A Folger Introduction to Research Methods and Agendas (seminar)

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For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

Week-long spring 2017 seminar.

The best research is inquiry based and allows for serendipity. A scholar needs to sharpen research questions and search skills simultaneously and with sensitivity to the ways questions and sources affect each other. The available evidence may invite a new thesis, require a revised approach, or even suggest a new field of exploration. This intensive week is not designed to advance participants’ individual research projects. Rather, it aims to cultivate a habit of curiosity into primary sources with exercises that engage participants’ research interests. It is offered to help early-stage graduate students develop a set of research-oriented literacies as they explore the Folger’s rich collections. With the guidance of visiting faculty and Folger staff, up to two dozen participants will examine bibliographical tools and their logics, hone their early modern book description skills, and improve their understanding of the cultural and technological histories of texts. Participants will ask reflexive questions about the nature of primary sources, the collections that house them, and the tools whereby one can access them.


Alan B. Farmer
Spring 2015 Semester Seminar

This seminar will illustrate and exemplify graduate-level work in the humanities, surveying the tools of research in early modern studies through a semester-long immersion in one of the world’s major Renaissance collections. Representative fields and approaches addressed will include various forms of historiography (e.g., theatrical, cultural, social, scientific, and political), the book as a material object, the visual analysis of images, manuscript studies, and editorial practice. Participants will develop their research skills through a series of exercises linked to the strengths and ranges of the collection and current trends and debates in scholarship. They will develop potential research projects; identify and discuss theses and hypotheses; and engage with the varieties of expertise found in the scholarly community at the Folger Shakespeare Library, including those of fellows and professional staff. Each student will assemble a portfolio of exercises throughout the term, with copies of all to be shared so that students are prepared for further graduate work with a broad-based sourcebook for early modern studies.

Director: Alan B. Farmer is Associate Professor of English at The Ohio State University. He is the co-creator (with Zachary Lesser) of DEEP: Database of Early English Playbooks and the co-editor (with Adam Zucker) of Localizing Caroline Drama (2006). The author of essays on Jonson, Shakespeare, and the early modern book trade, he is currently completing book projects on print and popularity in Shakespeare’s England and on playbooks, newsbooks, and the politics of the Thirty Years’ War in England.


This was a spring 2014 semester seminar led by Denise Albanese.

This seminar illustrated and exemplified graduate-level work in the humanities, surveying the tools of research in early modern studies through a semester-long immersion in one of the world’s major Renaissance collections. Representative fields and approaches addressed included various forms of historiography (e.g., theatrical, cultural, social, scientific, and political), the book as a material object, the visual analysis of images, manuscript studies, and editorial practice. Participants developed their research skills through a series of exercises linked to the strengths and ranges of the collection and current trends and debates in scholarship. They outlined potential research projects; identified and discussed theses and hypotheses; and engaged with the varieties of expertise found in the scholarly community at the Folger Shakespeare Library, including those of fellows and professional staff. Each student assembled a portfolio of exercises throughout the term, with shared copies of all so that students are prepared for further graduate work with a broad-based sourcebook for early modern studies.

Director: Denise Albanese is Professor of English and Cultural Studies at George Mason University, where she teaches courses in Shakespeare, Milton, and other early modern writing; critical and literary theory; and the cultural study of science and technology. Author of New Science, New World (1996) and Extramural Shakespeare (2010), she is currently completing a study on division and the natural world in seventeenth-century England.


See also: An Introduction to Research Methods at the Folger (spring 2013 led by Thomas Fulton).