1998–1999 Folger Institute Scholarly Programs

This article stub lists the programming of the Folger Institute for the 1998-1999 academic year. For more past programming, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

Shakespeare in an Age of Visual Culture

A 1998–1999 Mellon Weekend Seminar: Issues in Interpretation
Observers from a variety of vantage points have pronounced the late twentieth century an age of visual culture. This series of four weekend seminars is sponsored by the Center for Shakespeare Studies and supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It will address the problems of interpretation that are met in the classroom when Shakespeare's texts are filtered through visual media that are defined by their own generic conventions and convey the values of cultural moments very different from Shakespeare's. The sessions will proceed in reverse chronological order. Shakespeare transmitted through electronic media will be considered first; then Shakespeare on film and video (with special attention to differences between the two); then visual elements in contemporary stage productions of Shakespeare; and finally, Shakespeare and the printed visual media of his own age. The third session is timed to coincide with a current stage production in Washington, the fourth with a Folger exhibition of woodcut illustrations used in the Folger Shakespeare editions. Each session will consider the issues from three different perspectives: 1) a theoretical examination of the medium in question, 2) a survey of available resources for research in that medium, and 3) a workshop on ways in which the medium can be used to teach Shakespeare's plays.
Visiting faculty in order of appearance: Martin J. Irvine, Director of the Communication, Culture, and Technology Program in the Graduate School of Georgetown University; Stephen Orgel, Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of English at Stanford University, and Randall Nakayama, Associate Professor of English at San Francisco State University; Lois Potter, Ned B. Allen Professor of English at the University of Delaware; and Claire Farago, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Director: Bruce R. Smith, Professor of English at Georgetown University, is the author of Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare's England (1991), Ancient Scripts and Modern Experience on the English Stage, 1500–1600 (1988), and Roasting the Swan of Avon (1994), the catalogue for a Folger Library exhibition. His study on intersections of voice and sound with various forms of printed media in early modern England is forthcoming.

The Mental World of Stuart Catholicism

A Fall 1998 Semester-Length Seminar
Sponsored by the Center for the History of British Political Thought, this seminar will address the ways in which Catholicism, formed in part by Continental doctrines, was shaped by and in turn itself shaped British political thought from the accession of James I to the end of the reign of James II. Beginning with a survey of new readings of the reformation in England and on the Continent, the seminar will consider how Catholics in England responded to the new and refashioned the old. The seminar will ask how English Catholics thought and debated about church, state, and crown. How did English, Scottish, and Irish Catholics absorb the influences from Rome and Versailles? What influence came from religious orders and societies? What part did English Catholics play in the formation of a "British" identity? Finally, to broaden the scope of the investigation, what did Catholics read and how did they get their books and other documents? What role did Catholic women play in society and culture? How did Catholicism manifest itself in fields such as literature, architecture, drama, music, or science and philosophy? Seminar participants may take part in an informal reading of Lady Falkland's The Tragedy of Mariam, Fair Queen of Jewry. They may also attend a performance by the Folger Consort, keyed to the seminar.
Visiting faculty will include: Eamon Duffy (Magdalene College, Cambridge), John Henry (University of Edinburgh), Caroline Hibbard (University of Illinois, Urbana), Anthony Milton (University of Sheffield), Tadhg O hAnnrachain (University College, Dublin), and Steven Zwicker (Washington University, St. Louis).
Director: Patricia Brückmann is Professor of English, Emeritus, at the University of Toronto. The author of A Manner of Correspondence: The Scriblerus Club (1997), she has written widely on eighteenth-century texts and on Benedictine writers of the late seventeenth century. She is completing a book on The Canterbury Tales.

