2012–2013 Folger Institute Scholarly Programs

This article stub lists the programming of the Folger Institute for the 2012-2013 academic year. For more past programming, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

Early Modern Cities in Comparative Perspective

Late September Conference
How does the space of a city function as the figure or ground of scholarship, and what difference does it make? Folger Institute faculty weekend seminars on early modern cities have fostered scholarly investigations of the ways conceptualizations of space are changing the focus in research and teaching. This conference will draw on localized expertise for comparative discussion. Invited speakers will address assertions of exceptionalism and claims to a classical heritage; identify features and causes of notions of “organic” cultures; trace the routes of global commerce and cultural encounter; and account for agents of growth and decline.
Complementing the Folger exhibition on “Open City: London, 1500-1700,” the conference begins with a case study of London and its scientific communities by Deborah E. Harkness (University of Southern California). A plenary lecture will anchor each of the four fields of investigation: Public ceremony and empire with Linda A. Curcio-Nagy (University of Nevada, Reno); Intellectual communities and the print trade with Anthony Grafton (Princeton University); Trade and the dynamics of growth and decline with Jan de Vries (University of California at Berkeley); and Cultural intermediaries and go-betweens with E. Natalie Rothman (University of Toronto). Counter examples to the plenaries were given by Barbara Wisch, B. Deniz Calis-Kural, Leah Chang, Matthew Brown, Bernadette Andrea, Christopher C. Ebert, Florence C. Hsia, and Faith E. Beasley.
Organizers: Patricia Fortini Brown (Princeton University), Palmira Brummett (Brown University), Kathleen Lynch (The Folger Institute), Karen Newman (Brown University), Lena Cowen Orlin (Georgetown University), and Mariët Westermann (The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation).
Schedule: Thursday evening through Saturday afternoon, 27 through 29 September 2012.

Researching the Archive

Year-Long Dissertation Seminar
Designed for doctoral candidates in History and English at work on their dissertations, this monthly seminar will address the scholarly issues raised by the projects of its participants and by the kinds of archival material under investigation. It will encourage participants to consider their projects in the context of broad methodological and theoretical problems in early modern studies, especially in collaborative and interdisciplinary scholarship. It will scrutinize the evidentiary use of primary sources, whether those at the Folger Shakespeare Library or available online. 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. The grant-in-aid allows for an average of two nights’ stay per session.
Directors: Carole Levin is Willa Cather Professor of History and Director of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program at the University of Nebraska. She is the author of a number of books including The Heart and Stomach of a King; The Reign of Elizabeth I, Dreaming the English Renaissance; and (with John Watkins) Shakespeare’s Foreign Worlds. She has held long-term fellowships at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Newberry Library and was co-founder and past president of the Queen Elizabeth I Society. She was the Senior Historical Consultant of the Elizabeth I: Ruler and Legend exhibit at the Newberry Library in 2003 and the co-curator of the exhibit, To Sleep Perchance to Dream, at the Folger Shakespeare Library in 2009.
Alan Stewart is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and International Director of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters in London. He is the author of several books, including Close Readers: Humanism and Sodomy in Early Modern England (1997), Letterwriting in Renaissance England (with Heather Wolfe, 2004), Shakespeare’s Letters (2008), and biographies of Francis Bacon (with Lisa Jardine, 1998), Philip Sidney (2000), and James VI and I (2003). He is editor of Bacon’s Early Writings, 1584-1596 for the Oxford Francis Bacon (forthcoming), and co-general editor, with Garrett Sullivan, of the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of English Renaissance Literature (2012). He is now working on French Shakespeare, a study of the impact of French politics on England in the 1590s.

Sexuality, Theory, History, Drama

Fall Semester Seminar
This seminar will explore and expand the repertoire of scholarly methods for reading sexuality in early modern drama, with an eye to current debates and future directions for the field. Participants will consider how different theoretical and historical approaches have produced varying accounts of sexuality as an object of inquiry; they will engage various reading strategies for elucidating sexual meaning in dramatic texts; and they will reflect critically on questions of evidence, affect, gender, subjectivity, language, genre, theatricality, textual editing, and periodization. The following kinds of questions will guide the discussion: What are the consequences of emphasizing historical alterity, as opposed to historical continuity, in the study of sexuality? Are concepts such as sexual identity, subjectivity, or community useful in analyzing early modern modes of eroticism? How might the field move beyond familiar sexual paradigms and taxonomies (i.e., homoeroticism/heteroeroticism) to access alternative forms of erotic knowledge, practice, and relationality in early modern culture? How do particular textual and performative elements (i.e., puns, soliloquies, gestures, costumes, voices, metatheatrical moments, offstage actions) convey or confound sexual meaning? To address these and additional matters raised by their research interests, participants will read a range of early modern dramatic and non-dramatic texts drawn from the Folger’s collections; plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, Middleton, and Beaumont and Fletcher will be included on the reading list.
Director: Mario DiGangi is Professor of English at Lehman College and The Graduate Center, CUNY, where he serves as Executive Officer of the Ph.D. Program in English. He is the author of The Homoerotics of Early Modern Drama (1997) and Sexual Types: Embodiment, Agency, and Dramatic Character from Shakespeare to Shirley (2011). He is currently working on a book exploring affective politics in the Elizabethan history play.

