Event—Public Programming

Shakespeare in Type: Wing Foundation Lecture on the History of the Book

In this free public lecture, Claire Bourne illuminates how typographic decision-making—from typefaces to page design—has shaped how we read and engage with Shakespeare.


This program will be held in person at the Newberry. Please register for free in advance here. Learn about our COVID-19 safety policies.

Many of us first encountered Shakespeare’s plays as text before experiencing them as theater. Shakespeare is textual. He’s also typographic. In this free public lecture, Claire Bourne illuminates how typographic decision-making—from typefaces to page design—has shaped how we read and engage with Shakespeare.

The print publication of Shakespeare’s drama, including single-play quartos printed during his lifetime and the now-iconic folio collection of plays published seven years posthumously, is credited with transforming Shakespeare from a successful playwright in his own time into an author “for all time.” The proliferation of Shakespeare editions from the seventeenth century onwards testifies to the staying power of Shakespearean drama as reading material.

The earliest texts by which we know Shakespeare’s theatrical craft are defined by the page-design decisions, print-shop practices, and type-setting conventions behind their making. This lecture weaves together stories of typographic innovation and improvisation. These stories include the first attempts at mediating Shakespeare’s plays via moveable type technology as well as efforts to establish authoritative editions of those same texts via typographic experimentation from the eighteenth century onwards.

With a focus on the uses specific typefaces and their fonts in this editorial tradition, these stories will illuminate the formative role of typographic decision-making and effect in the production and reception of Shakespeare’s dramatic writing.

Claire M. L. Bourne is Assistant Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University. She is author of Typographies of Performance in Early Modern England and editor of the essay collection Shakespeare/Text.

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COVID-19 Safety Policies

This is an in-person event at the Newberry. We continue to require that all visitors wear masks and be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (The CDC’s definition of full vaccination can be found here.)

You may be asked to show proof of vaccination before the program begins. Proof of vaccination can include a physical vaccine card, a photocopy of the card, a digital record or app on your phone, or a printed record from a vaccine provider. A valid photo ID is required as well.

Thank you for your understanding as we take measures to ensure a safe learning environment for our visitors, volunteers, and staff.

In addition, we are limiting capacity to ensure social distancing is possible. If you feel sick on the day of the event, or have been in contact with someone who is sick, please stay home and visit us another time.

In compliance with an emergency travel order issued by the Chicago Department of Public Health, some visitors arriving from outside Illinois must take certain safety measures before visiting the Newberry.

Learn more about the Newberry’s visitor policy.

We are closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19 in Chicago and will move this program online if recommendations from public health officials change.