The Mendota Seminar, the Works of Shakespeare, and Special Collections

June 20, 2014

We are delighted to welcome to Special Collections one session of this summer’s Mendota Seminar and to continue our collaboration with Prof. Josh Calhoun of the Department of English, who has made much use of our holdings in his teaching and has encouraged his students to dig deeper into aspects of print culture in Shakespeare’s time (and beyond).

The Mendota Seminar session will showcase some of our holdings of Shakespeare’s works and underscore opportunities for undergraduate and graduate teaching using rare books and manuscripts. Watch this space for details about the books Prof. Calhoun’s students will be describing to seminar participants.

We also call to your attention Dennis Chaptman’s University of Wisconsin-Madison news item “Rare texts, technology tell Shakespeare’s story in seminar” and Tom Ziemer’s piece (on the website of the College of Letters and Science at UW-Madison) about Prof. Calhoun and the continuing relevance of Shakespeare’s “rich tapestry.”

On Saturday Mendota Seminar participants will see, among other examples of Shakespeare’s “enduring legacy,” our copy of the Second Folio.

title page of Shakespeare's Second Folio

This wonderful volume, the very generous gift of Ann Nelson, was profiled in the magazine of the Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries (pp.  8-9) in 1997. Ann Nelson made the gift to Special Collections in memory of her late husband, Prof. Harold “Bud” Nelson, who was director of the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 1966 to 1975 and was a member of its faculty for 26 years. Ann Nelson served as president of the board of the Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries in 2001-2002.

The volume, which features a binding by the firm Riviere & Son of London,

detail from inside front cover of Shakespeare's Second Folio, showing "Bound by Riviere & Sons"

was once owned by John Horne Tooke (1736–1812), described by Michael T. Davis in the Oxford dictionary of national biography as a “radical and philologist,” who devoted “much attention to the etymologies of words and grammatical standards concerning prepositions and conjunctions.” We see evidence of this fine attention to detail in Tooke’s annotations in our copy of the Second Folio.

John Horne Tooke's annotations on "The Tragedie of Troylus and Cressida" (sic) from Shakespeare's Second Folio