2009–2010 Folger Institute Scholarly Programs

This article stub lists the programming of the Folger Institute for the 2009-2010 academic year. For more past programming, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

Researching the Archives

2009-2010 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. The seminar aims to address research issues raised by the projects of its participants and by the kinds of archival material under investigation, but it will also consider broad methodological and theoretical problems relevant to current work in early modern studies and to collaborative and interdisciplinary scholarship.
Directors: Steven Zwicker and Derek Hirst are faculty members at Washington University in St. Louis. They are collaborating on a study of Andrew Marvell’s work and The Cambridge Companion to Andrew Marvell (forthcoming 2010). Steven Zwicker is Stanley Elkin Professor in the Humanities. His work includes Politics and Language in Dryden’s Poetry (1984), Lines of Authority (1993), the Cambridge Companions to English Literature 1650-1740 (1998) and to John Dryden (2004), the Penguin Classics John Dryden Selected Poems (2001), and a series of volumes edited with Kevin Sharpe on politics and culture in early modern England.
Derek Hirst is William Eliot Smith Professor of History. He is the author of Representative of the People? (1975), Authority and Conflict: England 1603-1658 (1986), England in Conflict 1603-1660: Kingdom, Community, Commonwealth 1603-1660 (1999), and co-editor (with Richard Strier) of Writing and Political Engagement in Seventeenth Century England (1999). He is currently working on Dominion: England and its Island Neighbours, c. 1500-1707 (forthcoming 2011).

Theatre and the Reformation of Space

2009 Fall Symposium
How did theatre (plays, playing, playgoing, and playing spaces); forms of performance (dance, masque, and civic pageantry); and theatricality more broadly considered condition the experience of spatiality in Early Modern Europe? How did theatre reassemble social and material relations so as to create public space where public space had not existed previously? How did the forms of performance create or reshape the spaces of privacy? The interests of the symposium are both historical and theoretical. It features historical research on theatre and spatiality in different national traditions; it ranges across the kinds of performance, including masque, commedia, tragedy, the jig, and so on; and it attends to theatricality in non-theatrical domains such as law, politics, and religion. It is interested in the shift from religious forms of theatre, such as Corpus Christi cycles or moralities, to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century forms, such as the commercial drama of Reformation London or the corrales drama of Golden Age Spain. It accounts for the various agents and means of influence and change from one culture to another. It pays particular attention to the questions about space itself—how it is created, who can occupy it, how to account for the relationship between virtual and physical space, and how to explain the interactions between privacy and publicity. The “reformation of space” has to do with how playhouses and playing practices affected the actual environment of early modern Europe as well as with how theatre and theatricality was able to reconfigure the lived experience of space. Three dozen applications will be accepted from scholars whose current research engages these issues. The symposium is offered in partnership with the interdisciplinary MaPs (Making Publics) Project, which is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Speakers: The symposium opens with a lecture by Edward W. Soja (UCLA), and includes invited discussants William Egginton (the Johns Hopkins University), Margaret Greer (Duke University), Jean E. Howard (Columbia University), Edward Muir (Northwestern University), Steven Mullaney (University of Michigan), Shankar Raman (MIT), Rose Marie San Juan (University College London), Guy Spielmann (Georgetown University), Deborah Steinberger (University of Delaware), and Paul Yachnin (McGill University). Pre-circulated materials will be the basis for their short presentations and extended discussions.

