so, would this even be a problem? Does literary criticism need to be constrained by authorial intent?
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