Celebrating Shakespeare at OU

PaintingOn this day set aside to recognize the birth of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), we have much to celebrate on the OU campus relating to Shakespeare and his times.

In February we learned that the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History was selected as the Oklahoma site for the traveling exhibition First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare.

Today, it was announced that the First Folio will be on display at the Sam Noble Museum in early 2016.

ShakTP copy

The First Folio is the first printed collection of Shakespeare’s plays (published in 1623). The copy that will be on display in Oklahoma is one of only 233 surviving copies of this significant work. The traveling exhibit program is the result of a partnership between the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and the American Library Association.

The nationwide tour of copies of the First Folio commemorates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. For the OU campus, it comes at a propitious time: throughout 2015 and 2016 we will be immersed in the world of the 16th and 17th centuries, through engagement with exhibits and programs for Galileo’s World.

Pictured here is OU’s copy of the Second Folio, published in 1632. It is one of the many treasures held in the John and Mary Nichols Rare Books and Special Collections, and will be on display in Galileo’s World.


Shakespeare and OU’s Special Collections

While 2016 is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, it was just last year – 2014 -that we recognized the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.  We did this with a display of books from the History of Science Collections and the John and Mary Nichols Collection.

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Click here to download a copy of the exhibit brochure, with pages rotated 180 degrees for more convenient printing on some printers.  Also, see the exhibit page.

Shakespeare at OU

Beyond books, other commemorations of Shakespeare can be found in and around Bizzell Library. This includes the portrait shown above (outside the Great Reading Room), and the bench on the east side of the building.


And of course, numerous OU Faculty across campus are engaged in the study of Shakespeare and/or his times, not only from the Department of English, but also from Classics and Letters, History, History of Science, and Modern Languages.  A gathering point for many of these scholars is the Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies. Faculty across campus and across the disciplines are associated with the Center.

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“The Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies at the University of Oklahoma promotes the study of the period in Western history that saw the development of such major components of modern life as parliamentary democracy, the nation-state, English and other modern languages, printing, Islam, global exploration, heliocentric astronomy, romantic love–and the universities in which we research and teach all these subjects. Some thirty-five faculty at OU contribute to the study of these and many other facets of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.”

Doing Research with Books from OU’s 5th-Floor Special Collections 

While tours and class visits are not possible as we undergo renovation on the 5th floor of Bizzell Library in preparation for the Galileo’s World Exhibit (scheduled for the 2015-16 academic year), researchers continue to have individual access to our books and materials from our four special collection libraries: Bass, Bizzell Bible, History of Science, and John and Mary Nichols. For a glimpse into the books in these collections, see these guides to past exhibits: Crossing Cultures, Living Library (iBooks exhibit) and our online galleries. Use Discover Local, the online catalog, to search for items in the collections.

For information on our public reading room services, see 4th Floor Reading Room page and Reading Room Handout. See the Collections blog for more information on resources, activities, and events relating to OU’s 5th floor special collection libraries.

Please contact the staff for assistance (405) 325-2741. Or contact us:

About ouhos

Kristina Southwell, Head of Operations; Kerry Magruder, Curator; and JoAnn Palmeri, Librarian
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