2003–2004 Folger Institute Scholarly Programs

This article stub lists the programming of the Folger Institute for the 2003-2004 academic year. For more past programming, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

Imagining Nature: Technologies of the Literal and the Scientific Revolution

A Year-Long Colloquium
Conventionally, the emergence of modernity and the rise of modern science in the seventeenth century have been underwritten by the turn from the symbolic to the literal. Whether favoring a simple, unadorned descriptive language or insisting upon the concrete visual representation of natural phenomena, the "sciences" and medicine sought to reproduce and exhaustively catalogue the literal in nature as a foundation for the production of knowledge. This colloquium will interrogate the status of the literal through a careful historical examination of all kinds of technologies that were adopted-or adapted-to produce the literal as an object of knowledge and cultural authority. Among the technologies that we may explore are: reading (books and the Book of Nature); visual technologies and the function of images; mapping, diagramming, and modeling; the production of tables, lists, and other methods of storing, organizing, and retrieving (literal) information; mathematical representation; laboratory practices; instruments as technologies for accessing, documenting, and producing specific and precise realms of the literal; the use of museums, cabinets of curiosities, and natural history to construct "objects" as literal constituents of a natural world; classification techniques; and botanical gardens. Projects from a wide range of disciplines are welcome, including those in the fields of history, philosophy, history of science, literature, art history, and cultural studies. Discussions will be organized around the work-in-progress of participants, which will be circulated prior to each meeting along with selected additional readings.
Director: James J. Bono is Associate Professor in the Departments of History and of Medicine at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. He is an editor of the journal Configurations and is the author of, among other works, The Word of God and the Languages of Man: Interpreting Nature in Early Modern Science and Medicine vol. 1, Ficino to Descartes (1995); volume 2 is in progress.

Researching the Archive

A Monthly Dissertation Seminar
This seminar, designed for doctoral candidates in History and English already at work on their dissertation, focuses on the wealth of manuscript and printed material available for the study of early modern Britain. While the seminar will address itself to particular research issues relevant to the projects of its participants, it will also consider a variety of methodological and theoretical issues raised by the kinds of work that are being done and by the types of material under investigation. Applicants should consult with their dissertation directors before applying, to ensure that their work is at a stage that would benefit from this seminar, and at least one letter of reference should reflect that consultation. Preference will be given to those making significant use of the Library's collections as part of each monthly visit; for consortium affiliates, grants-in-aid are available to support two nights' lodging for each seminar session.
Director: David Scott Kastan is Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. He is the author of Shakespeare After Theory (1999) and Shakespeare and the Book (2001), among other works, and is currently working on a book entitled The Invention of English Literature. He also serves as a General Editor of the Arden Shakespeare.
Director: Linda Levy Peck is Columbian Professor of History at The George Washington University. She is the author of Court Patronage and Corruption in Early Stuart England (1990), Northampton: Patronage and Policy at the Court of James I (1982), and editor of The Mental World of the Jacobean Court (1991). She is currently working on a book entitled Consuming Splendor: Luxury and Cultural Borrowing in Seventeenth-Century England.

Networks and Practices of Political Exchange: Britain and Europe, 1651–1748

A Fall Weekend Symposium
This weekend symposium will trace the networks of interaction and patterns of exchange between the political cultures of continental Europe and of the Three Kingdoms of Britain and Ireland from the mid-seventeenth century to the dawn of the High Enlightenment. This period encompasses an earlier Enlightenment in which patterns of exchange develop, largely but not exclusively among Protestant cultures, and in which the British kingdoms both contributed and received a variety of intellectual impulses. The symposium, sponsored by the Center for the History of British Political Thought, will consider major conceptual changes in the relations between states and between states and churches, examining redefinitions of sovereignty, law and duty, of toleration and dogmatic theology, of orthodoxy and heterodoxy, and of the role of natural law. These relationships developed in the context of a republic of letters whose most signal achievement was the generation of a conception of civil society that came to inform and define Enlightenment itself. Participants will address not only the conceptual content of political exchange but also the material and institutional conditions that both made it possible and accelerated its development. It should thereby become evident whether there were differences between debates taking place along cosmopolitan networks and those taking place within territorial systems in the decades between the birth of Leviathan and the appearance of the Esprit des Lois.
Faculty: Jonathan Israel (Institute for Advanced Study), Margaret Jacob (UCLA), and John Marshall (The Johns Hopkins University) will codirect the opening session. Invited scholars who will lead the discussions that follow include Silvia Berti (Università degli Studi di Roma), Franz Bosbach (Universität Bayreuth), Justin Champion (Royal Holloway College, London), Anne Goldgar (King's College, London), Knud Haakonssen (Boston University), Allan Macinnes (University of Aberdeen), James Moore (Concordia University, Montreal), Melvin Richter (Emeritus, Hunter College, CUNY), Patrick Riley (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and John Robertson (St Hugh's College, Oxford).

