2007–2008 Folger Institute Scholarly Programs

This article stub lists the programming of the Folger Institute for the 2007–2008 academic year. For more past programming, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

The Second Shepherds' Play and Early Drama Studies Workshop

2007 Fall Workshop
With its brilliantly profane inversion of the nativity story, the “Wakefield Master’s” Second Shepherds’ Play articulates a deeply typological world view while also juxtaposing the sublime and the carnivalesque in ways often associated with the dramaturgy of the later Shakespeare and his contemporaries. While The Second Shepherds’ Play is one of the most widely read of medieval dramas, this one-day workshop asks what can be achieved with a modern production. Participants will view the Folger Consort’s new holiday production Thursday evening, and invited speakers will serve as catalysts to discussion the following day, when performers will join scholars to consider such topics as: the conventions of contemporary production and what they reveal about the evidentiary base of past practices and the desirability, or indeed possibility, of authenticity in production; the cross-fertilizations across the secular/religious divide that this play may illustrate; and the new directions in early drama studies that these discussions might articulate. Some fruitful questions for discussion include: What kind of drama is the Second Shepherds’ Play? What does it suggest about the nature of medieval religious drama, including its role in medieval society, its relationship to other spectacles, pageants, and civic ceremonies, and their various uses of social space? What has been the influence of early drama studies’ critical turn toward the body and to issues of performativity? What difference does it make if early drama is the domain of theatre studies or medieval literature, social history or even anthropology? What continuities and parallels exist from early to early-modern drama? Applicants should describe the ways their current research engages these issues and prepares them to participate actively throughout the sessions. The workshop will accommodate up to three dozen participants.
Organizers: Greg Walker (University of Leicester) and Kathleen Lynch (Folger Institute).
Session Moderators: Sarah Beckwith (Duke University), Sarah Carpenter (University of Edinburgh), Theresa Coletti (University of Maryland), Janette Dillon (University of Nottingham), Alexandra Johnston (REED, University of Toronto), John McGavin (University of Southampton), and Claire Sponsler (University of Iowa).

Constantinople/Istanbul: Destination, Way-Station, City of Renegades

2007 Fall Faculty Weekend Seminar
In 1453, the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople and refashioned the depopulated city into an imperial capitol that would endure until the empire was dismembered after World War I. The passing of the city of Constantine into Muslim hands was constructed as a disaster for Christendom on one hand and as a divine endorsement of Ottoman sovereignty on the other. That division has retained much of its primacy in the historiography of the Afro-Eurasian world. Yet the designations “Christendom” and “Islam” are inadequate; they fail to convey the multilayered nature of early modern visions of Constantinople and the Eurasian space in which it was embedded. The Ottoman empire, after all, was European and Christian as well as Asian and Muslim. Constantinople was one pole in the circuits of travel and trade which linked Venice (by sea) and Vienna (by land) to points east and to the sites of “classical” history and pilgrimage. The sultan’s abode was also a city of renegades (entrepreneurs, warriors, captives, artisans), a place where hierarchies of identity (status, ethnicity, religion, and gender) were sorted and realigned. The citizens of (and visitors to) Constantinople participated in a Mediterranean culture of artistry, poetics, sexuality, and consumption that stretched from the Atlantic world to the spiritual, commercial, and intellectual emporia of India, Persia, Arabia, and Palestine. One of a series of offerings on “Early Modern Cities,” this seminar will explore aspects of those connections, visions, identities, and rhetorics of representation. It will gather a dozen faculty participants for interdisciplinary conversations that will be framed by a set of shared advance readings and the participants’ own research projects.
Director: Palmira Brummett is Professor of History and Distinguished Professor of Humanities at the University of Tennessee. Her work involves the intersections of rhetoric and “reality” in the early modern Afro-Eurasian world. She is currently editing The Book of Travels: Genre, Itinerary, Ethnology and Pilgrimage, 1250–1700 and completing a monograph on Mapping Ottoman Space.

Researching the Archive

2007–2008 Year-long Dissertation Seminar
This monthly seminar, designed for doctoral candidates in History and English at work on their dissertations, focuses on the wealth of manuscript and printed material available for the study of early modern Britain. While the seminar will primarily address research issues relevant to the projects of its participants, it will also consider methodological and theoretical issues raised by the kinds of work being done and the varieties of archival 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 the seminar. Admission will depend in part on the dissertation director’s written certification of that fact, with preference given to candidates who have completed course work and preliminary exams or the equivalent. Applicants should be preparing a prospectus or beginning to write chapters. Those whose dissertations are substantially complete will not be competitive applicants. Preference will also be given to those who will make 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 and Chair of the Department of English and Comparative Literature. His books include Shakespeare After Theory (1999), Shakespeare and the Book (2001), and several edited works. He is a General Editor for the Arden Shakespeare series, for which he edited 1 Henry IV (2002). His current book project is The Invention of English Literature.
Director:Keith Wrightson is Randolph W. Townsend Jr. Professor of History at Yale University and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of English Society, 1580–1680 (1982) and Earthly Necessities: Economic Lives in Early Modern Britain (2000), and coauthor, with David Levine, of Poverty and Piety in an English Village: Terling, 1525–1700 (1979, 1995) and The Making of an Industrial Society: Whickham, 1560–1765 (1991).

