The exhibition, “And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the four humors, will run from June 4 to July 14, 2018, at Rare Books and Special Collections on Level 1 of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and in the Memorial Room at Woodward Library. The theory of the four humors was initially borrowed from Ancient Greek thinkers like Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Galen. These four humors included blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm. They were considered to shape a person’s mental and physical health as well as behavior and personality. References to melancholic displays and choleric outbursts which stem from the four humors can be found in a lot of Shakespeare’s 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. The exhibition will feature additional materials from UBC Library’s collections to explore related topics, such as Shakespearean theatre in British Columbia and Shakespeare in children’s literature. Collection highlights will include: the second edition folio of Shakespeare’s complete works (1632), first editions of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590), John Donne’s Poems (1633), and George Herbert’s The Temple (1633), along with medical manuals such as 16th century midwifery book The byrth of mankynde (1540) by Eucharius Rösslin and milestone physiology book, Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus (1628) by William Harvey.
Take this opportunity to view rare materials portraying Shakespeare’s enduring relevance throughout the ages. The exhibition is open to the general public as well as UBC students, staff and faculty.
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