Folger Shakespeare Library exhibit features ECU connections

Irish mantle 1, resized

A replica of an Irish mantle, or cloak, created by East Carolina University School of Art and Design students in Robin Haller’s textile and design course is part of the exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Photo courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

By Alexa DeCarr, ECU News Services

An exhibit on display at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is showcasing the achievements of Dr. Thomas Herron, an associate professor of English at East Carolina University, students in ECU’s School of Art and Design and the University Multimedia Center.

The exhibit, which opened in January and runs through May 19, is named “Nobility and Newcomers in Renaissance Ireland” and focuses on the Irish upper class during the 16th to mid-17th century and its cultural exchanges with England. It investigates the political struggles of the period while acknowledging the ways in which English and Irish cultures influenced each other through achievements in literature, architecture and the arts.

“It goes beyond the black and white view of the interactions between the English and the Irish,” Herron said of the exhibit.

Students in ECU assistant professor Robin Haller’s textile and design course recreated a replica of an Irish mantle, which Herron said is a type of outer covering or cloak worn by the Irish. The University Multimedia Center also contributed to the exhibit by creating a 3-D computerized recreation of a tower house castle from the Middle Ages that allows viewers to get a virtual tour.

Herron said that a 16th century portrait of Queen Elizabeth I “discovered” in Manteo while hanging in plain sight during a conference organized by the ECU English Department is on display at the exhibit as well.

“ECU has been so generous and has played a major role in the exhibit,” Herron said. “Different departments within the university have gone out of their way to help with the exhibit.”

While the exhibit focuses on Europe during the Renaissance, Herron said modern Americans can still appreciate it.

“Shakespeare is a powerful influence on the U.S. and our culture,” he said. “And many Americans have Irish roots.”

The exhibit, “Nobility and Newcomers in Renaissance Ireland,” features portraits, manuscripts, artifacts, family records, and rare books drawn from collections in Ireland and the United States. The exhibition includes nearly 100 items from the Folger collection, as well as materials from the National Gallery of Ireland, the University of Wisconsin, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Library of Ireland, and private collections.

Brendan Kane, a historian of modern Ireland and an associate professor at the University of Connecticut, was the co-curator of the exhibit.

For more information on the exhibit, visit www.folger.edu/Ireland or contact Tom Herron at herront@ecu.edu.

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