Shakespeare Exhibit Comes to Medical Sciences Library

Marketing and Communications | October 29, 2012

The National Library of Medicine’s traveling exhibit, “And there’s the humor of it”-- Shakespeare and the four humors, is on display at Texas A&M University’s Medical Sciences Library (MSL) Oct. 22-Dec. 1 in the newly renovated exhibit lobby. Organized around the four elements of earth, water, air, and fire; the four qualities of cold, hot, moist, and dry; and the four humors, these physical qualities determined the behavior of all created things including the human body. The now discarded theory of the four bodily humors—blood, bile, melancholy, and phlegm pervades the plays of William Shakespeare (1564-1616).

Dr. Nancy Warren, head of the Department of English, will speak on "The Humors and the Humanities: Shakespeare, Medicine, and the Intersection of Science and Art" during the exhibit opening and reception at 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12. Warren is the author of The Embodied Word: Female Spiritualities, Contested Orthodoxies, and English Religious Cultures, 1350-1700 published by the University of Notre Dame Press. She has written extensively on female spirituality in the Early Modern Period. The exhibit explores the role of the four humors in several of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays through imagery and rare books from both the National Library of Medicine and the Folger Shakespeare Library. It also examines more modern interpretations of the four humors in contemporary medicine. Plays featured in the exhibit include, “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Hamlet,” and “Merchant of Venice.”

“We’re thrilled to host this unique traveling exhibit in our newly renovated lobby. It focuses on the human body and personality, as understood and depicted by Shakespeare and his contemporaries in their literary works. Scientists and literary scholars alike will appreciate this fascinating exhibit,” explained Esther Carrigan, associate dean and director of the Medical Sciences Library.

The campus and local community are invited to the opening and to view the exhibit while it is on display.