Inventing Shakespeare considers the technologies, devices, and tools prompted by research into the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays. Called “the most thoroughly studied early modern book,” the Folio has inspired a sweeping and multidisciplinary scholarly toolkit, including Charlton Hinman’s optical-mechanical collating machine (described in a short essay on the overleaf), photographic and digital facsimiles, and ongoing experiments at CMU in the analysis of early printed books using computer vision and machine learning. Inventing Shakespeare explores the untold story of the Folio’s technological afterlives, reflecting CMU’s culture of innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and technological inventiveness.
A 360 Virtual Tour allows remote visitors to take a self-guided tour.
|Duration||March 6, 2023 08:00 - May 16, 2023 23:30|
This projection superimposes a distinctively damaged L and Y that appear in the word HOLY on the title page of Poole’s Annotations over a matching L and Y that appear in the word PLAYS on the title page of the Fourth Folio. Idiosyncrasies shared by these letters — a distinctive break in the L’s leg and fractures in the Y’s arms — show that they originated in the same print shop, that of Robert Roberts.
This short video animates the stereoptical effect of the Hinman Collator. It shows a passage in Act Four of Othello in two different printings. In the later printing, “set sining” is revised to “sat singing” in the first line. In fact, both readings are wrong: the line should read, “The poore Soule sat sighing, by a Sicamour tree,” as is clear from the context of Desdemona's lament. Detecting variants like this one allows scholars to judge which printing of a particular line is most accurate or most likely represents what Shakespeare wrote.
The video also shows two variant states of the engraved portrait of Shakespeare that appears on or facing the title page of all four Shakespeare Folios. The engraved copperplate from which the portrait was printed was modified to lend Shakespeare’s face more depth and realism. In the later state, Shakespeare’s eyebrows and beard are darker and more pronounced.