Contact and Exchange: China and the West

Fall 2009 Conference
While China and Europe developed asymmetrically over many centuries, historical moments of contact and exchange profoundly affected both. This one-day conference introduces scholars of western European cultures to cutting-edge topics in fields outside their normal ken and engages them in conversation with experts studying the history of China, circa the Ming and early Qing Dynasties. Four pairs of scholars will identify and examine points of significant historical exchange, influence, conflict, or divergence for a non-specialist audience. Broadly defined, the four session topics include literary traditions; ethnography, travel writing, and cartography; science, technology, and instrumentality; and economic trade, especially the developing Western market for decorative arts including porcelain and silk.This conference is supported by a grant from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange. It is coordinated with the Folger exhibition, “Imagining China: The View from Europe, 1550 – 1700,” which will be curated by Timothy Billings (Middlebury College).
Speakers: Liam M. Brockey (Michigan State University), Craig Clunas (University of Oxford), Walter Cohen (Cornell University), Benjamin A. Elman (Princeton University), Mordechai Feingold (California Institute of Technology), Laura Hostetler (University of Illinois at Chicago), Haun Saussy (Yale University), and Eva Ströber (Ceramic Museum Princessehof, The Netherlands).

India in British Political Thought, c. 1600-1800

Fall 2009 Semester Seminar
Recent scholarship has shown the importance of overseas settlement, colonies, and empire in the history of early modern British political thought. While most of this work has focused on the Atlantic world, this seminar is offered by the Center for the History of British Political Thought to explore the intellectual history of early modern British encounters with South Asia. The course will be structured by two inter-related themes: first, how the English East India Company figured as both a political and commercial project from its inception to the growth of a “British Indian Empire” in the late eighteenth century; and second, how Britons thought about the varied polities of early modern South Asia, in particular the vast empire of the Mughals. How did Britons who traveled, traded, fought, and governed in India adapt homegrown concepts to new contexts? How was British thought affected by confrontations and exchanges with the intellectual life of India? How did British thought about India fit into a broader pattern of European encounters with the region? And in what ways did encounters with India feed back into the metropolitan political thought of Britain? This seminar invites applications from scholars with original research to contribute to the conversation. It also welcomes applications from participants working in contiguous fields and from a variety of disciplines -- for comparative studies in the histories of colonialism and imperial expansion or on early modern political thought more broadly. Applicants with those interests, however, should take care to articulate the questions and assumptions with which they approach the seminar. They may profit from background readings in the Center’s work, including most recently British Political Thought in History, Literature and Theory, 1500—1800 , edited by David Armitage (Cambridge, 2006).
Director: Robert Travers is Associate Professor of History at Cornell University. Author of Ideology and Empire in Eighteenth Century India: The British in Bengal (2007), he has also published articles in journals such as Modern Asian Studies, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History and Past and Present.

Ben Jonson, Man of Letters

Fall 2009 Semester Seminar
Because of Ben Jonson’s complex position at the intersections of the theatre, the court, and the nascent world of professional letters, his work touches on almost every corner of English Renaissance literature. Arguably the second most important dramatist in the period, he nonetheless had a love-hate relationship with the theatre in which he worked. His masques and poems develop the idea of the poet as social and political commentator, but also register the strains and opportunities of writing in the public world. Moreover, his self-conscious shaping of his own identity in print and his cultivation of a wide circle of friends and intellectuals suggest that he was a powerful role model for the emerging notion of the independent man of letters. With The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson forthcoming, the time is ripe for a fresh look at Jonson’s multifaceted career. Participants will examine ideas of laureateship and authority; the poet in the world of power; Jonsonian crossovers between the popular and the classical; attitudes to friendship and sexuality; Jonson’s construction of his text in manuscript and print, and its reconstruction by modern editors; the Sons of Ben and literary inheritance; and Jonson’s afterlife in theatre, opera, and anecdote.
Director: Martin Butler is Professor of English Renaissance Drama at the University of Leeds. His most recent book is The Stuart Court Masque and Political Culture (2008). He has edited The Tempest (2007) and Cymbeline (2005), and is General Editor, with Ian Donaldson and David Bevington, of The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson (forthcoming 2010).

