Northwestern Libraries to launch special Shakespeare collections exhibit


Source: Drew Scott

A copy of a rare second folio of William Shakespeare’s “Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies” will be on display this week as part of “Page & Stage: Shakespeare at Northwestern Libraries.” The exhibition celebrates 400 years since the playwright’s death with different artifacts related to his work.

Rachel Holtzman, Reporter


Starting Saturday, Northwestern students will have the chance to see and read artifacts dating back as far as the 16th century — all of which relate to Shakespeare’s work and other early modern theater.

Page & Stage: Shakespeare at Northwestern Libraries, which will be shown in University Library and the corridor leading to Deering Library will feature rare books, archives of photos from past campus and professional theater productions and multimedia education, learning services librarian Charlotte Cubbage said.

“There is no other figure in the humanities about whom more has been written,” she said. “He spans different disciplines and his reach goes deep into popular culture.”

The exhibit, which will be on display until Sept. 2, coincides with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Cubbage said because it is a unique date to celebrate, it is also a good opportunity to talk about the presence of Shakespeare in the library and on campus.

Drew Scott, a communications specialist at Northwestern Libraries, said the richness of NU’s archives may be surprising.

“It’s really easy to say that if you’re researching Shakespeare you’re going to find books, but one thing that’s surprising is it goes beyond the play,” Scott said. “The archives have photos and objects that open entire inquiries people may never have thought about. It collects that very thing — the archives collect everything with NU history.”

One of the University’s finds includes the Dublin Gate Theatre Archive, a grouping of memorabilia and notes in the library’s special collections that gives students an inside look into how theater companies are run daily, Scott said.

The archives to be presented include an original Second Folio, which is one version of Shakespeare’s complete works, set designs from student productions, literary analysis and photos, Cubbage said.

Along with Shakespearean artifacts, the exhibit also features educational information about the archives themselves.

One multimedia display addresses the ways in which English Prof. Susan Phillips, who focuses on medievalism in her work, has encouraged students to access the archives.

“I bring students in all of my classes to special collections so they get a chance to see how early productions were circulated and read,” Phillips said. “They get to see the text come alive and fundamentally kind of rethink what texts are and how they work.”

Phillips said she hopes the exhibit will make the library’s resources seem more accessible, when at times the archives may seem daunting.

“The idea is that looking at old books changes the way you look at old texts circulating,” Phillips said. “For example, the ‘To be or not to be’ speech from Hamlet exists in multiple forms. My hope is that students who look at this exhibit will want to go into special collections or take classes that let them get their hands dirty with these books.”

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