In honor of the 350th anniversary of Jonathan Swift’s birth, the Penn Libraries is hosting an exhibition and academic conference exploring his legacy as a traveler both in his imagination and in real life. The events are a marvelous opportunity to showcase the Swift-related collections held by the Penn Libraries’ Kislak Center, including the Teerink Collection (early editions of Swift’s works), the Denison Collection (illustrated editions of Gulliver’s Travels), and a collection of books known to have been read by Swift or been part of his library, given by Swift scholar Archibald C. Elias, Jr.
The exhibit, “A Raging Wit: The Life and Legacy of Jonathan Swift,” is open to the public in the Goldstein Family Gallery on the sixth floor of Van Pelt Dietrich Library through May 16, 2018. In creating this exhibition, curator Lynne Farrington sought not to limit herself to the works everyone knows—Gulliver’s Travels, A Tale of a Tub, and A Modest Proposal—but to delve deeply into his life and his legacy, and to explore the breadth and depth of his writings. Farrington states, “It has been an honor and a challenge to curate this exhibition—the honor of spending time with Penn’s great collections of the works of Jonathan Swift and the challenge of limiting myself to what the gallery could reasonably hold. And, as always, I have pushed it to the limit.”
Some highlights of the exhibition include: a 45 feet long roll reproducing the route from London to Holyhead, pieced together from scans of the engravings from John Ogilby’s road map of England and Wales (first published in 1675); early maps of Dublin; early editions of Swift’s most important writings (some with annotations); oil paintings of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift; and an interactive kiosk with images from illustrated editions of Gulliver’s Travels.
The academic conference, Jonathan Swift in the 21st Century, will take place in the Kislak Center on February 22-24, 2018. The conference presenters seek to reconsider Swift and his works through a contemporary lens, exploring how they have traveled across three centuries and around the world.
For more information on the exhibit and conference, please visit: www.library.upenn.edu/about/exhibits-events/raging-wit/about/exhibits-events/raging-wit.