Teaching Paleography

December 2009 Workshop
This three-day workshop will explore strategies for teaching paleography at the graduate or advanced undergraduate level. The workshop aims to provide participants with the skills and resources to teach the English secretary hand, whether as a directed study, a single-session practicum in a topical seminar, or a semester-length skills course. It will build on aspects of Dr. Wolfe’s Folger Institute skills course, “Introduction to Early Modern English Paleography.” Participants will discuss the challenges they face due to limited manuscript resources on their own campuses. They will consult materials available on the web, in print, and in other collections. Drawing from these and digitized Folger materials, they will compile a set of paleographical exercises and pedagogical methods for teaching paleography at their home institutions. Applicants need not have experience in teaching paleography, but they must be proficient in reading secretary hand.
Director: Heather Wolfe is Curator of Manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Author of numerous articles on early modern manuscripts, she has most recently edited The Literary Career and Legacy of Elizabeth Cary, 1613-1680 (2007) and The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608: A Facsimile Edition of Folger Shakespeare Library MS V.b.232 (2007).
Faculty: Mary Robertson, the William A. Moffett Chief Curator of Manuscripts at the Huntington Library, author of the Guide to British Historical Manuscripts in the Huntington Library (1982); and Gavin Alexander, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of English at University of Cambridge, collaborator on "English Handwriting 1500-1700: An Online Course," and author of Writing After Sidney: The Literary Response to Sir Philip Sidney, 1586-1640 (2006).

Mastering Research at the Folger

Spring 2010 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 book, the visual analysis of images, manuscript studies, editorial practice, and various forms of historiography (theatrical, cultural, social, and political). Participants will develop their research skills through a series of exercises linked to the strengths and ranges of the collection and current trends and debates in scholarship. They will develop potential research projects; 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. Each student will assemble a portfolio of exercises throughout the term, with copies of all to be shared so that students are prepared for further graduate work with a broad-based sourcebook for early modern studies.
Director: Jesse Lander is Associate Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of Inventing Polemic: Religion, Print, and Literary Culture in Early Modern England (2006) and editor of Macbeth (2007). His current book project is provisionally entitled “‘They Say That Miracles Are Past’: Staging the Supernatural in Shakespeare’s England.”

Crossroads of Amsterdam

2010 Late-spring Faculty Weekend Seminar
The Dutch naval blockade of Antwerp propelled Amsterdam’s rapid transformation from a medieval town to one of the first global cities, the premier port of Northern Europe, a magnet for Protestant talent from the Hapsburg Netherlands, and a crossroads of peoples, commodities, and refined products from all over the trading world. Amsterdam’s citizen elite drove innovations in town planning, urban engineering, financial systems, education, religious organization, and social services. Though eager to homogenize difference, the city fostered openness to foreign traders and immigrants on its own terms, as signaled in the representational scheme of the most imposing Town Hall in Northern Europe. Amsterdam’s intercultural condition features as problem and triumph in literature, theater, cartography, and painting, and these arts flourished even as they engendered Calvinist critique. This seminar will investigate the successes and failures of the city to manage the tensions and stresses of urban expansion from roughly 1585 and 1700. It will gather a dozen faculty participants for interdisciplinary conversations that will be framed by a set of shared advance readings and sharpened by participants’ own research. Particularly welcome are projects that address the scope and limits of practices of tolerance and cosmopolitanism; and innovations in urban administration, social organization, and the built environment.
Director: Mariët Westermann is Provost of New York University Abu Dhabi and the Paulette Goddard Professor of Fine Arts at New York University. Her numerous books and articles include A Worldly Art: The Dutch Republic, 1585–1700 (1996, 2005), Art and Home: Dutch Interiors in the Age of Rembrandt (2001), Rembrandt: Art and Ideas (2000), and Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675): Rijksmuseum Dossier (2004). She is currently writing a study of silence as a distinct resource of painting.

