Shakespeare’s first folio. Image courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library is delighted to announce a new exhibition:And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the Four Humors.

Blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm. These four humors were once thought to shape a person’s mental and physical health, behavior and even personality. Initially borrowed from Ancient Greek thinkers like Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Galen, the theory of the four humors was so ingrained into the common wisdom of Shakespeare’s time that references to melancholic displays and choleric outbursts fill his most popular plays. The interplay between medical theory and theatrical language forms the basis of a fascinating exhibition, created by the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, and the Folger Shakespeare Library, now at UBC Library.

The traveling exhibition, “And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the Four Humors, has been supplemented with additional materials from UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections, exploring topics including Shakespearean theatre in British Columbia and Shakespeare in children’s literature. More information about the National Library of Medicine display and the materials at RBSC is available through the UBC Library website.

Many thanks to co-curators of the UBC Library collections materials Patricia Badir, Professor of English, Anthony Dawson, Professor Emeritus of English, and Department of English students Karol Pasciano (MA), Aiden Tait (BA Hons.), and Ana Maria Fernandez Grandizo (BA Hons.). Thank you also to John Christopoulos, Assistant Professor of History, for lending his subject matter expertise. UBC Library co-curators for the exhibition included Charlotte Beck, Chelsea Shriver, and Helen Brown.

The panels on loan from the National Library of Medicine will be on display at Woodward Library through July 14 and the books on display at Rare Books and Special Collections will be available through August 3, 2018. The RBSC reading room is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For Woodward Library’s hours, check their website. The exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

This past spring term, Rare Books and Special Collections hosted a number of classes from a wide variety of disciplines, including English, history, art history, German studies, Asian studies, and many more. We love hosting classes, as it allows us to introduce so many more students to our amazing collections. We especially love to see the results of the students’ work with our collections and the incredible insights they bring to their topics. Now we’re very happy to share some of this great student work with you!

One of the assignments for Professor Patsy Badir’s course, “Image and Text in Seventeenth Century Literature,” was an in-depth exploration of a single book from a selection of 17th-century items here at RBSC. Students were asked to research the history of the item and introduce it to a public audience online. We’ve shared a few student projects to share with you and hope you’ve enjoyed them.

Finally, Millika Veltmeyer’s exploration of the 1634 edition of The Workes of That Famous Chirurgion Ambrose Parey

https://ofmonstersandprodigies.weebly.com/

This edition of Paré’s works is currently on display for the exhibition And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the Four Humors, which is free and open to the public.

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