2008–2009 Folger Institute Scholarly Programs

This article stub lists the programming of the Folger Institute for the 2008–2009 academic year. For more past programming, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

The University Cultures of Early Modern Oxford and Cambridge

2008 Fall Faculty Weekend Seminar
In scholarship, the case of universities is like that of religious denominations: genealogical pieties and affiliations have prevailed in institutional histories. In the last few decades, religious historians of the early modern period have wholly revised this approach, however, and reinvigorated their field of studies. With the recent completion of multi-volume histories of Oxford and Cambridge, this is an opportune moment to take a similarly fresh look at the university cultures of early modern Oxford and Cambridge. This weekend seminar, therefore, aims to tease out some new critical approaches to the topic in two days of intensive and speculative conversation. Faculty applicants with fully developed research projects in this field are welcome to frame their own inquiries in their applications. Others may want to position their hypotheses or interests within the following critical debates, which are also surveyed in Professor Tyacke’s introduction to Seventeenth-Century Oxford.In the 1960s, for instance, historians studying sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Oxford and Cambridge were preoccupied with counting the growing numbers of students and analyzing their social composition, as part of what Lawrence Stone dubbed an “educational revolution.” A contemporary debate between Mark Curtis and Christopher Hill concerned the education on offer at English universities. For Hill, universities were essentially Aristotelian backwaters which failed to respond to the changing needs of society. Curtis responded by assigning them a vanguard role both in propagating the studia humanitatis and the training of youth. In the decades since, the focus has increasingly been on the curriculum–including the role of universities in scientific change and the contribution of puritanism–while somewhat neglecting the creation of new educated elites, lay as well as clerical, and the cultural diffusion of classical learning at the hands of graduate schoolmasters.
Director: Nicholas Tyacke is Honorary Professor of History at University College London and editor of Seventeenth-Century Oxford (The History of the University of Oxford, volume iv, 1997). His two most recent publications are Altars Restored: the Changing Face of English Religious Worship, 1547–c.1700 (2007), co-authored with Kenneth Fincham, and an edited collection The English Revolution, c.1590-1720: Politics, Religion and Communities (2007).

Researching the Archives

2008–2009 Year-Long Dissertation Seminar
Designed for doctoral candidates in History and English at work on their dissertations, this monthly seminar 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.
Directors: Jean E. Howard is the George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. Her books include Engendering a Nation: A Feminist Account of Shakespeare’s English Histories (1997, with Phyllis Rackin), and Theater of a City: The Places of London Comedy, 1598–1642, (2006).
Linda Levy Peck is Columbian Professor of History at The George Washington University. Her books include The Mental World of the Jacobean Court (1991) and Consuming Splendor: Society and Culture in Seventeenth-Century England (2005).

Forms of Religious Experience in the 17th-Century British Atlantic World

2008-2009 Year-Long Monthly Colloquium
The seventeenth century is marked by fervent (and sometimes tumultuous) experiences of religion in the British Isles and in America that intersect with transatlantic exchanges of several kinds–official and private correspondence, books willed to American colleges across the Atlantic, or manuscripts making the reverse journey to be printed in London. This colloquium focuses on the rich and diverse forms of religious experience in Britain and in America, as well as on such exchanges within the British Atlantic world. What forms of religious experience can be discerned? How do different forms shape religious experience? What is the role of the literary or imaginative in constructing forms of religious experience? How can focusing on materiality help us link clergy and laity, elite and popular, orthodox and proscribed forms of religious experience? What can be learned from the transatlantic comparison? While the directors will frame discussion with relevant readings, monthly colloquia focus on participants’ pre-circulated works-in-progress. Possible topics include: forms of reading (the Bible, catechisms, printed sermons, books of devotion, and popular narratives); material forms of exchange (print and manuscript, booksellers and printers in England and in America, print and book trade practices, scribal publication); literary genres (spiritual autobiography, conversion narrative, lyric poetry, prophecy, jeremiad); and practices or prescribed procedures of worship or devotion.
Directors: David D. Hall is Professor of American Religious History at Harvard Divinity School. General editor of the multi-volume series A History of the Book in America and editor (with Hugh Amory) of The Colonial Book in the Atlantic World (2000), he has also written Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England (1989) and edited The Antinomian Controversy, 1636-1638: A Documentary History (1968; 1990).
Laura L. Knoppers is Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University. She is author of Historicizing Milton: Spectacle, Power, and Poetry in Restoration England (1994) and of Constructing Cromwell: Ceremony, Portrait, and Print, 1645–1660 (2000), and her edited volumes include Puritanism and its Discontents (2003).

