Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates, Folger Institute NEH microgrant project (2016-2017)

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This page includes open access teaching resources in addition to summarizing this Folger Institute project.

The Folger Institute's Center for Shakespeare Studies administered this national micro-grant project funded by the NEH Division of Education Programs. Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates awarded micro-grants to college faculty involved in the Folger's NEH-sponsored national tour First Folio!. The micro-grant competition challenged college faculty to leverage the energy of public outreach initiatives towards teaching strategies, resources, and objectives in a digital age. These faculty development grants also sought to summon a community of practitioners, constituted across departments in large universities and among faculty on various campuses in a local region. The project launched with a summer 2016 workshop at the Folger which gathered representatives from each awarded team, and concluded by making new teaching resources developed from micro-grants available on this page.

Project Director: Dr. Kathleen Lynch | Research Associate / Project Manager: Dr. Kyle Vitale | Project Intern: Justine DeCamillis  

Micro-Grant Awardees

Through competitive micro-grants managed by the Folger Institute, 21 college faculty teams were awarded funds to develop initiatives that strengthen college-level instruction of Shakespeare's plays. Main institutions and contacts were as follows:

  • Belmont University, TN
    • Dr. Marcia McDonald and Dr. Jayme Yeo, Department of English
  • Cleveland State University, OH
    • Dr. James Marino, Department of English
  • Drew University, NJ
    • Dr. Kimberly Rhodes, Department of Art History
  • Emory University, GA
    • Dr. Sheila Cavanagh, Department of English
  • Florida International University, FL
    • Dr. Jamie Sutton and Dr. Vernon Dickson, Department of English
  • Gallaudet University, DC
    • Dr. Jill Bradbury, Department of English
  • Kansas State University, KS
    • Dr. Don Hedrick and Dr. Kara Northway, Department of English
  • Mary Baldwin College, VA
    • Dr. Paul Menzer, Shakespeare and Performance
  • Texas A&M University (College Station and Corpus Christi), TX
    • Dr. Kathryn Santos, Department of English
  • Tulane University, LA
    • Dr. Scott Oldenburg, Department of English
  • University of Arizona, AZ
    • Dr. Meg Lota Brown and Dr. David Sterling Brown, Department of English
  • University of Colorado Boulder, CO
    • Dr. Rachael Deagman, Department of English
  • University of Connecticut, CT
    • Dr. Thomas Meacham, Department of Dramatic Arts
  • University of Hawai'i, HI
    • Dr. M. Puakea Nogelmeier and Ms. Ano'ilani Aga, Kawaiheulani Center for Hawaiian Language
  • University of Iowa, IA
    • Dr. Adam Hooks, Department of English
  • University of Louisville, KY
    • Dr. Andrew Rabin and Dr. Mark Mattes, Department of English
  • University of Minnesota Duluth, MN
    • Dr. Krista Twu, Department of English
  • University of Oregon, OR
    • Dr. Lara Bovilsky, Department of English
  • University of South Dakota, SD
    • Dr. Darlene Farabee, Department of English
  • Wayne State University, MI
    • Dr. Jaime Goodrich, Department of English
  • Wheeling Jesuit University, WV
    • Dr. Amy Phillips, Department of English


A map presenting the location of micro-grant sites can be found here.

Awarded projects included regional conferences bringing flagship universities and local colleges into conversation; new websites featuring teaching modules, digitized exhibitions and archival materials, modern performance archives, and hyperlinked editions of Folger Digital Texts crafted by undergraduate students; new coursework, workshops, and instructional videos in book history, book arts, performance, and cultural issues; deep dives into Shakespeare and local demographic representations; and white papers counseling on workshop and conference development. A sampling of the fruits from some of these programs is available at the bottom of this page.

Pedagogical Workshop at the Folger

Representatives from each micro-grant team gathered at the Folger on June 13 and 14, 2016, to attend workshops and roundtables that aided in identifying resources for student work and strategizing over their use. Folger Institute project staff summarized the following as guiding questions across the micro-grants:

  • How do faculty introduce students to early modern material culture in ways that open channels for considering today's proliferating digital media scenes?
  • On a related note, how do faculty create classroom assignments that reach out to online resources for students with varying digital literacy and dependencies?
  • How will faculty bring a better understanding of editorial theory and practice into the classroom? (And why would they?) What are the hands-on opportunities for undergrads to approach texts as editors do, whether working with a modern print edition, a facsimile, or a digital edition?
  • How do faculty discuss the relations of text and performance, adaptation, translation, and so on?
  • How do faculty bring theater history into the discussion, from performance stills, to sound clips, to annotated prompt books?


The workshop responded to these questions through roundtables and individual themed sessions. In the opening roundtable, "Thinking Pedagogically," Dr. Stephen Buhler performed a selection of the Bard’s sonnets set to popular rock ballads on his mandolin, while he, Dr. Diana Henderson, Dr. Kim McLean-Fiander, and Dr. Scott Trudell explored how pedagogy in the digital age requires deeper evaluations of our classroom audience and new approaches to the student, not as individuals, but as hybrid media consumers. The second roundtable, "Mediated Shakespeares" co-hosted by Dr. Alan Galey, Dr. Adam Hooks, and Dr. James Marino, concerned questions of scale, deconstruction, and different media pathways for students to approach Shakespeare.