The Three Kingdoms in an Age of Revolution, 1660–1720

A 2003 Fall Semester Seminar
The late seventeenth century was a period of upheaval across the British Isles: the three different revolutions in England, Scotland, and Ireland not only dramatically altered the course of historical development within the respective kingdoms but also necessitated a reworking of the relationship between them, thus spawning a fourth "British" revolution that led to the formation of the British State. Drawing on an eclectic range of sources—including contemporary histories, sermons, broadsides, political poetry, and satirical prints—this seminar will explore the interconnections between high and low politics across the three kingdoms. Rather than focusing solely on the elite, we will emphasize the important interventions of the lower orders across the Britannic archipelago, seeking both to measure the extent to which "the people" really counted and to assess the best methodologies for recapturing popular political sentiment in this period. The seminar will also consider whether these upheavals can genuinely be said to be British in the making or whether political developments in Scotland, Ireland, and England simply ran their separate, albeit parallel, paths. Once we set the so-called Glorious Revolution in its appropriate three-kingdoms context, we will see that it was not the tame, tranquil affair often depicted by historians, but rather a major revolution in its own right which fundamentally-and permanently-transformed the nature of the polities across the three British kingdoms.
Director: Tim Harris is Professor of History at Brown University. His books include London Crowds in the Reign of Charles II (1987), Politics under the Later Stuarts (1993), and most recently an edited volume, The Politics of the Excluded, c. 1500-1850 (2001). His British Revolutions: The Making of the Modern Nation, 1660-1720 is forthcoming.

Theatrical Commerce and the Repertory System in Early Modern England

A 2003 Fall Semester Seminar
Scholars are used to identifying plays by authorship, date, and company ownership, but are not as practiced in considering the plays so identified as members of a company's repertory, with all that concept entails. This seminar will draw on the resources of the Folger Shakespeare Library to investigate the ramifications of the repertory system in the early modern playhouse world, 1583–1613. To begin, we will lay out some background on the business of playing: company structure and management, playing venues, audiences, and texts. Subsequently, we will focus on company repertories, looking across the theatrical marketplace in chronological units (1583–94, 1594–99, 1599–1603, and 1603–13). The goal will be to consider the commercial implications of a given company's repertory as well as the repertories in competition with each another. Participants will be expected to be (or to become) familiar with current scholarship in theatre history. However, most of the time will be spent with the plays themselves as repertorial siblings and rivals across company lines. We will assemble these repertories with an eye to cultural motifs and staging techniques that might have characterized an individual company's identity and strategies of theatrical commerce at the time. There will be ample opportunity for participants with projects in conception, or underway, to explore those projects further in the context of the seminar's focus.
Director: Roslyn L. Knutson is Professor of English at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She is the author of Playing Companies and Commerce in Shakespeare's Time (2001) and The Repertory of Shakespeare's Company, 1594-1613 (1991), as well as numerous articles on early modern theatre history. She is currently researching the lost plays of the 1590s.

Early Modern Scientific and Intellectual Biography

Steven Shapin
A 2004 Spring Faculty Weekend Seminar
This seminar aims to introduce historians and literary scholars to some relatively unfamiliar sociological and philosophical resources for re-thinking how biographers—past and present-write about the lives of scientific and philosophical truth-speakers. Part of the exercise will be devoted to explicating the codes and conventions used by early modern commentators to talk about their contemporaries: e.g., Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Hobbes, Boyle, Hooke, Locke, Newton. Another part will assess how traditions of telling such lives have changed from the early modern period to our own. Topics to be addressed include: asceticism and the moral and physical constitution of scientific and philosophical thinkers; the relationship between conceptions of individual authenticity and the idea of truth; the relationship between ideas about knowledge and the mental and moral make-up of knowers; the social role of scholars and its bearing on the moral, social, and intellectual characteristics attributed to them; the uses of intellectual biography in constituting the authority of knowledge; how individuality and the social state figure in such biographies and how motives come to be attributed; and the differences between telling the lives of those who speak truth about reality and those whose cultural products are recognized as works of the imagination.
Director: Steven Shapin is Professor of Sociology and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. His books include A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century England (1994), The Scientific Revolution (1996), and Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life (1985, with Simon Schaffer). He is currently working on a book about the ideas of scientific knowledge and personal virtue in late modernity.

The Fate of Rhetoric in Early Modern England

John Guillory
A 2004 Spring Semester Seminar
C. S. Lewis once remarked that "Rhetoric is the greatest barrier between us and our ancestors . . . an invisible wall." This seminar will further the attempt to broach that wall by both surveying the scope of rhetoric in Renaissance England and undertaking a scholarly autopsy of its demise. By the end of the Renaissance, rhetoric was frequently attacked; by the 1740s Adam Smith could dismiss it as "a silly set of books." What happened between the great revival of classical rhetoric in England during the sixteenth century and the time of Smith? Why does rhetoric become positioned in opposition to philosophy and theology during the seventeenth century? How do the fortunes of rhetoric relate to the emergence of modern divisions between the disciplines of knowledge? After many years of research on the subject of rhetoric, its fate in the early modern period and its effect are still not well understood. Our return to the scene of rhetoric's demise will consider two kinds of documentary evidence: the profusion of rhetorical handbooks and treatises produced during the period, and the increasingly hostile critiques of rhetoric emanating from philosophical and religious discourse. While we will examine some of the more familiar rhetorical treatises of the period, we will also explore the vast and largely unread mass of rhetorical discourse in the English Renaissance.
Director: John Guillory is Professor of English at New York University. He is the author of Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation (1993) and Poetic Authority: Spenser, Milton and Literary History (1983), and is currently working on two books titled Literary Study in the Age of the New Class and The Prose of Modernity: Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Poetry in Early Modern England.