Reading, Writing, and Erasmus

2010 Late-spring Seminar
Scholarship on early modernity routinely identifies the reading and writing practices of Europe between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries as Erasmian. This identification is fitting in that Erasmus, arguably the most widely read author of the period, not only devoted his own career to these two practices but also staked his livelihood on reforming them for others, especially the young. As part of this reform, Erasmus recommended good reading habits as the complement to good writing. Taking this complementarity as its point of departure, this seminar will explore how the rhetorical structures and strategies that shape an Erasmian education inform both Erasmus’ own literary production and the principles and practices of Erasmian hermeneutics. In addition to selected letters from Erasmus’ vast correspondence, readings will include educational, literary, and theological works, among them On the Method of Study, Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style, On the Writing of Letters, Adages (selections), The Colloquies (selections), The Antibarbarians, The Ciceronianus, The Enchiridion, The Paraclesis, and The Paraphrase on Romans. All are available in English translation. Participants’ projects will open up additional avenues of inquiry.
Director: Kathy Eden, Chavkin Family Professor of English and Professor of Classics at Columbia University, is editor of the Erasmus of Rotterdam Society Yearbook and author of several works on Erasmus, including Hermeneutics and the Rhetorical Tradition: Chapters in the Ancient Legacy and its Humanist Reception (1997), Friends Hold All Things in Common: Tradition, Intellectual Property and the “Adages” of Erasmus (2001) and “From the Cradle: Erasmus on Intimacy in Renaissance Letters,” Erasmus of Rotterdam Society Yearbook, 21 (2001). Erasmus also features in her current book-length study in preparation, entitled “The Renaissance Rediscovery of Intimacy.”

The Voice of Conscience, 1375-1613

2010 Late-spring Seminar
The starting-point of this seminar will be the transition from medieval to early modern conscience. The former tends to speak in the voice of collective or general knowledge, declaring what is generally known; the latter in the more particularized and potentially even idiosyncratic voice of “my” or “your” conscience. Participants will consider this transition, and its implications, within literary history. They will begin with several key medieval works (most particularly, Langland’s Piers Plowman) and continue into texts of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, including More’s prison letters, writings of Luther and Calvin, excerpts from Foxe, and Shakespeare’s Henry VIII. The seminar’s reading will conclude with Hamlet, a text in which all previous meanings of conscience seem to wash up, jostle, and contend. Among questions to be posed are: In whose “voice” does conscience speak in a given literary work? Can, and should, scholars speak of a distinctive “Reformation Conscience”? If conscience dwells in the body, does it risk assimilation as an organ or body part? If conscience plays a role in founding the subject, is it to be blamed for the inauguration of an irremediably split subject? What are the implications of such a subject for voice in poetry and for character in drama?
Director: Paul Strohm is Anna Garbedian Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University, and was formerly J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of Medieval Language and Literature at the University of Oxford. His books include: Social Chaucer (1989); Hochon’s Arrow: the Social Imagination of Medieval Texts (1992); England’s Empty Throne: Usurpation and the Language of Legitimation (1998); Theory and the Premodern Text (2000); Politique: Languages of Statecraft from Chaucer to Shakespeare (2005).

English Paleography

A Summer 2009 Institute Sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Over four weeks, Heather Wolfe, Curator of Manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library, will provide intensive training in the accurate reading and transcription of early modern English handwriting. Selected participants will focus primarily on the secretary and italic hands in the Tudor and Jacobean periods. They will also experiment with contemporary writing materials; learn the terminology for describing and comparing letter forms; consider the various editorial conventions relating to abbreviations, interlineal insertions, and deleted text; create a “mini-edition” of their own; and discuss the important and evolving role of handwritten documents within a wider context of print, manuscript, and oral cultures. Examples will be drawn from the Folger’s collection. Several guest faculty will provide their expert views of manuscript culture.
Director: Heather Wolfe is Curator of Manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She has most recently edited The Literary Career and Legacy of Elizabeth Cary, 1613-1680 (2007) and The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608: A Facsimile Edition of Folger Shakespeare Library MS V.b.232 (2007). In addition to essays on manuscripts in early modern England, Dr. Wolfe has also edited Elizabeth Cary, Lady Falkland: Life and Letters (2001); The Pen’s Excellencie: Treasures from the Manuscript Collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library (2002); and, with Alan Stewart, Letterwriting in Renaissance England (2004).