Opera and Gendered Voices in Early Modern Europe

2007 Fall Semester Seminar
With its union of spectacle, poetry, and music, early modern opera provides a rich repository of ideas about the voice and body that lends itself to study from multi-disciplinary perspectives. This seminar will examine the many ways in which opera absorbed, expressed, and influenced gender ideologies in early modern Europe. Beginning with composers from early-seventeenth-century Italy (da Gagliano, Monteverdi, Cavalli, Mazzocchi) and paying particular attention to the Folger’s rich collection of Italian librettos, this seminar will also include an examination of tragédie-lyriques (Lully) and English masque and semi-opera (Purcell), according to the interests and expertise of the participants. Among the questions to be considered are: What strategies did composers, librettists, and set designers use to convey notions about gender and sexuality? How did differences in local tastes, customs, and, above all, political and social systems shape gender representation on the stage? How did opera manage the conflict between the requirements of female virtue (silence and chastity) and the desire to place rhetorically powerful and dangerous women on the operatic stage? Who sang in the opera, and how did casting decisions influence perceptions of gender? How did dance contribute to thinking about male and female bodies? Seminar participants will also consider the ways in which masculinity was represented in opera, and the impact of the castrato and transvestitism. In addition to consulting opera scores and librettos (with recordings and DVDs as available), participants will examine a variety of sources from the Folger collection, including behavior and conduct manuals, writings on rhetoric, emblem books, costume books, contemporary literary sources relevant to the study of the libretto, documents on singers, stagecraft, and finances, as well as visual sources such as engravings of scene designs and libretto illustrations.
Director: Wendy Heller is Associate Professor at Princeton University and Director of the Program in Italian Studies. Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women’s Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice (2003) is among her many publications. She is currently writing a book on the reception of antiquity in Baroque Opera.

Early Modern English Paleography

2007 Fall Semester 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. Applicants should describe the manuscript resources they are consulting in their own research as participants will have an opportunity to discuss with the class the textual problems they are encountering in their work with Renaissance English manuscripts.
Director: Heather Wolfe is Folger Curator of Manuscripts. She has written numerous articles on manuscript studies and has most recently edited The Literary Career and Legacy of Elizabeth Cary, 1613–1680 (2006) and The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608: A Facsimile Edition of Folger Shakespeare Library MS V.b.232 (forthcoming 2007).

Connections, Trust, and Causation in Economic History

2008 Spring Faculty Weekend Seminar
An increasingly large fissure has opened up between the “new economic history” which requires a technical understanding of econometrics, and the new cultural history which is theoretically much closer to anthropology or to literary criticism than to traditional economic history. As a result, the question of how material factors of production, consumption, and exchange affect the nature of society and institutions has to some extent been neglected. This seminar will provide a forum for interdisciplinary discussion of new ways of looking at economic causation, primarily through the conceptual importance of trust and connections. How were exchange relations created and maintained between historical actors as well as institutions, both in the marketplace and within other social and cultural spaces? With conversations organized around a core of advance readings and participants’ own research projects, the seminar will address such topics as the difficulties of organizing the exchange of value, whether it was payment for a barrel of beer or the obligation due to a neighbor or patron. How was trust structured in the marketplace of money, credit, and trade companies? How did people understand economic motivation? And how did “economic” motivation relate to the formation of other “connections” such as patronage, family, office holding, membership in guilds and societies, or friendship, all of which could provide material security or social advantage? A range of projects and perspectives are sought, from studies of the consumption of material household goods, including luxury goods; of credit and reputation in plays; of matters of linguistic instability and the financial revolution of the late-seventeenth century; and of the obligations of legal contracts.
Director: Craig Muldrew is a University Lecturer in the Faculty of History and a Fellow of Queens’ College, Cambridge University. His publications include The Economy of Obligation: The Culture of Credit and Social Relations in Early Modern England (1998). He is currently completing a book on work and consumption of the laboring poor in early modern England to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2008

