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Shakespeare conference kicks off with visit from Oxford professor

If you want to strike terror into the heart of any actor or English teacher, just ask them these questions: “What would the literary tradition be like without the First Folio? What would our knowledge and understanding of Shakespeare be like if that book had not been published?”

The questions come from University at Buffalo associate English professor Barbara Bono, the lead organizer of the UB Humanities Institute’s yearlong project “Buffalo Bard 2016, 400 Years Since Shakespeare.” A central part of that project, a conference on Shakespeare and Cervantes, opens March 28 with a pair of talks by Oxford University professor Emma Smith in the Central Library (1 Lafayette Square) at noon and in Capen Hall room 107 on the UB Amherst campus at 3:30 p.m.

Smith’s talk will touch on the importance and influence of Shakespeare’s First Folio. Rare copies of the first published compendium of Shakespeare’s plays exist in the collections of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library and the University at Buffalo Libraries.

The conference, which will feature visits from 13 noted Shakespeare experts, coincides with the Folger Library’s national tour that will bring copies of the First Folio to communities in all 50 states. Bono said that the UB Humanities Institute project was designed to capitalize on that tour and to emphasize the city’s importance in the world of Shakespearean studies.

“I saw this as an opportunity to showcase some of the riches in Buffalo at a moment of renaissance for the city,” she said. “It’s a chance to talk about our treasures.”

A full schedule for the yearlong project is online at

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