UNL professor curates 'dreamy' exhibition at Folger Shakespeare Library

Released on 02/16/2009, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009, through May. 30, 2009

WHERE: Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 E. Capitol St. SE, Washington, D.C.

Lincoln, Neb., February 16th, 2009 —

Carole Levin, Willa Cather professor of history at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has curated a new exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. "To Sleep, Perchance to Dream" will run Feb. 19 through May 30.

Levin, who is also director of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies program at UNL, recently completed research on dreams in early modern England as a 2006-07 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Dreams and their meanings carried a special fascination in Elizabethan England, a time when many believed that dreams had the power to foretell the future, expose guilty deeds or thoughts, or even reveal messages from the divine. "To Sleep, Perchance to Dream" explores the nighttime activities of Shakespeare's day and their role in popular culture.

"Elizabethans believed intensely in the power of their dreams," Levin said. "On several occasions, Elizabeth I mentioned to those at court dreams that she had had. A number of English people also had upsetting dreams about their queen they interpreted as warnings, and wrote to her principal secretary to let him know the queen needed to be careful."

"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream" features nearly 100 books and illustrations from the Folger collection, as well as objects connected with sleeping and dreaming in Elizabethan England. Highlights include:

* An interactive "Dream Machine" that allows visitors to deconstruct their own dreams using a special touchscreen display and interpretations drawn from period dream manuals.

* Recipes for sleep remedies. Women of this period often compiled recipes to ease sleeplessness; a collection by Mary Granville and her daughter Anne advises applying a mixture of strained ivy leaves and white wine vinegar to the temples.

* Elizabethan nightwear. Full-size replicas of bedroom attire for men and women, created especially for this exhibition, will be on display.

* Dreams on stage. Dreams play prominent roles in Shakespearean drama, from "Romeo and Juliet" to "Macbeth" to "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Photographs from contemporary productions of these plays accompany the exhibition.

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