British Political Thought in an Age of Globalization, c. 1750–1800

2008 Spring Symposium
This symposium is the latest of three on “Networks of Exchange,” sponsored by the Center for the History of British Political Thought. Each has been concerned with the distribution, translation, and common possession of texts and languages of political thought between the British kingdoms and other European cultures. This iteration expands the geographical scope farther, however, to account for the ways political thought traveled in the late eighteenth century, into America, the Caribbean, and India, for instance. In a series of formally introduced conversations, participants will consider some re-orientations of the British state: the loss of the Thirteen Colonies, union with Ireland, empire in India, and the transformation of Europe by the French Revolution and its subsequent militarization. Each of these events obliged British writers and actors to rethink themselves in relation to others, and obliged others to rethink the British in relation to them. In this setting, authors, texts, and ideas traveled and were translated between countries and cultures in conditions of peace and war, and of imperial crisis and expansion. What were the effects, internally and externally generated, on political thought about Britain? On what grounds can this period be thought of as one in which global dimensions were beginning to determine new political ideas?
Speakers: Richard Bourke (Queen Mary, University of London), Christopher Brown (Columbia University), Marianne Elliott (University of Liverpool), Christine Fauré (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), Jack Fruchtman, Jr. (Towson University), Rachel Hammersley (Newcastle University), Lynn Hunt (University of California, Los Angeles), Sankar Muthu (University of Chicago), Fania Oz-Salzberger (University of Haifa), Fred Rosen (University College London, Emeritus), Emma Rothschild (Harvard University), James Schmidt (Boston University), Richard B. Sher (New Jersey Institute of Technology), Eric Slauter (University of Chicago), and Robert Travers (Cornell University).

Observation in Early Modern Europe

2008 Late-Spring Faculty Weekend Seminar
How to look (and hear, smell, taste, and touch), how to record and recall, and how to describe were new challenges that confronted European naturalists from circa 1490 to 1785. New lands, new objects (often in the form of market commodities), new inventions and discoveries, and, above all, new forms of empirical inquiry exploded older frameworks for ordering knowledge. Knowledge itself was redefined to include the close study of particulars as well as the formulation of universal generalizations. Scholars trained to read books attempted to transfer some of these skills to the reading of nature; artisans who had once protected their empirical knowledge about materials and techniques as trade secrets published their observations in handbooks and treatises in the hopes of attracting princely patronage and customers. A narrow medical genre, the observationes, expanded and ultimately transformed writing about nature, society, and the arts. Twelve faculty participants will describe their own research projects as they relate to the growth of observation as an epistemic and publishing genre in early modern Europe. Special topics may include: the history of cognitive practices associated with observation (especially economies of attention and memory), the transfer of literary techniques such as excerpting and note-taking to observation, the refinement of the senses, the role of drawing and literary description in the cultivation of observational acuity, and the persona and ethos of the observer.
Director: Lorraine Daston is Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and Visiting Professor at the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago. Her publications include Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150–1750 (with Katharine Park, 1998), Biographies of Scientific Objects (2000), Eine kurze Geschichte der wissenschaftlichen Aufmerksamkeit (2001), and Things that Talk: Object Lessons from Art and Science (2004).

The Jesuit Enterprises

2008 Spring Semester Seminar
Jesuits were involved to a greater or lesser degree in almost every facet of early modern culture, both in Europe and abroad, and they left behind an extensive paper trail in print and manuscript, much of it unexamined. They were playwrights, astronomers and mathematicians, architects and painters, emblematists, creators of a world-wide network of “secondary” schools and universities, confessors to kings and spiritual directors to devout lay folk, lexicographers, designers of fortifications, polemicists, casuists (in the technical sense), pharmacists, urban planners, inspiration for women’s congregations, and experimenters in cultural adaptation, among many other enterprises. Jesuits were also the objects of scorn and hatred as virulent among Catholics as Protestants. In the past decade, scholarship on the Society of Jesus before its world-wide suppression by Pope Clement XIV in 1773 has exploded, inaugurating a trend that is now being described as “the new historiography” on the Jesuits. The seminar will situate Jesuit projects both in the traditional scholarly context that sees them as agents of the Counter Reformation as well as in newer approaches that see them as cultural agents on a massive scale in a variety of enterprises. It will be adapted as far as possible to the interests and concerns of the participants, and ample opportunity will be provided for participants to share the results of their research. The sessions themselves will be largely devoted to discussion of primary sources (in English translation) and works of recent scholarship from a variety of disciplines. For their research projects, it is assumed the participants have command of the relevant language(s).
Director: John W. O’Malley is University Professor at Georgetown University. In addition to his book The First Jesuits (1993), he has published extensively on different aspects of the religious culture of early modern Europe and has edited three collections of studies on the Society of Jesus. His most recent books are Trent and All That: Renaming Catholicism in the Early Modern Era (2000) and Four Cultures of the West (2004).

