Nature and the Unnatural in Shakespeare’s Age
UPDATE: Extended through Aug. 26, 2012
Early Shakespeare editions are on view this spring in the Wilson Special Collections Library. The Rare Book Collection will display the Second, Third, and Fourth Folio collections of the bard’s plays.
The rare showing is part of the exhibition Nature and the Unnatural in Shakespeare’s Age. The exhibition examines tensions between the natural and artificial world in the imagination during the age of Shakespeare.
The Second Folio was printed in 1632 as a response to high demand for the First Folio. It compiled thirty-six plays and a new prefatory poem by a young John Milton.
The 1663 Third Folio (reprinted in 1664), and the 1685 Fourth Folio each contain seven additional plays attributed to Shakespeare. Of the seven, only Pericles continues to be sanctioned as part of the playwright’s canon.
Along with the folios, visitors will find sixteenth- and seventeenth-century books published in England and on the European continent. These include:
- herbals, natural histories, and travel accounts;
- works on cosmetics and agriculture; and
- magic and witchcraft treatises.
According to guest curator Jennifer Park, a UNC Ph.D. candidate in English, some of these works were read by Shakespeare, and others “promoted ideas about nature and the unnatural that clearly reflect the world he drew from.”
“Knowledge in Shakespeare’s time was a highly interdisciplinary endeavor,” said Park. “Nature was a hotly debated concept in scientific, moral, philosophical, religious, and political discourses.”
The exhibition coincides with a UNC graduate student conference titled “Shakespeare and the Natural World” that will take place on campus March 29-31. UNC professor Mary Floyd-Wilson will give a lecture March 29 about A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The free public lecture will take place in the Wilson Special Collections Library at 5:30 p.m. An exhibition viewing will begin at 5 p.m.
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream is Topic of March 29 Lecture
- Rare Book Collection in Wilson Library
- “Shakespeare and the Natural World” conference website