Summer exhibits explore the magic of Harry Potter’s world, modern medicine, and Shakespeare

Posted on June 15, 2017 at 6:00 am

Illustration of an alchemy workshop Courtesy National Library of Medicine

This summer you can explore two exhibits that take a look at the history of science and medicine through the lens of literature: J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Shakespeare’s most beloved plays.

Harry Potter’s World letterhead with Owl

July 3–August 12

Although fantastical stories, the magic in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is partially based on Renaissance traditions that played an important role in the development of Western science, including alchemy, astrology, and natural philosophy. Incorporating the work of several 15th- and 16th-century thinkers, the series examines important ethical topics: the desire for knowledge, the effects of prejudice, and the responsibility that comes with power.

This exhibition explores Harry Potter’s world, its roots in Renaissance science, and the ethical questions that affected not only the wizards of Harry Potter but also the historical thinkers featured in the series.

This exhibition is brought to you by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Magical Trivia Night
18 & over
Friday, Aug 11, 6–8pm

Happy Birthday, Harry!
For all ages
Monday Jul 31, 6–8pm

Tuesday, Aug 1, 6–8pm

July 3–August 12

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) created characters that are among the most complex and most humanly recognizable in all of literature. Yet Shakespeare understood human personality in the terms available to his era—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. 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. This exhibit explores the role played by the four humors in several of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays and examines more modern interpretations of the four humors in contemporary medicine.

This exhibition was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

What is your Shakespeare humor?
Thursday–Saturday, July 6–8, 10am–6pm

Hot Pepper Shakespeare Recitations
THE MASON JAR, 101 F St, Cheney
Saturday, Jul 22, 2–3pm

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