2010–2011 Folger Institute Scholarly Programs

This article lists the programming of the Folger Institute for the 2010–2011 academic year. For more past programming, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

Early Modern Translation: Theory, History, Practice

Spring Conference, supported by a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
Translation was a primary mode of cultural transmission in early modern Europe. Over the last decade, the concept of translation has expanded to encompass not only linguistic translation, but what has come to be called cultural translation, and work on translation has greatly enriched early modern literary and historical studies. In response to these exciting developments, this conference will encompass early modern translation theory, competing vernaculars, the transmission of classical culture, translation and gender, translation and empire, the translation of sacred texts (including the reception of the Koran in Late Christendom), and two case studies focusing on Ovid and Cervantes.
Organizers: Karen Newman (Brown University) and Jane Tylus (New York University), with Kathleen Lynch (Folger Institute).
Speakers: Peter Burke (Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge) and Margaret Ferguson (University of California, Davis) will deliver plenary addresses. Additional speakers will include Anston Bosman (Amherst College), Thomas E. Burman (University of Tennessee at Knoxville), Gordon Braden (University of Virginia), A.E.B. Coldiron (Florida State University), Line Cottegnies (University of Paris, III), Barbara Fuchs (UCLA), Edith Grossman (New York, NY), Andrew Hadfield (University of Sussex), Heather James (University of Southern California), Ann Rosalind Jones (Smith College), László Kontler (Central European University, Budapest), Jacques Lezra (New York University), Carla Nappi (University of British Columbia), Naomi Tadmor (Lancaster University), and Michael Wyatt (Stanford University). Papers will address not only issues in the translation of specific texts, but also the translation of genres, traditions, and cultures within and beyond Europe.

What Was Political Thought in Sixteenth-Century England?

Spring Symposium
Although the Folger Institute Center for the History of British Political Thought has continually widened the scope of its inquiries, its larger framework has remained mostly verbal and textual. Center programs have mostly presumed that the subject-matter is rooted in discussion, exchange, and argument that have led to “thought” and justification—that is, to political thinking couched in formal genres and in which the possibility of dialogue and response remains central. This symposium will bring together several dozen scholars to investigate the category of the political in the period and to ask what forms of thinking (and acting, including social practices) can be coherently and productively encompassed within the rubric of “political thought.” Perhaps even more important is the question of how, if at all, sixteenth-century actors would have regarded the term “political thought.” Was there a variety of activities of reasoning and talking that they would have recognized as “political thought”? In what media would they have encountered political thinking, and in what arenas would they have engaged in such activities?
Session Leaders: This symposium is conceived as a series of conversations among all the participants, rather than a conference in the conventional sense. Paulina Kewes (Jesus College, Oxford), Eric Nelson (Harvard University), Aysha Pollnitz (Trinity College, Cambridge), Ethan Shagan (University of California, Berkeley), Kevin Sharpe (Queen Mary, University of London), and James Simpson (Harvard University) are among the session leaders who will start conversations on these and related questions.

In Praise of Scribes: Early Modern English Manuscript Culture

Late-Spring Seminar
This seminar will explore and raise questions about the nature of English manuscript culture from approximately 1550 to 1650. Topics to be discussed will include the impact that printing had on manuscript production; the types of documents, both public and private, that continued to be written by hand, by both men and women; the work of some individual scribes; the raison d’etre of manuscript circulation; matters of authorship; and the textual implications of all this for editors. Participants will use electronic and facsimile images of manuscripts in addition to select manuscripts from the Folger’s collections. Familiarity with secretary script is an advantage. Members of the seminar will browse together through selected handouts to discuss some palaeographical matters. Some attention will be paid to descriptive terminology for select scripts. Finally, time will be allowed for participants to report on the research projects they are undertaking themselves.
Director: Dr. Peter Beal, FBA, FSA, was for 25 years English Manuscript Expert at Sotheby’s, London. He is now Senior Research Fellow in the University of London, where he is building a database Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts 1450-1700 (CELM). His publications include Index of English Literary Manuscripts 1450-1700 (4 vols, 1980-93); In Praise of Scribes (1998); Elizabeth I and the Culture of Writing (co-edited, 2007); and A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology 1450-2000 (2008). He is co-founder and co-editor of English Manuscript Studies 1100-1700 published annually by the British Library.