Shakespeare on Screen in Theory and Practice

2008 Spring Semester Seminar
The past two decades have witnessed an array of new approaches to the staging of Shakespeare on screen, ranging from Peter Greenaway’s genre-bending experiments in “database” cinema to Michael Almereyda’s recasting of Hamlet as a devotee of visual technologies as well as to Julie Taymor’s postmodern collisions of time and space. The seminar will take stock of this diversity, paying particular attention to the audio-visual idioms these adaptations draw on: from European art film to the conventions of television, documentary, rock video, performance art, computer games, broadband cinema, and other new media. Recent critical approaches to screen Shakespeare have also been synthetic in their methodological and theoretical emphases, drawing on the resources of film and television studies, performance studies, textual studies, and new media studies. The seminar will focus on several of the more cutting-edge developments in screen Shakespeare, welcoming a range of approaches to adaptation, exhibition, and reception. It will seek opportunities to look back from this recent period of experimentation to the long history of Shakespeare on screen, inviting reflection on the place of audio-visual adaptations in academic and classroom practice. Above all, the seminar seeks to identify larger avenues of inquiry as well as the skills and technical resources that will be needed as the field continues to expand.
Directors: Thomas Cartelli and Katherine Rowe are the co-authors of New Wave Shakespeare on Screen (2007).

Thomas Cartelli is Professor of English and NEH Professor of Humanities at Muhlenberg College. In addition to many articles on Shakespeare and various media, he is the author of Marlowe, Shakespeare, and the Economy of Theatrical Experience (1991) and Repositioning Shakespeare: National Formations, Postcolonial Appropriations (1999).

Katherine Rowe is Professor of English at Bryn Mawr, author of Dead Hands: Fictions of Agency, Renaissance to Modern (1999), and co-editor of Reading the Early Modern Passions: Essays in the Cultural History of Emotion (2004). Her current work focuses on adaptation as a cultural process and on the place of screen media in Shakespeare studies.

Writing and Wonder: Books, Memory, and Imagination in Early Modern Europe

2008 Spring Semester Seminar
In the age of the Wunderkammer, writing itself appeared miraculous: “What, then, is more wondrous?” asked a scholar in 1617. The assumption that cultural continuity depends entirely on writing was commonplace, yet infinitely stimulating to the literate imagination. As scholars consolidated philological study and systematically formed great libraries for patrons and institutions, they sifted ancient and medieval literature for heroic narratives about the origin of writing, the invention of arts and sciences, semi-divine authors, magical books, vast libraries, titanic struggles between writing and erasure, memory and oblivion, civilization and savagery. The appeal of this lore was greatest between 1200 and the “Age of Wonder” and had declined steeply by 1800, after scholarly triage redefined many literary wonders as either counterfeits or nonexistent “imaginary” books. Modern and postmodern disciplines of the book and writing—paleography, library science, the material history of the book—emerged as this process discredited antiquarian fantasies. But works like the Attempt at an Introduction to Historia Litteraria Antediluviana, that is, A History of Scholars and Scholarship Before the Flood (1709) are significant for interpreting scholarship, historical counterfeit, fiction, parody, and visual arts in the early modern period. Case studies may include late medieval encyclopedists, Quattrocento humanists, Renaissance compilers (Polydore Vergil, Ravisius Textor, et al.), canonical authors such as Rabelais, Montaigne, Tasso, Cervantes, Milton, Vico, and Voltaire, and other topics that arise from participants’ research.
Director: Walter Stephens is the Charles S. Singleton Professor of Italian Studies at The Johns Hopkins University. He is author of Demon Lovers: Witchcraft, Sex, and the Crisis of Belief (2002) and co-editor of Discourses of Authority in Medieval and Renaissance Literature (1989) among other publications. He is currently working on early modern counterfeit and the mythology of books and writing.

Shakespeare’s Birthday Lecture: “How Shakespeare Made History”

21 April 2008
British history is unthinkable without Shakespeare. His series of kings—Cymbeline, Lear, Macbeth, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV, Richard III, Henry VIII—are more familiar and more compelling than the mythical and historical figures on whom they are based. But when Shakespeare created his kings, he was entering into a crucial Renaissance debate: how to re-make British history to meet the new demands of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.
Lecturer: Alan Stewart is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of biographies of Francis Bacon, Philip Sidney, and most recently The Cradle King: The Life of James VI and I (2003). His next book is a study of Shakespeare’s Letters.