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William Shakespeare, James Baldwin, progymnasmata exercises, fruitful study


This review essay addresses pedagogical principles found in Scott Newstok’s recent book How to Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education (2020). Specifically, the essay discusses the progymnasmata exercises of paraphrase and êthopoeia and provides real-life applications and examples. The essay also suggests how such study aims at “fruitful” effects, as well as providing distinctions between “fruitful” and “useful” study. Other points relevant to the fruitful ends of the study of the liberal arts, such as freedom and empathy, are discussed as they pertain to a student’s ability to think creatively and to express thoughts with clarity and originality. Finally, the essay highlights James Baldwin’s experience with reading, hating, and eventually accepting Shakespeare in order to provide readers with a tangible example of the fruitful ends of liberal education.