The Making of Paradise Lost

Late-Spring Seminar
This seminar derives from the intersection of several methodologies—the history of the book, analytical bibliography, and historically informed literary criticism—and explores, as if biographically, the antecedents, conception, gestation, production, and the early life of Paradise Lost. It attempts to model early readers’ expectations of a retelling of a biblical story through a consideration of the works of du Bartas and Francis Quarles. It examines the process of composition as documented in the early lives of Milton and in the manuscript to Book One. It considers the conditions for the production and circulation of printed books in the immediate aftermath of the Great Fire of London; it explores the work of the Simmons printing house and the firm’s relationship with Milton; and it charts the businesses of the booksellers associated with each of the issues of the first edition, before considering the changes, in content, in format, in appearance and in distribution, between that and the second edition of 1674. It examines the marginal comments of early readers. The seminar concludes with a review of the later seventeenth-century editions as the work acquires its first illustrations and its earliest annotation.
Director: Thomas N. Corns is Professor of English at Bangor University, Wales. His recent publications include John Milton and the Manuscript of De Doctrina Christiana (2007) and John Milton: Life, Work, and Thought (2008, with Gordon Campbell). He is co-editing Paradise Lost with David Loewenstein for The Complete Works of John Milton, of which (with Gordon Campbell) he is general editor.

Researching the Archives

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: James Siemon is Professor of English at Boston University. In addition to numerous articles on sixteenth-century English drama, he is the author of Shakespearean Iconoclasm (1986) and Word Against Word: Shakespearean Utterance (2002), and editor of the New Mermaids edition of Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta (1994, 2009) and the Arden edition of Richard III (2009).
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).

Empire and Culture in the Early Modern English Caribbean

Fall Semester Seminar
In the early modern imagination, the Caribbean loomed as the most valuable and most dangerous place in the world. This seminar, exploring English-language writings about the Caribbean, charts the complicated vision of the region from the intrusion of the Tudor “sea dogs”—most famously Sir Francis Drake—to the failure of the Darien scheme at the end of the seventeenth century. Before Jamaica became the brutal sugar-producing behemoth it would be in the eighteenth century, the Caribbean was the site of varied English activity and the focus of increasing English attention. Claimed and largely controlled by Spain in the early-sixteenth century, the Caribbean arena witnessed the intrusion of the English mid-century, and a concerted program of imperial projection into the region thereafter. Settlement by soldiers and pirates from the 1620s brought a permanent English presence and the eventual creation of plantation economies, networks of trade, and increased knowledge of the region. This seminar considers a wide area of texts: from the accounts of English exploits through the geographies, natural histories, and economic tracts to the writings on emerging labor systems. Projects are welcome on such topics as theoretical underpinning and comparative approaches to empire; the problem of islands; gender; trade, commerce, and finance; and Cromwell’s Western Design.
Directors: Carla Gardina Pestana holds the W. E. Smith Chair in History at Miami University. Her most recent book is Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World (2009). Currently a Guggenheim Fellow, she is working on a history of the English conquest of Jamaica and a broader study of the imperial conflicts of the mid-seventeenth century that centered in the Caribbean.
David S. Shields is the McClintock Professor of Southern Letters of the University of South Carolina. His books range from Oracles of Empire: Poetry, Politics, and Commerce in British America, 1690-1750 (1990) to Material Culture in Anglo-America: Regional Identity and Urbanity in the Tidewater, Lowcountry, and Caribbean (2009). He has written extensively on transatlantic and hemispheric writing and has edited the journal Early American Literature.

Introduction to Early Modern English Paleography

Fall 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: Heather Wolfe is Curator of Manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She has written various essays on early modern manuscript culture, and 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).

