Shakespeare and the Four Humors: Exhibit opens Wednesday in the Briscoe Library

Sanguine

This image of the sanguine personality type was created by Henry Peacham in 1612. In Shakespeare’s day, sanguine personality was believed to be associated with the predominance of blood in relation to the three other bodily humors– yellow bile or choler, black bile or melancholer, and phlegm. Image courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Dr. Mark Bayer, guest speaker

February 13, 6:00 p.m.

Howe Conference Room, Briscoe Library

William Shakespeare’s (1564–1616) characters are timeless, yet he described human personality in the language of his age.  The theory of  the four bodily humors—blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm–  extends across Shakespeare‘s works, and is connected with the belief that emotional states have physical causes.  In Elizabethan England the four bodily humors were thought to engender the passions of anger, grief, hope, and fear— emotions that drive much of the action in Shakespeare‘s plays.

There’s the Humor of It: Shakespeare and the Four Humors is a  traveling exhibit produced by the National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health and the Folger Shakespeare Library to explore the inner logic of humoral theory as well as its connections to modern medical thought and practices.

The exhibit will open in the Briscoe Library at 6:00 p.m. on the evening of February 13 with a guest presentation by Dr. Mark Bayer, a member of the faculty in the Department of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio.  Dr. Bayer will speak on the topic, Why the Four Humours Make Sense: Shakespeare and the Four Humours.

The exhibit will remain on display through March 22.

In another event planned in conjunction with the exhibit,  Dr. Charleen Moore of the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology will speak on the topic,  A Balancing Act: Medical Practices and the Four Humors in the Renaissance. Her presentation will take place at noon on Wednesday, February 27th.

Both presentations are programs of the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, and will take place in the Howe Conference Room on the 5th floor of the Briscoe Library.

 

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