Monday, August 29, 2016

The University of Iowa Libraries has launched Shakespeare at Iowa, a special exhibition of Shakespeare’s First Folio and a statewide celebration to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

The First Folio, printed in 1623, is a rare volume containing a collection of Shakespeare’s plays, including many that would have been otherwise lost. UI Libraries will host the only stop in the state for First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, a national traveling exhibition of the Shakespeare First Folio from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

Click here to learn more about how the First Folio tour will impact the state of Iowa.

The First Folio will be on display from Aug. 29 to Sept. 25 at the UI Main Library Gallery. Both First Folio and related exhibitions are free and open to the public.

“The UI Libraries is honored to host the First Folio for Iowa and especially for our UI students, who come from all parts of the state,” says John Culshaw, university librarian. “We hope you’ll visit the UI Libraries to see the First Folio and related exhibits, as well as participate in the many scheduled events.”

Through a grant from the Folger Shakespeare Library, Adam Hooks, associate professor of English at the UI, will offer workshops helping junior high and high school teachers teach Shakespeare to their students, as well as a weekend symposium for higher education faculty across the state.

Appearing with the First Folio will be The Books That Made Shakespeare, an exhibition curated by Hooks. This exhibition will be on display in the Main Library Gallery and online with photos, videos, and essays from Aug. 29 to Dec. 30. Featuring items from UI Libraries’ collections and rare books on loan from law professor and bibliophile Arthur E. Bonfield, Hooks’ exhibition provides historical context by showing how book culture during the Renaissance helped bring Shakespeare to fame.

For the exhibition, Hooks drew ideas from his own curriculum, which, in part, helps students understand Shakespeare by explaining Shakespeare’s world. Hooks teaches students to conduct research using primary sources—original materials from Shakespeare’s time that can reveal details about the book trade of that era.

Hooks brings students to the UI Libraries’ Special Collections, which holds rare items and primary source materials. Here, students can pore over materials, turn pages with their own hands, and examine every aspect of the text.

“Iowa's participation in the global celebration of Shakespeare gives our students the chance to make new discoveries and to make those discoveries visible to the state of Iowa," Hooks says.

Greg Prickman, head of Special Collections at the UI, agrees.

“This demonstrates how rare books contribute to the student experience at Iowa,” he says. “The libraries’ new gallery and its ongoing efforts to digitize collections allow us to bring these items to a larger audience.”

The UI Libraries Special Collections also will host Shakespeare ReDesigned, an exhibition featuring works of book art inspired by Shakespeare’s writings that will be on display Aug. 25 through Dec. 1 on the third floor of Main Library.

“These examples of fine press and artists’ books will give visitors a taste of how printers and book artists have reinterpreted Shakespeare through elements of typography, format, binding, and more,” says Margaret Gamm, UI Libraries staff member and curator of Shakespeare ReDesigned. The exhibit highlights the recent work of Emily Martin, Iowa book artist and UI Center for the Book adjunct assistant professor.

UI Libraries partnered with nine campus departments, five organizations in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines and three area colleges to present events, lectures, and performances.

"Shakespeare at Iowa offers unprecedented opportunities for our students to learn about and engage with Shakespeare within and beyond the classroom,” says Hooks. “The humanities are one of the core strengths of the University of Iowa, and we can offer our students resources and experiences that are not available anywhere else.”

For a complete list of events, full exhibition text, online essays, videos, and materials for school and public libraries, visit

For more about the tour, visit