Atlantic Matters

A Fall 1998 Semester-Length Seminar
This seminar will examine the confrontation between English men and women and the peoples and environment in America within the fluid, interconnected context of the early modern Atlantic world. Through examination of key texts from the period in the light of recent historical and literary scholarship, the seminar will explore the ways in which peoples attempted to understand and manipulate the identities and social constructions of others. The effect produced by mixing people from Africa, Europe, and America raised questions in the minds of all parties about received notions of human society and history, such as the "naturalness" of gender roles, hierarchy, and religious belief. Early moderns believed in a reciprocal relationship between humans and their environment, and the seminar will examine the attempts of English venturers to understand the American environment and to evolve ways of adapting to it without sacrificing their own cultural integrity. It will also look at the motivations and tactics of those people who crossed cultural boundaries and fashioned identities within another culture. The seminar will begin with sixteenth-century documents and will then take up a wide variety of seventeenth-century reports from all regions of America in which English people were active from the Caribbean to Newfoundland, including the tracts, letters, maps, and paintings of promoters, explorers, and colonists. A particular concern will be to recover the voices of those who lacked access to writing.
Director: Karen Ordahl Kupperman is Professor of History at New York University. She is the author of Providence Island, 1630–1641: The Other Puritan Colony (1993), which won the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association. She is also the author of Roanoke: The Abandoned Colony (1984) and Settling with the Indians: The Meeting of English and Indian Cultures in America, 1580–1640(1980), in addition to numerous articles on colonization and the colonial experience.

Gender and Sanctity in Counter-Reformation Europe

A Fall 1998 Semester-Length Seminar
The dramatic decline in the percentage of female canonized saints during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries would appear to support the thesis that the early modern period reinforced patriarchy and the subordination of women in religious as well as secular life. Nonetheless, significant numbers of "holy women" in Catholic Europe continued to exert influence as mystics, visionaries, ascetics, monastic reformers, and even as political advisors. As a way of refining the scholarly feminist paradigm, this seminar will explore the phenomenon of holy women, those who achieved lasting renown as well as those who either were denounced to the Inquisition for pretense of sanctity or who faded into the recesses of local history. The diverse fortunes of successful and failed saints will serve as a point of departure for addressing the following questions: Is it possible to define a Counter-Reformation model for female sanctity? How did holy women and their male superiors negotiate relationships of power and intimacy? What was the extent of male control over female religious writing? What were the implications of class and gender for the construction of sanctity? Under what conditions was the Church willing to concede extraordinary spiritual authority to women? Teresa of Avila (1515–1582; canonized in 1622) and Cecilia Ferrazzi (1609–1684; denounced for pretense of sanctity in 1684) will serve as principal case studies; further examples from Portuguese, Spanish, French, or Italian sources will be selected on the basis of the linguistic abilities and interests of the participants. Seminar discussions will be conducted in English.
Director: Alison P. Weber is Associate Professor of Spanish and Chair of the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese at the University of Virginia. She is the author of Teresa de Avila and the Rhetoric of Femininity (1990). She has published numerous articles on early modern Spanish literature and religious history and edited the "Feminist Topics" issue of The Journal of Hispanic Philology (1989).

Renaissance Fetishisms: Clothes and the Fashioning of the Subject

A Fall 1998 Weekend Seminar held on 13–14 November
In Renaissance England and Europe, people were paid and exchanged gifts in the form of clothes, materials, and jewels. These objects were richly absorbent of symbolic meaning, embodying memories and social relations. This seminar will consider the extent to which clothes have a life of their own, both as material presences and as the encoders of other material and immaterial forms. To what extent were clothes imagined as preceding and forming the subject? What were the functions of specific items of clothing (gloves, rings, busks, shoes, etc.)? How did such items function as props in the theatre and in paintings? How did clothes work as material memories? What were the relations between new and second-hand clothes? What role did pawnbrokers play in the circulation of clothes and in the economy more generally? How do recent histories and theories of the fetish suggest new ways of thinking about the relation between the formation of the subject and materiality? Over the course of an intensive weekend, the seminar will explore specific topics of interest to the participants. Background reading in both original sources and the modern scholarly literature will be assigned in advance of the weekend.
Codirector: Ann Rosalind Jones is Esther Cloudman Dunn Professor of Comparative Literature at Smith College. She is the coauthor, with Peter Stallybrass, of the forthcoming Worn Worlds: Clothes and the Fashioning of the Subject in Renaissance England and Europe, and author of The Currency of Eros: Women's Love Lyric in Europe 1540–1620 (1990). With Margaret Rosenthal, she translated The Poetry and Selected Letters of Veronica Franco (1998).
Codirector: Peter Stallybrass is Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Director of the History of Material Texts at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of the forthcoming Embodied Politics: Enclosure and Transgression in Early Modern England. He is coeditor, with Jeffrey Masten and Nancy J. Vickers, of Language Machines: Technologies of Literary and Cultural Production (1997) and, with Margreta de Grazia and Maureen Quilligan, of Subject and Object in Renaissance Culture (1996).

