“And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the four humors is a traveling exhibition developed and produced by the Exhibition Program at the National Library of Medicine and the Folger Shakespeare Library.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) created characters that are among the richest and most humanly recognizable in all of literature. Yet Shakespeare understood human personality in the terms available to his age—that of the now-discarded theory of the four bodily humors –blood, bile, melancholy, and phlegm. These four humors were understood to define peoples’ physical and mental health, and determined their personality, as well.
The language of the four humors pervades Shakespeare's plays and their influence is felt above all in a belief that emotional states are physically determined. Carried by the bloodstream, the four humors bred the core passions of anger, grief, hope and fear—the emotions conveyed so powerfully in Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies. Curator Gail Kern Paster explains The four humors were an early typology for human personality. Shakespeare uses them, even as he transcends them, to create the vivid characters whose emotions continue to fascinate and delight us.
“And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the four humors explores the role played by the four humors in several of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays through beautiful imagery and rare books from both the National Library of Medicine and the Folger Shakespeare Library, and examines more modern interpretations of the four humors in contemporary medicine.
“And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the four humors will be on display at The Texas Medical Center Library from February 11 – March 23, 2013.
This exhibition was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health and the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Curated by Gail Kern Paster, PhD and Theodore Brown, PhD
Exhibition website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/shakespeare/index.html
The traveling exhibition consists of six panels that examine the intersection of medical theory and literature of the four humors. These four bodily humors—blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm—were understood by Shakespeare, and generations before him, to define people’s physical and mental health, and to determine individual’s personality, as well. See this exhibition to learn more about the language of the four humors and their influence in Shakespeare’s plays.
Different links form the exhibit page.
The Four Bodily Humors: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/shakespeare/fourhumors.html
Educational Resources: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/shakespeare/education/index.html
The musical ensemble The Shepherd School Crumhorn Collective, will perform medieval music at The TMC Library on March 20, 2013 from noon – 1:00 pm. Everyone is invited to this free event.
The Shepherd School Crumhorn Collective website: http://arslyricahouston.org/young_artists.htm
Musical performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5x-WsVzL1U