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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: September ::
The Reader Revealed: A Folger Shakespeare Library
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2187  Monday, 17 September 2001

From:           Eric Luhrs <
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Date:           Saturday, 15 Sep 2001 14:37:22 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        The Reader Revealed: A Folger Shakespeare Library Exhibition

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

This announcement was sent to SHARP-L, but I'm sure that our members
will be interested as well.

  Eric Luhrs

--

THE READER REVEALED
SEPTEMBER 12, 2001 - JANUARY 19, 2002

New Folger Exhibition Highlights Renaissance Reading Habits

Washington, DC - Early readers left tantalizing clues about themselves
and what they were reading-signatures on title pages, presentation
inscriptions, notes in margins, and passages copied out into manuscript
commonplace books. Drawing primarily from its own collection of
books-both manuscript and printed- broadsides and engravings, the
Folger's new exhibition, The Reader Revealed, examines how and what
people read, publicly and privately, in 16th and 17th century Europe.

"Books hold a special place in human experience," explains Sabrina
Alcorn Baron, Visiting Assistant Professor of History at the University
of Maryland, Baltimore County and the exhibition's curator, with
Elizabeth Walsh and Susan Scola.  "This exhibition explores that
privileged relationship."

Through Gutenberg's innovations in printing, reading-once the preserve
of a small educated elite-opened up to include kings and tradesmen,
saints and sinners, celebrities and nonentities in the Renaissance.
They read to learn and improve skills; to attain moral enrichment and
for spiritual contemplation; and for the sheer joy and pleasure of
reading.

From highly decorated "icon" books to cheap, well-thumbed "chap books"
of the late 17th century-which were carried in pockets until many
disintegrated-the exhibition shows the variety of ways in which readers
have related to books over the centuries.  The use of books as
repositories of birth records, scholarly marginalia, and schoolboy
doodles is also examined.

Visitors may be surprised to learn that many people in the early modern
period, especially women, could read but not write; that the phrase "red
letter days" has a literal derivation; and that certain censorship
strictures once applied to reading aloud-but not silently.

Perhaps most surprising to the modern reader, though, may be how little
has changed.  Children still use pictures to learn the alphabet ("A is
for Apple"), publishers still use prefaces to tout a book's contents,
and people still misplace their reading glasses (check out one reader's
ingenious solution involving a hollowed out binding).

 "Early modern readers reveal themselves to us through their books,"
explains Rachel Doggett, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Books and
Exhibitions.  "Exquisite decoration and extensive annotation are some of
the evidence we have that these books were well-used and well-loved.
Every book in the Folger collection is unique.  Every one has passed
through different hands and has accumulated its own particular history,
and many preserve evidence of their earliest readers and their social
and intellectual worlds. In this exhibition, those readers are vividly
revealed to us."

Lenders to the exhibition include Peter W.M. Blayney, Catholic
University of America Library, Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth,
Massachusetts, and Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota.

This exhibition has been funded, in part, the Winton and Carolyn Blount
Exhibition Fund.

Media Previews
The exhibition will be available for preview by members of the media
Tuesday, September 4 through Tuesday, September 11, 10 am - 4 pm.  A
special guided tour led by the exhibition's curator will be Wednesday,
September 5, 11 am.  For more information, please call (202) 675-0342.

Special Programs
On Wednesday, October 17, at 5:30 pm, Washington Post Book World Senior
Editor and author himself of Readings:  Essays & Literary Entertainments
Michael Dirda hosts a "Gathering of Friends" conversation on the joys of
reading for contemporary booklovers followed by a reception and special
exhibition viewing. Tickets $25 members,  $30 non-members.  To reserve,
call the Folger membership office at (202) 675 - 0359.

Catalog
The exhibition catalog is available for purchase at the Folger Museum
Shop or online at www.shakespeare-etc.org.

Children's Guide
Developed by the Folger Docents, Children's Guides to the exhibition are
available.  The Guide includes a scavenger hunt using the exhibition and
fun facts and figures for the young museumgoer.

Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol Street, SE, one block from
the Capitol.  Open Monday through Saturday, 10 am - 4 pm. Closed Sundays
and federal holidays. Admission is free.

Guided tours:  11 a.m. weekdays and at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

To learn more about the Folger and its cultural programs, call (202)
544-7077 or visit www.folger.edu.

For media requests and photos, contact Garland Scott at (202) 675-0342
or 
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