The Making of Shakespeare(s)

Coppélia Kahn
A 2004 Spring Semester Seminar
Recent scholarship has begun to explore how Shakespeare became "the Bard," questioning the political stakes involved in the creation of this icon and the evolution of the icon into an institution. But the time has come to ask more pressing questions: For example, how did that icon, in specific historical contexts, come to signify a racially inflected idea of Englishness as Anglo-Saxon? What other versions of Shakespeare have been marshaled to challenge the icon and the institution? This seminar, sponsored by the Center for Shakespeare Studies, will enter the debate about the construction of Shakespeare(s) by attending to such contexts as writing and nationhood, discourses of race, the literary and theatrical marketplace, authorship, intellectual property, and the formation of the English canon. Taking as our starting point the poet's public image as constructed in the First Folio, and moving towards the paradoxes of American bardolatry in the nineteenth century as a conclusion, we will focus on a range of specific moments and media to explore the sociopolitical significations of various Shakespeare(s). The seminar will draw on the Folger's archives and on participants' interests; participants need not, however, be currently engaged in research directly relating to the above topics.
Director: Coppélia Kahn is Professor of English at Brown University. She is the author of Roman Shakespeare: Warriors, Wounds, and Women (1997) and Man's Estate: Masculine Identity in Shakespeare (1981), among other works. Her edition of The Roaring Girl is forthcoming as part of the Oxford Complete Works of Thomas Middleton.

Early Modern Embodiment

Valerie Traub
A 2004 Spring Semester Seminar
Over the past twenty years, scholars have investigated a wide range of issues regarding early modern representations of gender, status, race, and sexuality. As was appropriate for new fields of study, much of this work tended to focus on one or two discrete axes of identity-homoeroticism, for instance, or gender and nationhood-or to treat several modes of embodiment sequentially and independently. This seminar will continue to explore the ways in which embodiment was experienced, represented, and imagined through ideologies and practices of gender, marriage, reproduction, and kinship; labor, rank, status, and violence; religious, political, ethnic, and national affiliation; health and sickness, pleasure and desire. Rather than respecting established conceptual parameters, however, we will be guided throughout by the question: how do these various modes of embodiment interact, both in representation and lived experience? To what extent, for instance, do gender, status, and race together affect the expression of erotic desire? Can scholars speak simultaneously of classed and racialized sexualities? How did the labor one performed, along with the threat of sickness or violence, affect one's pursuit of bodily pleasure? In addition to analyzing literary, medical, and/or visual representations-chosen by seminar participants from their own research projects-participants will engage with historiographic and methodological questions: How do we know eroticism when we see it? To what extent is it possible to gain access to the material practices of sex? What kind of "evidence" of social practices are medical books, political satire, pastoral painting, or the language of bawdy?
Director: Valerie Traub is Professor of English and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern England (2002), Desire and Anxiety: Circulations of Sexuality in Shakespearean Drama (1992), and coeditor of Feminist Readings of Early Modern Culture: Emerging Subjects (1996).

The English Reformation, 1500-1640: One or Many?

Diarmaid MacCulloch
A 2004 Late-spring Seminar
The religious revolution that unfolded in Tudor and early Stuart England has been seen by some as a single "Reformation" and by others as a plural series of "Reformations." This seminar will focus upon the most varied succession of Reformations in Europe, steered by royal decisions in two generations of that remarkable and talented dynasty of usurping adventurers, the Tudors. King Henry VIII first broke with Rome and destroyed much traditional religious life but did not decisively align what he was doing with any other Reformation. The Reformation in the reign of his son Edward VI was much more uncompromising, while Mary tried to reverse everything, and Elizabeth restored her own version of Protestantism. These official Reformations need to be understood against a background of popular enthusiasm and opposition, even rebellion, which those in power could never ignore. We will see how a renewed Church developed out of the official settlement of 1558–59, and how it gradually developed a theological identity unique in the European spectrums of Reformation. We will seek to account for the implosion in English Protestantism in mid-seventeenth century civil wars, and to trace the fortunes of papalist Catholicism from monopoly status to persecuted minority, relating religious change to the structure and habits of life of early modern society. Lurking behind these particular issues is the question of whether scholars can properly describe the English Church as "Anglican" before Charles II's Restoration to the throne in 1660, and of how to position this Church and its people among the Reformations of northern Europe.
Director: Diarmaid MacCulloch is a Fellow of St Cross College and Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University, and is a fellow of the British Academy. In addition to co-editing The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, he is the author of Thomas Cranmer: A Life (1996) and The Boy King: Edward VI and the Protestant Reformation (2000). His general history of the Reformation throughout Europe, House Divided, is forthcoming.