The Development of Poetry from Wyatt to Donne

2008 Fall Semester Seminar
Recent years have seen a radical re-evaluation of English poetry. An array of voices hitherto excluded from the canon–especially those of women and poetry on the geographical peripheries of early modern Britain–are now regularly anthologized and have become almost as well known to the present generation of undergraduates as those of the most illustrious poets of the period. As the canon has been dismantled and reconfigured, so too have the critical paradigms through which it is read. Perhaps most importantly, early modern poems are now more often situated within their social and ideological contexts than previously. Under this rubric, scholars can no longer take for granted the distinctions between verse hitherto held to be inferior in execution and content and the elevated, decorative, and lyrical language traditionally associated with canonical poetry. In the wake of such fundamental interrogation of the aesthetic evaluation and cultural function of poetry–What does poetry do? What is it for?–seminar participants will reconsider the terrain of early modern verse, from the elite to the popular, and allow a wide variety of poems to unfold in relation to questions about the nature, status, function, and aesthetic struggles of English poetry.
Director: Dympna Callaghan is Dean’s Professor in the Humanities at Syracuse University. Her books include Woman and Gender in Renaissance Tragedy, Shakespeare Without Women and Shakespeare’s Sonnets. She is currently working on an anthology of early modern poetry for Oxford University Press.


2008 Fall Semester Seminar
Authorial identity may be the organizing principle for most literary study today, but it offers a misleading picture of early modern English print and manuscript cultures. Before the nineteenth century, anonymity was a commonplace authorial pose and textual condition. The rise of print and the emergence of modern authorship did not quell either the practice of hiding an author or the interest in hidden authorship. Only by reincorporating anonymity into the history of authorship and books can we fully understand the dynamic and complex experiences of early authors and readers. Participants will investigate anonymity’s broad historical reach, its enduring traditions and short-lived fashions, and its connections to certain genres, coteries, and political crises. Within the rubrics of the legal, the political, the cultural, the material, and the literary (broadly defined), participants will mine the archives for familiar and overlooked anonymous texts; critique modern histories of authorship, copyright, and print; share their own research and research materials; and ponder methodological questions with other scholars who are interested not simply in the authors behind anonymity, but in early anonymity’s meanings, uses, and significance.
Directors: Robert Griffin is Associate Professor of English at Texas A&M University. He is the author of Wordsworth’s Pope: A Study in Literary Historiography (1995), and editor of The Faces of Anonymity: Anonymous and Pseudonymous Publication from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century (2003). He is currently completing a book called Anonymity and Authorship which is under contract with Columbia University Press.
Marcy North is Associate Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of The Anonymous Renaissance (2003) and several articles on early modern anonymity. Her current book project focuses on production labor and literary fashion in early modern manuscript culture.

Mastering Research at the Folger

2009 Spring Semester Seminar for Master’s-level Students
This seminar will illustrate and exemplify graduate-level work in the humanities, introducing first-year graduate students to 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 the history of the physical book, the visual analysis of images, manuscript studies, and various forms of historiography (theatrical, cultural, social, and political). Working with archival materials and major scholarly reference works, participants will develop their research skills through a series of exercises linked to their individual interests, the strengths and ranges of the collection, and current trends and debates in scholarship. They will develop critical reading skills; identify and sharpen theses and hypotheses; and engage with the variety of expertises in the scholarly community at the Folger Shakespeare Library, including those of fellows and professional staff. The seminar is tailored to the resources of the Folger’s research collections, but assignments will also direct participants to investigate and evaluate the holdings and reference materials available on their home campuses and online. Each student will assemble a portfolio of research exercises, analyses of sources, and formulations of projects. Copies of all portfolios will be shared so that students are prepared for further graduate work with a broad-based sourcebook for early modern studies. Applicants should describe briefly their ambitions for graduate study and indicate their understanding of the role of research in those studies. Examples may be drawn from their undergraduate courses as well as from their first semester graduate courses.
Director: Zachary Lesser is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Renaissance Drama and the Politics of Publication: Readings in the English Book Trade (2004), and the co-creator (with Alan Farmer) of DEEP: Database of Early English Playbooks. He is currently working on a book on print and popularity in Shakespeare’s England.

