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Fall 2023


Shakespeare and the Occult Sciences in the Renaissance

What were the sciences of the occult in Shakespeare’s time? What was the purpose of such sciences? How do they fit in with the new scientific discoveries of the time? We will explore astrology, witchcraft, white magic, alchemy, Hermetic theology, and others in three of Shakespeare’s plays: Love’s Labour’s Lost, Macbeth, and The Merchant of Venice.

Shakespeare’s references to the occult, though obscure to contemporary readers, open us to themes such as the nature of scientific/esoteric knowledge and humankind’s position as mediator betwixt realms. We will seek clues and like sleuths, look for references to stars, numbers, letters, geometrical figures, and witches, among many other allusions. What unforeseen narratives will we discover? How will understanding occult sciences’ influence on Shakespeare affect your reading of the plays? Suspend your disbelief and find out.

Join the adventure!


Mondays, from 5 pm to 6:30 pm 

Beginning on Monday, September 11

Ending on Monday, December 4th  

Thanksgiving recess: November 18–26


Hadley Library:

Hadley Public Library
50 Middle Street
HadleyMA 01035

All sessions include both in-person and hybrid modalities.

The program is free of charge; donations are deeply appreciated.


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