Reassessing Henry VIII

Fall Workshop
The year 2009 saw numerous exhibitions in Britain and the United States commemorate the five-hundredth anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the English throne. Henry has long been one of the most famous kings of England, but he and his reign are currently experiencing a new level of public awareness (especially in the U.S.) thanks to recent popular novels and “The Tudors” television series. However, does the current public celebrity attached to Henry VIII obscure the actual historical significance of the king and his reign? What, indeed, is this historical significance? This workshop draws upon the fruits of 2009 and other recent work to take a fresh look at Henry VIII from a scholarly perspective. It seeks to reassess our understanding of Henry VIII in the light of new scholarship and to explore possible directions for future research. Key themes of the workshop will include important new work on the material culture of Henry’s reign (especially artworks and dress), new perspectives on the Henrician Reformation, biographical studies of the king himself, and the impact on scholarship and teaching of modern media images of Henry and his royal court. Several dozen scholars with research projects relevant to these themes will be admitted.
This workshop, sponsored by the Center for Shakespeare Studies, is scheduled in conjunction with two Folger events: the production of The Famous History of the Life of King Henry VIII and the exhibition Vivat Rex! Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Accession of Henry VIII.
Organizers: Paul E. J. Hammer (University of Colorado at Boulder) and Kathleen Lynch (Folger Institute).
Speakers: Thomas P. Campbell (Metropolitan Museum of Art) will deliver the keynote address. Invited session leaders include Susan Bordo (University of Kentucky), Susan Doran (Jesus College, Oxford), T. S. Freeman (Cambridge University), Steven Gunn (Merton College, Oxford), Maria Hayward (University of Southampton), Christopher Highley (The Ohio State University), Peter Marshall (University of Warwick), Barbara A. Mowat (Folger Shakespeare Library), Tania String (University of Bristol), and Susan Wabuda (Fordham University).

The History of the Stationers’ Company 1557–1710

Spring Semester Seminar
Serious interest in early modern English printed books will, at some point, lead scholars to the Stationers’ Company. It might be tracking down the “entrance” of a particular book in Edward Arber’s Transcript or the discovery that a printer was “freed” on a particular date or finding the Company’s name in the 1637 Star Chamber decree or the 1662 Licensing Act. This ubiquity is not surprising. The Stationers’ Company was a dominant force in the English book trade throughout the early modern period. With few exceptions, one could not be a successful printer or bookseller in post-1557 England without having some kind of relationship with the Company. Yet, despite the Company’s importance, there is no ready account that students and scholars can turn to in order to learn more: the only monograph history is fifty years old, while the relevant entry in the Oxford Companion to Literature is unchanged since the 1930s. Little wonder, then, that the Company and its records are frequently misunderstood. This seminar seeks, quite simply, to remedy these shortcomings. Focusing on a different aspect of the Company each week, it will explain how the Company operated on a day-to-day basis; the nature and reach of its powers and jurisdiction; its complex social, economic, and cultural roles; and its context within London and beyond. Participants will learn about the purpose of the Stationers’ Register, the significance of being a member of the Company, and the extent to which the Company acted as an agent of censorship. Along the way participants will encounter the Company’s saints, whips, and guns; its attitude to authors; its own 1640s civil war; its true role in the Glorious Revolution; and its corporate identity and voice. It will expose many of the myths associated with the Company and how much the “modern” view of its activities can be traced back to a single historical account written in 1720. Finally, the seminar will guide participants through the key records of the Company, in their manuscript and edited forms, from decoding Arber’s Transcript to reconstructing biographies through apprentice and freemen registers. There will be ample opportunity to develop individual research interests. In short, by answering the question, “What was the Stationers’ Company?,” this seminar aims to transform conceptions of the early modern English book trade, of the men and women who worked in that trade, and of the books they produced.
Director: Ian Gadd is a Senior Lecturer in English at Bath Spa University, UK. His D.Phil. (Oxon) focused on the Stationers’ Company in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He was Munby Fellow in Bibliography at the University of Cambridge, and a Research Editor for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. He is a General Editor of the Cambridge Works of Jonathan Swift, and a member of the Advisory Board for the New Oxford Shakespeare. He co-edited an edition of Swift’s Political Writings 1711-14 with Bertrand A. Goldgar (2008), is volume editor of the History of the Book in the West 1455-1700 (Ashgate, in press), and is also editing Volume 1 (1478-1780) of the History of Oxford University Press (Oxford University Press, 2012). In addition, he has published articles on London history and the English book trade. In 2009 he was elected Vice-President of the Society of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP). Since 1996, he has edited HoBo (a website dedicated to the ‘history of the book’ as a field of study), hosted by the University of Oxford.

