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26 March 2015 @ 06:34 pm
2016 Folger Shakespeare Library exhibit on Austen and Shakespeare  
How did I miss this announcement before now? I mean, this is basically the tutorial I taught a few years ago, even down to the "Will and Jane" title!


Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity

Will & Jane, one of the Exhibitions at the Folger is co-curated by Austen scholar Janine Barchas (University of Texas at Austin) and theater historian Kristina Straub (Carnegie Mellon University).

The upcoming Will & Jane exhibit explores the parallel afterlives of arguably the two most popular writers in the English language. As household names and literary celebrities, both Shakespeare and Austen are on a “first-name basis” with the reading public.

Since the year 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, just as 2017 will mark the bicentenary of the death of Austen, this exhibit is an opportunity to consider the rise of literary celebrity in terms of 200-year cycles. Does today’s Cult of Jane resemble the first exuberant wave of Bardolatry witnessed in the Georgic period?

The exhibit will zoom in on how Shakespeare was celebrated 200 years ago in order to compare public spectacles like Garrick’s Jubilee and Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery to today’s media celebrations such as BBC “bonnet dramas” made from Austen’s works. The aggressive merchandizing of Shakespeare begun in the eighteenth century also closely resembles the marketing of Austen memorabilia today.