First Folio exhibition comes to the UI

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Beginning Aug. 29, University of Iowa Libraries will present the Shakespeare at Iowa celebration across the state to help Iowans remember the Bard on the 400th anniversary of his death.

The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, will tour the First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare exhibit in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. In Iowa, the exhibit will be in the UI Main Library Gallery where the First Folio will be on display free of charge from Aug. 29 through Sept. 25.

Click here to learn more about the First Folio's time at UI Libraries.

The First Folio, printed in 1623, was the first collection of Shakespeare's plays, 18 of which were printed for the first time, including Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and The Tempest. The Folger Library, located on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., is home to the world's largest collection of First Folios, with 82 in its possession.

In addition to the exhibit at the UI, the Shakespeare at Iowa celebration, organized by staff at UI Libraries, will feature events that will offer Iowans of all ages creative ways to interact with Shakespeare's work.

"The exhibit goes beyond the folio itself," says Christine Kolarik, program coordinator for the School of Library and Information Science and coordinator of statewide programming. "It will be supported with other artifacts that will give context to the First Folio and help people understand that time period." 

video contest hosted by the UI School of Library and Information Science will prompt students to re-enact a scene from one of Shakespeare's plays or create an original piece related to his work, life, or legacy. The contest is open to all K–12 students in Iowa, and the winning video entry will earn $2,000 for their school's library.

"This video contest is focusing on engaging younger students," says Kolarik. "We hope that it will get them excited about (Shakespeare's) work."

An online survey asks Iowans to vote for their favorite Shakespeare play. A scene from the winning play will be performed at a public reading on Sept. 24 at the Riverside Festival Stage in Iowa City's City Park. 

"It's a unique opportunity to see a very special artifact that most of us would otherwise never have the chance to see."

UI Libraries worked with three colleges and five community organizations across the state to make the programming possible, and staff at UI Libraries created display kits that were sent to the more than 600 public libraries in Iowa.

Adam Hooks, a professor in the Department of English and the Center for the Book, is teaching several classes on Shakespeare this fall and says he will encourage students to attend events related to the material they are learning.

He plans to teach Julius Caesar in two of his classes and says he will recommend students see a musical, Hip-Hop Julius Caesar, that will debut Sept. 29 at Hancher Auditorium. The musical is being adapted by the Q Brothers, known for adapting other classic texts, such as Othello and A Christmas Carol, who will collaborate with UI students to remix Shakespeare's classic tragedy into a modern hip-hop musical.

Hooks designed and will lead two statewide workshops, one for college faculty and the other for junior high and high school faculty, to benefit instructors who teach Shakespeare.

The first event, Hawkeye Shakespeare: Teaching Shakespeare in Iowa, will be a collegiate academic conference that seeks to connect educators and share academic strategies. Faculty and graduate students from all educational institutions in Iowa are invited to attend the event, which includes a pedagogical presentation, four workshops, and a collaborative work session from which course plans and teaching materials will be crafted.

Hooks also will lead a two-day workshop for middle school and high school teachers focused on building assignments, crafting lesson plans, and finding digital tools to help students engage with the material.

Throughout the fall, the events in the statewide celebration of Shakespeare will range from the theatrical to the academic and will offer something for Iowans of all ages.

"It's a unique opportunity to see a very special artifact that most of us would otherwise never have the chance to see," says Kolarik. "But I also think it provides the university an opportunity to reach out across the state, engage with younger students, and make people aware of the sort of educational resources that are available here." 

Hooks, who curated the exhibit at the UI, says that the First Folio exhibition is a once-in-a-lifetime event. 

"It's a great opportunity for not just the students and community here, but the whole state," he says. 

Click here for the full list of events.