UI Main Library Hosts Exhibition Of Shakespeare’s First Folio

If there’s one thing that you, my readers, request a lot, it’s more updates about what I’ve been doing in college! In particular, there seems to be a lot of interest in talking specifically about projects, papers, et cetera in addition to my monthly college updates… and since I’ve only ever shared some of my past papers before, today you’re in for something special! 

I’ve been exceptionally busy lately, as you may have noted by my absence from social media (well, compared to how much I usually post there, which is A LOT… I’m not proud) and rather brief conversations IRL. That’s because I spent the past two weeks working on a big journalism project as well as a major paper for one of my lit classes!

The project I’m sharing today was created for Journalistic Reporting & Writing and Intro to Multimedia Storytelling. These classes must be taken concurrently and share the same major assignments.

For this particular project, we were required to create a reaction story concerning an issue of concern to Iowa City and/or the University of Iowa. In JRW we had to interview at least six people, one of which had to be an expert on the issue, and turn our research and interview notes into a news article. In MMS, we had to conduct an interview at least ten minutes long with that same expert and edit it down to between three and four minutes. 

I have not yet received a grade for the JRW half of the assignment, but in MMS I got 96%! I’m really happy about that because I spent six hours editing the audio, which included both cutting extraneous sections and rerecording the intro/outro and questions to damn near perfection. 

And so, without further ado, here is that project. 

Well, actually, there’s “a little more ado,” as my lit professor is so fond of saying: We created our own websites for this course and I found a post on my discussion section partner’s site from when we did classmate interviews a few weeks ago. So if you’d like to A) hear what my voice sounds like or B) hear what my voice sounds like when talking about COMIC BOOKS, you should click here 

OK, I’ll shut up now. Here’s my project. I’m super proud of it. I love this major!


IOWA CITY, Iowa – For four weeks this fall, the University of Iowa’s main library held one of the most valuable books in the world – a copy of William Shakespeare’s First Folio.Along with a copy of the Folio on loan from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C, an exhibition titled “The Books That Made Shakespeare” included texts with which Shakespeare would have been familiar. The latter materials were from the university’s own special collections. To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death, the Folger organized a traveling exhibition in which all fifty states take turns hosting the book. Although the Folio is no longer at Iowa, “The Books That Made Shakespeare” will remain in the main library gallery until December 30.

Students, faculty and residents alike recounted their experiences with the First Folio.

Adam Hooks, an associate professor of English who also holds a joint appointment at the Center for the Book, curated the exhibition. His goal was to tell a different type of story about Shakespeare, one that focused on his influences as much as on his works.

Another goal was to use this opportunity to invite educators to learn new ways to teach Shakespeare in their classrooms. Hooks stated that, “We have led a number of guided tours that classes and other educational groups have booked, so they can still experience the exhibition based on our own collections in Iowa through the end of the year.”

He added, “We are going to document this exhibition and turn it into a digital project that we can continue to build on over the next few years. Making them available online and offering instructions on how these can be used in classes is something we’re very interested in doing. We’re also hoping to use this as a way to get people to explore their own local resources. Each community in Iowa has a different way of engaging with Shakespeare and this state has a long history of doing so – through education, through women’s Shakespeare clubs.”

Hooks views the the exhibition as a starting point, rather than as the ending point “We really see this entire semester as a step to build resources for the future, rather than as a celebration that ends when the clock turns over on midnight on January 1.”

Listen below to hear Adam Hooks discuss the significance of Shakespeare and the First Folio, as well as the rise of what he terms the “Shakespeare industry.” 

Professor Emerita Miriam Gilbert is not at all surprised that Iowa was chosen to host the exhibition. A member of the UI English department for over forty years, Gilbert continues to be involved with the department by giving tours of the exhibition to freshman rhetoric classes and working in conjunction with the Q Brothers to bring a hip-hop performance of Julius Caesar to campus. Gilbert said the choice of UI for the exhibition was obvious. “We’ve got a brand new exhibition space at the library [and also have] the Center for the Book, which specializes in book studies.”

She also cited Cornell College, Coe College, Riverside Theatre, and the public library as essential to hosting the exhibition: “We were able to bring together so different many parts of the academic community, indeed of Iowa City or, one might say, of this whole eastern Iowa community.”

She added that it probably helped that included in the proposal were thoughts about outreach to teachers.

Sophomore Shannon Nolan found the exhibition entirely by accident. She stumbled across it while looking for a snack. “It just kind of happened, but it was really cool seeing how those stories we saw in our textbooks were preserved through the years, especially [after] growing up in the public education system where Shakespeare is covered so much,” she said.

Nolan encouraged her fellow students to visit the exhibition. “When a little piece of history like that lands in Iowa, it’s important to seek it out.”

For other students, being able to read the books Shakespeare would have studied in his youth is a deeply personal experience. In addition to the classes required for her English major, sophomore Rose Deighton is taking a course in Latin. “All of a sudden I was able to read some of the same phrases that Shakespeare read,” she said, adding that the exhibition is a must-see for those majoring in History, English, or Classics. “Everyone looks at Shakespeare’s work but they don’t really think about who has influenced him.”

Naturally, the exhibition appeals to more than just UI students. Iowa City resident June Schindler heard about the exhibition on NPR and decided to visit along with her daughters. She said, “Living in Iowa, that’s not something you can easily see. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would recommend it to anyone who has any interest in the history of the Western world.” She thought the exhibition was nicely organized, with plenty of fascinating information – including the fact that only 300 years after the invention of the printing press, books were so common that they were used in schools such as the one Shakespeare attended as a boy.

Jason Fulmer, a junior at the University of Iowa, called the exhibition a different take on Shakespeare’s life than what is commonly seen. “I was bored between classes and had heard about [the exhibition] but wasn’t going to go because I’m not really into Shakespeare. But it was very respectful. It felt like they offered something that most people don’t talk about, that you couldn’t get from a class, that is more tangible.”

About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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1 Response to UI Main Library Hosts Exhibition Of Shakespeare’s First Folio

  1. This is such great writing! Go you! Thanks for sharing this; you obviously have a lot of talent (not that us readers didn’t already know that). You seem to be very versatile as a writer.

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