We are excited to announce this summer’s rare-book exhibit, “Austen and Shakespeare: Contexts and Collections.” Inspired by themes in Austen's and Shakespeare's works, the exhibit will reflect the texts attendees have read to prepare for JASP. Exhibit organizers Celeste Seifert, Jared Powell, and Kristian Shane have been working hard at the Wilson library sorting through historical texts to display.
Celeste Seifert (left) and Jared Powell (right) working at the Wilson library. (Photos courtesy of Jared Powell)
Attendees will see a variety of rare texts from the Wilson Library collection and learn about Jane Austen and Shakespeare’s lives. “The exhibit is partially a show of the wealth and history and texts available at the Wilson. It’s also to learn more about the cultural and literary influences of Austen and Shakespeare that may not be well known,” Seifert says.
Seifert’s academic research in 19th-century literature has influenced the creation of the exhibit. “Austen is so influential to the construction of the novel and in 'Mansfield Park,' there is so much subtext on how wealth for England was made due to slave labor,” says Seifert. “Also, as an assistant for the William Blake Archive, I was very interested in Blake’s prints in John Stedman’s 'Narrative.'” She believes that visuals offer as much context as words for understanding the past.
As a scholar of William Blake, Powell was also excited to see Blake's illustrations to Stedman. He adds that Shane's extensive knowledge of Shakespeare helped pull the exhibit together, "Since this is the first time we're focusing on another author in addition to Austen, Khristian's expertise on Shakespeare and early-modern England proved invaluable," Powell says.
There’s a lot to look forward to at this year’s exhibit, and Seifert is especially excited for an illustration from George Cruikshank of “The Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder.” And according to Seifert, a must-see item is the early editions of this year’s primary texts.
EXHIBIT INFO: "Austen and Shakespeare: Contexts and Collections" is Thursday, June 16, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Louis Round Wilson Library on the UNC campus.
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