Book and Print History in Mediation

These workshops explored how welcoming archival materials into the classroom leads students and scholars into productive conversations of intention, production, and human error. Drs. Galey and Hooks co-hosted two interactive seminars that used various editions of Hamlet to demonstrate how students can make discoveries by examining the material text. They shared lesson plans that help student edit original printings for punctuation, diagram the printing history of a text, and more.

Digital Projects

Digital projects like the Map of Early Modern London, introduced by Dr. McLean-Fiander, demonstrated how bringing Shakespeare's world into present-day mediums and histories provides students with a nuanced understanding of his cultural impact. Drs. Owen Williams and Kyle Vitale shared some of the Folger’s evergreen and emerging digital resources, including Shakespeare Documented, Hamnet, the Digital image collection and J-STOR’s "Understanding Shakespeare," leading a conversation about the use and improvement of these tools for the undergraduate classroom.

Performance and Interactive Digital Media

Several workshops explored developments in more traditional teaching approaches. Drs. Paul Menzer, Doreen Bechtol, Buhler and Marino examined how embodied performance through music, reading aloud, and physical engagement with texts can help students understand cues and emotional construction in the text. Exploring performance pedagogy and digital media, Dr. Henderson explored classroom approaches that balance mass media and online modules with “on your feet” lesson plans, while Dr. Trudell showed how media projects like his own "Sounds of Pageantry," along with blogging platforms in the classroom, help students envision the sensory realities of performance.

Translating Shakespeare

 Dr. Alexa Huang explored the crowd sourcing power of translating Shakespeare across languages and cultures, with particular attention to editing practices as a form of cultural censorship. Dr. Huang also showed how translating Shakespeare’s complete works serves as a political ambassador for transcontinental collaboration. A session led by Dr. Georgianna Ziegler explored, through the America's Shakespeare exhibition and related content, how Shakespeare was translated, adapted and adopted by newcomers in America from advertisements to early 19th century immigrant theater productions.

Using the Digital Archive

Dr. Laura Estill, borrowing from her own World Shakespeare Bibliography, explored utilization of online archives and crowd-sourcing for creating student bibliographies and helping students learn to analyze and organize metadata. In a second "Folger Resources" talk, Dr. Williams, Dr. Vitale and the Folger’s Data Architect Michael Poston demonstrated various uses for the Folger Digital Texts API in the classroom.

Teaching Resources


Faculty Exchange

Awarded faculty shared the following teaching resources from their micro-grant programming and accomplishments:

Dividing the Kingdom (Wayne State University): website featuring a range of interdisciplinary college teaching modules for King Lear, including syllabuses, activities, assignments, and resources that explore adaptation, cultural studies, digital humanities, digital texts, performance, philosophy, student work, and textual criticism.

Nashville Shakespeare Performance Archive (Belmont University): a modern performance archive curated by students and drawing from the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, featuring photographs, videos, and scholarship about modern directing, acting, costume design, and songwriting for Comedy of Errors and other plays.

Shakespeare at Iowa (University of Iowa): online exhibition site featuring sections on "Shakespeare in Print," "Shakespeare's Library," and "Featurettes" like "Faking Shakespeare" and "Used Books" that explore the printing, adaption, and literary context of the plays, alongside Shakespeare's educational and cultural milieu.

Will and the Word, Books in the Time of Shakespeare, and Richard III on Page and Stage (Drew University): three exhibitions digitized from the First Folio! tour that explore, respectively, the religious beliefs, powers, and books in Shakespeare's England; an overview of the early modern printing process, from papermaking to binding decoration; and representations of Richard III from theater history and print.

Time's Pencil (University of Oregon): digitized exhibition from the First Folio! tour, charting how Shakespeare was adapted, revised, and rewritten over the centuries, through images and essays exploring the Folios and sonnets, adaptations and editions through the 17th and 18th centuries, and Shakespeare in children's education.

Experiencing Shakespeare (University of Connecticut): website for "Experiencing Shakespeare" course, including videos of students editing and producing booklets of Hamlet on an antique hand press, and students viewing and then condensing King Lear into a puppet show informed by images from the Folger's Digital Image Collection.

Cleveland Teaches Shakespeare and Cleveland State Sample Syllabus (Cleveland State University): collaborative website featuring teaching resources and podcasts from northeastern Ohio colleges and universities; and, a sample syllabus shared and developed during the "Cleveland Teaches Shakespeare" conference, featuring explorations of Hamlet through paratextual matter in Case Western Reserve Special Collections and study of the intersections between material and reception history.

 Shakespeare, Diversity, and Technology (University of Arizona): An interactive resource guide for a course titled "Shakespeare and Diversity: Engaging Beyond Boundaries." The final project, "Representation and (Social) Violence in Shakespeare" was designed using this micro grant's resources.


Spotlight on Folger Resources

Throughout the grant period, Project Director Dr. Kathleen Lynch, Project Manager Dr. Kyle Vitale, and Project Intern Justine DeCamillis also produced teaching content based on Folger resources:

DIY First Folio (coming late July 2017): a visually rich narrative of the First Folio's 1623 printing, featuring interactive exercises that allow users to fold and unfold Folio sheets, create play gatherings, print high resolution facsimile images of pages from the First Folio, and discover printing challenges like the copyright issues with Troilus.

Image Slides: images curated from the Folger's Digital Image Collection for popular college classroom themes. Follow the link and then click "Export to Powerpoint"!

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Lesson plans and assignments: adaptable .docx materials for introducing the website Shakespeare Documented into the classroom.

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