A Libelous History of England, c. 1570–1688

2009 Spring Semester Seminar
The history of libels—bitter, satirical, defamatory and sometimes obscene texts, in prose or verse, sung or chanted, illicitly printed or circulated in handwritten copies—offers a unique window into the political and literary culture of early modern England. Employing a multi-disciplinary perspective that approaches political history as cultural history, this seminar will explore the various meanings of libelous political discourse from the late Elizabethan era to the Glorious Revolution. Working with the Folger’s rich collection of printed books, news diaries, and poetry miscellanies, as well as utilizing the concurrent Folger exhibition on the culture of news in early modern England, participants will explore libels from two broad perspectives: as forms of political media, circulating in the early modern literary underground that constituted a crucial element of the emergent political public sphere; and as dynamic and complex political representations of monarchs and ministers, parliaments and policies, that reveal many of the ideological fissures and tensions that shaped the turbulent history of late Tudor and Stuart England.
This seminar has been designed for participants working in a number of disciplines and in a variety of fields—for participants interested in early modern English politics and political culture, and in early modern religion and religious polemic; participants interested in the history of the book, print culture and early modern reading practices; law and the practices of censorship; the history and theory of the public sphere; in literary culture (in particular prose and verse satire); and in gender studies and the history of sexuality. Ranging from the late Elizabethan to the late Stuart era, the seminar also offers participants an unusually broad prospective on early modern English history. Beginning with the classic Catholic prose libel Leicester's Commonwealth, the seminar will move chronologically, covering, among other topics, the Marprelate and anti-Marprelate writings of the late 1580s and -90s, the problem of court favourites and court scandal in the 1610s and 1620s, the role of "Puritan" underground print in the 1620s and -30s, the incorporation of insult and libel into the polemics of the civil wars and interregnum, and the political and literary significance of the proliferating pornographic and libelous attacks on the Restoration Monarchy. In short, this libelous history provides a powerful and unique lens through which to reassess the conflicts and transformations that characterized England's century of revolution.
Director: Alastair Bellany is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University. Author of The Politics of Court Scandal in Early Modern England: News Culture and the Overbury Affair, 1603–1666 (2002), he is also the editor of Early Stuart Libels: An Edition of Poetry from Manuscript Sources (2005, with Andrew McRae).

Introduction to Early Modern English Paleography

2009 Spring Semester Skills Course
This skills course provides an introduction to English handwriting of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with a strong emphasis on the secretary hand. Participants will be introduced to a wide range of documents of historical and literary interest from the manuscript collections of the Folger Shakespeare Library, including correspondence, literary works, accounts, inventories, wills, miscellanies, commonplace books, receipt books, petitions, and depositions. Applicants should describe their progress to date on a relevant research project and the kinds of manuscript resources required, whether at the Folger or elsewhere.
Director: Steven W. May currently serves as Adjunct Professor of English at Emory University and Senior Research Fellow at Sheffield University. His most recent work includes an edition of Queen Elizabeth, Selected Works (2004) and Elizabethan Poetry: A Bibliography and First-Line Index of English Verse, 1559–1603 (2004).

Researching Theatre History

2009 Spring Semester Seminar
Sponsored by the Center for Shakespeare Studies, this seminar will focus on the theory and practice of research in theatre history, with particular emphasis on recent developments in the field. Although “recreating” past performances continues to play a major role, theatre historians have ceased to regard it as the only goal of their work, and increasing attention has been paid to agendas and methodologies from other disciplines. Participants will explore a range of possible paradigms for theatre research, including the interpretation of theatrical biography and autobiography; the evaluation of theatrical reviewers; the use of archival material in interpreting the economic and social dimensions of performance; the archaeology of acting styles; the place of scenic spectacle and music in Shakespearean performance; and the rediscovery and application of early modern staging techniques. In addition to presenting their own research to the seminar, participants will develop skills in interpreting visual and audio-visual records of stage performance by working with promptbooks and other production records in manuscript and print drawn from the Folger’s extensive and unique holdings.
Director: Russell Jackson is Allardyce Nicoll Professor of Drama and theatre Arts in the University of Birmingham. His most recent publications are Shakespeare Films in the Making: Vision, Production and Reception (2007) and The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film (second edition, 2007). He co-edited (with Jonathan Bate) The Oxford Illustrated History of Shakespeare on Stage (2001) and (with Robert Smallwood) two volumes in the Cambridge ‘Players of Shakespeare’ series. Other publications include Romeo and Juliet in the “Shakespeare at Stratford” series (2003) and a translation of Theodor Fontane’s Shakespeare in the London, 1855–5 (1999).