Researching the Renaissance

A Spring 1999 Semester-Length Seminar for Dissertation Candidates
This seminar is designed specifically for doctoral candidates whose dissertation work would benefit either from recourse to the Folger Library collections or from ongoing discussion of the methodological and theoretical issues involved in the conduct of interdisciplinary scholarship—or, ideally, from both. Especially relevant will be dissertations in literature or history that deal with books printed in England between 1470 and 1700 or with manuscripts held by the Folger Shakespeare Library either in collection or on film (as, for instance, the State Papers Domestic or the manuscripts of the Marquis of Salisbury held at Hatfield House). The agenda for the group meetings will be set so as to introduce these and other scholarly resources and to accommodate the joint exploration of problems posed by individual seminar participants. Private conferences addressing the specific research configurations of individual projects will also be scheduled. Candidates for this seminar should consult with their dissertation directors before applying and should secure letters of reference reflecting such consultation.
Director: Leeds Barroll, Presidential Research Professor of English at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, is the author of Politics, Plague, and Shakespeare's Theatre: The Stuart Years (1991), Shakespearean Tragedy (1984), Artificial Persons (1974), and the forthcoming Inventing Queenship: Anna and the Culture of the First Stuart Court. He is the founding editor of Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England and Shakespeare Studies.

Music and Theatre 1589–1642

A Spring 1999 Semester-Length Seminar
This seminar will be an interdisciplinary project in English, French, and Italian music drama from late Renaissance court entertainments through Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea. Participants will examine the various musical forms and styles in use in these works and address the issues of music's function in literature and drama, as well as its political and social significance. Ideally the seminar will include singers, at least one accompanist (keyboard or lute/theorbo), and students of literature, drama, and history. Basic musical literacy (ability to follow a score) will be useful for all participants. The seminar's procedure will be to work outward from selected pieces of music. Specific topics will depend to a large degree upon the interests of participants, and could include examples from intermedii, early operas, French court ballets, and Jacobean masques. To the extent it is possible, participants will cooperate to shape informal performances of selected music. Participants will discuss the specific style of each piece, its context within dramatic works, issues of performance practice, and musical and poetic genre. The relationship between words and music will be a central concern throughout. Consideration will be given to understanding the evolution of new styles, forms, and techniques, as well as congruencies and contrasts across national and stylistic lines.
Director: Robert Eisenstein is Director of the Five College Early Music Program at Mount Holyoke College and Founder and Programming Director of the Folger Consort.

Going to Law

A Spring 1999 Semester-Length Seminar
Among the most pervasive forms of cultural expression in early modern England, law was also among the most arcane and ritualistic. Moreover, despite the ideological predominance of the common law, early modern English men and women routinely navigated their way through not one, but several laws, each with discrete courts, language, and cultural baggage. Using materials from Folger collections, this seminar will examine the remains of the early modern English law. It will explore how the law worked and how its records were produced. It will consider the "artificial knowledge" of legal idiom, its relationship to other forms of discourse, to narrative generally, and to critical legal theory. Topics of special interest to seminar participants will also be incorporated. Moving beyond a recognition of the law's role as a mechanism for discipline and conflict resolution, the seminar will examine some of the more subtle ways in which legal forms helped to shape early modern society: including operating as a common language, a mark of status, and a means of political education. The seminar's goal is to demystify the early modern English legal structure, providing a better understanding of when contemporaries went to law and how best, as scholars, we might follow them.
Director: Cynthia Herrup is Professor of History and Law at Duke University. Editor of the Journal of British Studies from 1991 to 1996, she is the author of The Common Peace: Participation and the Criminal Law in Seventeenth-Century England (1987). Her book on the Castlehaven scandal is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Scattered Rhymes, Bound Pages

