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And There's the Humor of it: Shakespeare and the Four Humors

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The “And there’s the humor of it” Shakespeare and the four humors online exhibition includes instructional resources for educators in K-12 as well as in higher education institutions. The following educational resources provide examples of how the rich content and primary sources in the exhibition can be used in a classroom. They are developed as suggestions that an educator may adapt in whole or in parts, as she or he deems most appropriate for the students’ interest and academic goals.

Lesson Plans

The Four Humors: from Hippocrates to Shakespeare and The Melancholy Dane are lesson plans prepared for middle and high school classes, respectively. Each lesson plan contains background information, relevant academic topics, national standards, learning outcomes, step-by-step procedures, and all instructional materials that include several historical primary sources.

The lesson plans have been developed in collaboration with Sahar Siddiqui, former English teacher, and Janet Collier at the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital (Washington, D.C.).

Higher Education Module

The Changing Explanations in Mind-Body Medicine module provides teachers and students with the opportunity to discuss the implications of the exhibition, “And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the four Humors, for our understanding of how practicing physicians and medical scientists have, over a considerable period of time, typically explained disease and the factors which cause it. Looking selectively at Western medicine over its long history and in the most basic terms, it focuses on the recurrent ways in which biological (body-based) and psychological (mind- or emotion-based) explanations have been used to account for diseases of both the body and mind, and it challenges the common assumption that biological explanations are always better.

This module is authored by Ted Brown, Ph.D., Professor of History and of Community and Preventive Medicine and Medical Humanities at the University of Rochester.

Humoral Mosaic Explore the humors of some Shakespeare’s characters, such as Ophilia, Kathrina, and Shylock. Consider your own humor(s) and add your own to the online humoral mosaic being shaped by our visitors.

Additional Resources

Gail Paster, Ph.D., the exhibition curator provides a bibliography of several additional readings, while Anne Ledford, a School Library Media Specialist at Stuart-Hobson Middle School (Washington, D.C.), has put together various online and printed resources for young students, their teachers, and general public. These resources serve as a starting place for those who are interested in further exploration of the exhibition topics.