Mastering Research Methods at the Folger

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 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 varieties of expertise found 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: Robert Matz is Associate Professor and Chair of English at George Mason University. He is the author of The World of Shakespeare’s Sonnets: An Introduction (2008) and Defending Literature in Early Modern England: Renaissance Literary Theory in Social Context (2000). He is currently preparing an edition of two early modern marriage manuals.

Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age

Spring Faculty Weekend Seminar
The focus of this weekend seminar was on the materials and practices involved in reading and/or writing in the early modern period (roughly 1400-1700). Twelve-to-sixteen participants focused on the process of intellectual work, from reading and note-taking to the composition and revision of texts, published or not. In each case participants examined what can be garnered from the evidence, including marginal annotations in printed books, surviving manuscripts, and finished texts. Paying attention to the materials, spaces, and people involved throughout the cycle of intellectual work, participants considered the following questions: Where did readers and authors read, take notes, or compose? What materials did they use for writing (including ink, quills, paper in various forms)? How did they organize their notes and preparatory materials? Did they work alone or rely on the help of others (friends, family members, or servants)? How did they use and cite their sources? Faculty with advanced research projects that usefully illuminate these topics are encouraged to apply; they will have the opportunity to discuss their projects within the seminar’s intellectual framework. One session was scheduled in the Werner Gundersheimer Conservation Lab for close examination of selected cases and discussion with the professional staff.
Director: Ann Blair is Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at Harvard University where she teaches courses in the history of the book, early modern intellectual and cultural history, and French history. Her publications include The Theater of Nature: Jean Bodin and Renaissance Science (1997) and Too Much To Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age (2010).

Shakespeare's Birthday Lecture: Recipes for Thought: Shakespeare and the Art of the Kitchen

Shakespeare's Birthday Lecture
This lecture was delivered on Monday, April 25, 2011. In All's Well That Ends Well, Shakespeare presents a heroine who uses a secret recipe to perform a miraculous feat. In this Shakespearean play and others, common domestic tasks like seasoning, preserving, and distilling pose knotty intellectual questions about art, nature, knowledge, and time. Wall celebrated Shakespeare's birthday by examining the world of recipe writing in early modern England in a lecture titled to show the unexpected ways that kitchen work presented forceful recipes for thought, both on and off the Shakespearean stage.

Ritual and Ceremony from Late-Medieval Europe to Early America

Summer NEH seminar
This five-week institute was directed by Claire Sponsler, Professor of English at the University of Iowa, and hosted by the Folger Shakespeare Library. This institute offers a comparative study of ritual and ceremony across related cultures from 1300 to 1700. It builds on anthropological theories of the ubiquitous role of ritual and ceremony and the impact of that work in performance studies. Testing assumptions about influence and exchange among national traditions and local contexts, it seeks a new understanding of the processes and effects of cultural hybridity and assimilation.
The distinguished international faculty includes: Ian Archer (Keble College, Oxford), Lawrence M. Bryant (California State University, Chico), Barbara Fuchs (UCLA), Gail McMurray Gibson (Davidson College), Bruce Holsinger (University of Virginia), Roslyn L. Knutson (University of Arkansas, Little Rock), Joseph Roach (Yale University), Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly (Exeter College, Oxford), Michael Wintroub (University of California Berkeley), Barbara Wisch (SUNY Cortland).