A Spring 1999 Semester-Length Seminar
Precisely because the Renaissance sonnet sequence was so conventional, poets found in it an opportunity for combining imitation and revision. For modern readers the imitations offer a chance to observe cultural continuities at work, if often under pressure, and the revisions raise intriguing questions about originality, imitatio, subjectivity, and the shifting status of authorship. How may later poets say something new after Petrarch? How do the individual sonnets fit the whole, if they do? Is there a narrative or some other ordering and unifying principle to be found? Number symbolism, perhaps, or a calendar? How does erotic passion relate to religious or ethical imperatives? Is love always love or is it also a way of expressing political desire? How are the sequences presented physically on the page and in the volume? What happens when women write like Petrarch? Or if the love is homoerotic? What if the lover thinks, or affects to think, that he should be writing an epic? Ovid had claimed that when he attempted epic hexameters Cupid laughingly stole his final syllable, converting them into erotic elegiacs. Did sonneteers share this unease or defiance and if so, what does this show about their concepts of poetic glory and service to a dynasty or the translation of empire? In pursuing such topics the seminar will read sequences by Petrarch, Stampa, Labé, Du Bellay, Ronsard, Watson, Sidney, Spenser, Barnfield, Daniel, Drayton, Shakespeare, and Wroth, in many cases with reference to original editions. Some time will also be spent on two related forms: the emblem book and the psalter. All texts will be in English or in translation.
Director: Anne Lake Prescott is Professor of English at Barnard College and at the graduate English department at Columbia University. She is the author of Imagining Rabelais in the English Renaissance (1998) and French Poets and the English Renaissance: Studies in Fame and Transformation (1978). Coeditor of the third Norton edition of Edmund Spenser's Poetry (1993), she is now joint editor of Spenser Studies.

Renaissance Paleography in England

A Spring 1999 Semester-Length Skills Course
This skills course is designed to provide an introduction to English handwriting of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and to introduce participants to a wide range of documents of historical and literary interest from the manuscript collections of the Folger Shakespeare Library. These may include correspondence, literary works, accounts, inventories, wills, and deeds. Those who are encountering textual problems in their own work with Renaissance English manuscripts will be encouraged to discuss them with the class.
Director: Laetitia Yeandle is Curator of Manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She coedited with Richard Dunn The Journal of John Winthrop, 1630–1649 (1996) and edited the text of The Tractates for the Folger Library edition of The Works of Richard Hooker (1990). With Jean F. Preston, she coauthored Handwriting in England: 1400–1650(1992) and with Giles E. Dawson, Elizabethan Handwriting, 1500–1650: A Manual (1966).

Religion, Culture, and Recreation in Shakespeare's England

A Spring Weekend Faculty Seminar held on 19–20 March 1999
What was the religion of Shakespeare's England (and of William Shakespeare himself)? And what was its culture? Did this generation still share a single all-embracing culture (and should we talk of 'popular' culture and religion)? Or was this the moment when there was a fragmentation into discordant cultures? The possible faultlines which this seminar will hope to explore include those running between the culture (and religion) of the visual and mimetic and the new world of word and print; new and old attitudes towards traditional recreations; and the moral tensions associated with newer cultural forms, including theatre. Whether the notion of Puritanism can be invoked as a description, or even explanation, for cultural change is a problem we shall find it difficult to avoid. Over the course of an exacting weekend, the seminar will explore specific topics of interest to the participants within these interrogative frameworks. Background reading in both original sources and the modern scholarly literature will be assigned in advance of the weekend. Those selected to participate will be expected to submit position papers or samples of their projects for distribution in advance of the seminar.
Director: Patrick Collinson is Regius Professor of Modern History, Emeritus, at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He is the author of The Elizabethan Puritan Movement (1967 and 1990), The Religion of Protestants: The Church in English Society 1559–1625 (1984), and of particular relevance to this seminar, The Birthpangs of Protestant England (1988), among numerous other publications.