Shakespeare in the Library

ShakespeeareFeeling melancholy? Know someone who’s a little hot-tempered? Did you know that the tradition that gave us these descriptions was also the foundation of medical practice?

A new exhibit in the Norris Library foyer explores this ancient and fascinating history and its influence on modern culture and literature. “Shakespeare & the Four Humors” illustrates pre-modern humoral medicine and examples of this early medical tradition in Shakespeare’s works.  Originally inspired by the National Library of Medicine’s exhibit “…And that’s the humor of it,” the  exhibit showcases some of the library’s oldest and rarest works, including Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum and botanical plates from as far back as 1492.

The exhibit also explores how the humoral tradition has persisted in varying forms in non-Western medical traditions. A bibliography included in the first case suggests further reading on the topic available at Norris Medical Library.

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