Professor Craig Dionne Presents at the University of Michigan

The Early Modern Colloquium at the University of Michigan invited Prof. Craig Dionne (PhD English Literature) to hold a workshop and lecture for faculty and students on his latest work, “Paleo Hamlet: Shakespeare and Cognitive Ethology. “ Dionne explored the connections between the latest evolutionary theories of human cognition and how these explain the success of English Renaissance language learning in producing cognitive pliancy and imaginative adaptiveness.

His presentation covered the way young children were trained to keep notebooks to help expand their memory and abilities to negotiate social circumstances.  Many scenes in Hamlet expose how the “co-evolved human brain”—seen in the play as recursive and open to new programming from various environmental influences—survives by employing cognitive “compression” (conceit making) and thinking through scenarios of growth and expansion to compensate for limits placed upon its world.  Hamlet is seen in this context as a symbol of human plasticity.

The morning workshop explored the value of posthuman theory in reading English literature.