Empire and Cosmopolis: Universalism from Rome to Washington

2009 Spring Faculty Weekend Seminar
Can “cosmopolitanism”—a Stoic idea first conceived of in the context of the empire of Alexander the Great—ever be detached from the concept of “empire”? Is it possible to imagine a universal brotherhood of mankind without also accepting the need for a single political order? This faculty weekend seminar begins with the Roman idea that their imperium was the manifestation of just such a brotherhood–a “civilization” which embodied a varied set of beliefs and cultural expectations bound by a single rule of law–which would finally embrace the entire world. With touchstone readings selected to orient discussion, participants will explore how this concept determined the course of the European, and later Western, empires until the final extinction of most overt forms of imperial government in the mid-twentieth century. At the same time, participants will look at the parallel development of the great Islamic, Mongol, Chinese, and Russian empires, all of which, at various points in their histories, drew upon analogous claims to universality. Faculty with advanced research projects that usefully illuminate these topics are encouraged to apply. Participants will introduce their own projects and engage in discussion with knowledgeable colleagues.
Director: Anthony Pagden is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and History at UCLA. Among his many books are Peoples and Empires: A Short History of European Migration, Exploration, and Conquest, from Greece to the Present (2001) and Lords of all the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France c. 1500–c. 1800 (1995). He is currently completing a study of Cosmopolitanism in the Enlightenment.

Changing Conceptions of Property

A Late-Spring Seminar
This seminar, sponsored by the Center for the History of British Political Thought, will examine the radically changing character of a fundamental concept in political and legal thought: property. Its shifting meanings in early modern Britain mirrored, and in many respects, drove, transformations of the emerging understanding of rights. Property originally indicated the right or title of a possessor to a thing possessed (with the possessor’s entitlement to legal protection and political membership). During the seventeenth century, however, property came to designate the thing possessed. Participants will examine the conceptual history of property, from real property in land to personal property in goods, capital, or credit, which increasingly defined the individual as a political agent with the capacity to act in society. Primary readings will be drawn from the common law mind through Harrington and Locke to the Scottish Enlightenment and Adam Smith. Session topics may include: the role of property in commerce and political economy; the social and legal agency of women as derived through property; and the use of property as a justification for its expropriation from indigenous peoples. Research projects may address social conventions and practices influenced by changing discourses of property, cultural pressures under which those discourses changed, or varieties of discourse in which property figures. Invited faculty will contribute their perspectives.
Directors: Gordon J. Schochet is a Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University. Founding co-editor of Hebraic Political Studies, he is the author of Patriarchalism in Political Thought (2nd ed., 1988). His Rights in Context: The Historical Construction of Moral and Legal Entitlements is forthcoming.
J.G.A. Pocock is Emeritus Professor of History at the Johns Hopkins University. Recent monographs include the four volumes of Barbarism and Religion (1999–2005) and The Discovery of Islands: Essays in British History (2005).

Secularization and Selfhood

A Late-Spring Seminar
It is a historical commonplace that a process of secularization accompanies the transition from pre-modern to modern societies: a growing indifference to religion among elite and educated classes, a separation of piety and ritual from the worlds of politics and the marketplace, and a gendering of religious practice. This seminar analyzes that process in terms of ideas about selfhood in the long eighteenth century. Participants will explore how individuals in England and America understood the seismic shift from the religious culture of the early modern period to the so-called “disenchantment of the world” that developed in the wake of the Enlightenment. How did individuals reconcile theological doctrines about the attainment of spiritual knowledge with scientific theories about the relation between mind and body? Or Protestant ideas about human depravity with Enlightenment ideas about human potential? How did Enlightenment ideas about agency and autonomous selfhood shape the popular religious imagination, and how did religious ideas of self-transcendence create identities that, by the end of the century, are recognizably modern? Selected primary texts from the long eighteenth century will address these and other questions, focusing on the themes of gender, epistemology, the meaning of health and illness, ideas about agency and passivity, emotional self-fashioning, and the individual’s relationship to the public sphere.
Director: Phyllis Mack is Professor of History and Women’s Studies at Rutgers University. In addition to her book, Visionary Women: Ecstatic Prophecy in Seventeenth-Century England (1992), she has published widely in the field of gender and religious studies. Her newest book, Heart Religion in the British Enlightenment: Gender and Emotion in Early Methodism, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press (2008)