Balancing the body and consulting the heavens: Medicine in Shakespeare’s time

Few Elizabethans were wealthy enough to afford a licensed physician. Instead, they would rely on the knowledge of a local “wise woman,” with her home collection of remedy recipes and medicines. Or, they would send a description of their symptoms (along with a urine sample) to an “empiric,” who might cast an astrological horoscope. Broken bone? Call the barber-surgeon!… Continue Reading »


“You had more beard when I last saw you”: a set of Shakespearean shaving papers

Two Folger exhibitions in this anniversary year have explored Shakespeare’s far-reaching effect on consumer culture: first, America’s Shakespeare considered how the United States has made the Bard our own, and now Will & Jane examines the celebrity status of literary superstars William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. This month’s Folger Find is another example of how deeply Shakespeare… Continue Reading »


Comic book casts Shakespeare’s First Folio in a horror story

Cue the scary music! A new comic book injects a little horror and occult magic into the story of the First Folio, in an effort to make Shakespeare more accessible to a younger generation. 13th Night was written to accompany the First Folio’s visit to the University of Colorado Boulder as part of the Folger’s… Continue Reading »


Jane Austen’s Shakespeare

Jane Austen, who was born in 1775, came of age in the 1790s and started publishing in the 1810s; her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, came out in 1811. She died in 1817, which makes 2017 the 200th anniversary of her death. The Folger exhibition Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity… Continue Reading »


The Cotswold Olympicks

  The Ancient Greeks may hold the franchise on Olympic wrestling—but how would they have fared against a 17th-century British shin-kicker? In 1612 in the tiny village of Chipping Campden, Robert Dover opened the first Cotswold Olympicks, ushering in a new sporting tradition that revived the Olympic spirit and laid the foundation for the modern… Continue Reading »


Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’: Perpetuating stereotypes or sparking much-needed conversations?

Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice ends badly for Shylock, with the court ruling against him and his claim on Antonio’s “pound of flesh.” He loses half his property to Antonio and agrees to convert to Christianity to avoid losing the other half to the state. The play may be a comedy, but there’s nothing funny about Shylock’s… Continue Reading »


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