April 22, 2014

Cornell Library Will Showcase Shakespeare Folios

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In honor of William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, Kroch Library will display all four folio editions of Shakespeare’s plays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Cornell is “one of the few places in the world” that has the opportunity to display all four folios, which were printed in the 17th century and donated to the University by William Mennen 1908 in 1953, according to a University press release.

Lance Heidig, outreach and learning services librarian at Cornell, said in the release that he is excited to give the public a chance to “obsess” over Shakespeare.

“It’s amazing, and so appropriate, that 450 years after Shakespeare’s birth, we’re still debating everything about him,” Heidig said. “He’s so permanent and yet so fluid in our culture; we’re still obsessed with him, from this week’s stories about finding his personal dictionary to debates about the ghostwriting of the plays to popular movies speculating about his love life.”

Prof. Stuart Davis, English, who teaches English 2080: Shakespeare and the 20th and 21st Centuries, said he feels it is “wonderful” to have the folios on hand and in view.

“They anchor us in the world of early modern literary and tell us how anchored we are. And they remind us of how contingent on material media our own literacy goes right on being — however different it may be from Shakespeare’s,” Davis said. “They say, ‘Don’t take print — paper, libraries and the people who work with these things — for granted.’”

Corey Shapiro ’17, a student in English 2080, said he feels the folios will serve as a supplement to several classes.

“Seeing the actual works from hundreds of years ago can not only serve as a great primary source for class but also help inspire students to learn more about Shakespeare and his era,” Shapiro said.

The folios will be on display in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collection on level 2B at Kroch Library. The exhibit is open to the public.