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.
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)

Teaching Book History

December Workshop
Drawing on the resources of one of the world’s finest collections of early modern books, the Folger Institute and the Folger Undergraduate Program will host a three-day workshop devoted to teaching book history to undergraduates. It will introduce both strategies and tools for teaching the field in a variety of contexts (as a stand-alone course, as part of an introductory survey, as a research seminar). It will serve as a platform for debating how print culture, physical bibliography, and textual studies might best be integrated into a curriculum; what digital humanities may offer book historians; and how faculty and librarians can teach book history without access to a large collection of rare materials. The workshop will gather up to forty participants for a close examination of the assumptions, materials, methods, and objectives of those courses, and they will have multiple opportunities to discuss their own teaching practices.
Speakers include: A.E.B. Coldiron (Florida State University), Ian Gadd (Bath Spa University), Matthew Kirschenbaum (University of Maryland), Jason Peacey (University College London), and Peter Stallybrass (University of Pennsylvania).
Organizers: Kathleen Lynch (The Folger Institute), Sarah Werner (The Folger Undergraduate Program), and Owen Williams (The Folger Institute).

Law as Politics in England and the Empire, ca. 1600-1830

Spring Semester Seminar
In part because English law operated in multiple forms—statute and common law, equity and civil law— it proved highly malleable as it interacted with new circumstances around the globe. New forms of property arose in North America and the Caribbean. In Tangier, English law encountered Portuguese law, and Jewish or Muslim litigants sued Christians. In Bengal, native courts persisted alongside English ones. Hybrid legal forms arose, generating novel social and political practices and ideas. Among other issues, this seminar will consider the legal origins and constitutional forms of different colonies, plantations, and other imperial outposts. How did metropolitan and colonial legislation restrict or expand the work of courts and judges? What were the different legal statuses of Britons and non-Britons? Participants will examine the distinct kinds of labor and will also explore varieties of property and the impact on English law of practices outside England. The seminar will mix readings in sources and recent scholarship with discussion of seminar members’ projects on these and related themes. Sponsored by the Center for the History of British Political Thought, it is intended for scholars of literature and political thought as well as history, with or without extensive experience in legal history.
Director: Paul Halliday is Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Habeas Corpus: From England to Empire (2010), among other works. His current projects include an examination of the material forms of judicial knowledge and authority in the eighteenth century and the role of judges in making the British Empire from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth.

An Introduction to Research Methods at the Folger

Spring Semester Seminar
This seminar will illustrate and exemplify graduate-level work in the humanities, surveying 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 various forms of historiography (theatrical, cultural, social, and political), the book as a material object, the visual analysis of images, manuscript studies, and editorial practice. 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: Thomas Fulton is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University, where he teaches literature and the history of the book. His work on Erasmus, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton and other medieval and early modern writers has appeared in several journals and edited collections. He is the author of Historical Milton: Manuscript, Print, and Political Culture in Revolutionary England (2010), and co-editor (with Ann Baynes Coiro) of Rethinking Historicism from Shakespeare to Milton (2012).

Acquiring Education: Early Modern Women's Pedagogies

Spring Faculty Weekend Seminar
Lucy Hutchinson recalled that as a seven-year-old she had “at one time eight tutors in several qualities, languages, music, dancing, writing, and needlework; but my genius was quite averse from all but my book.” This seems a paradox as, on the one hand, we have numerous early modern treatises declaring that education was harmful for women, but we also have individual memoirs and historical biographies that suggest some early modern women were extraordinarily well educated. A gulf seems to lie between the writing ladies who loved Latin and the presumably silent, illiterate housewives of the prescriptive treatises. What do we make of the prayers, mediations, account books, recipe books, poems, and letters we have from otherwise unknown women? This seminar will explore two large topics: what did it mean to be an “educated” woman in the early modern period and how did girls and adult women acquire “education”? Such large umbrella topics invite research projects from faculty that pursue the changing definitions of literacy, the function of case studies in creating women’s literary history, the forms of education outside of the “three Rs,” and what means might be used to retrieve information about early modern women and their various educations.
Director: Margaret J.M. Ezell is Distinguished Professor of English and holder of the Sara and John Lindsey Chair of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University. Author of The Patriarch’s Wife: Literary Evidence and the History of the Family (1987) and Writing Women’s Literary History (1996), she is currently completing the volume covering 1645-1714 for the Oxford English Literary History series and editing the poems of Anne Killigrew.

Contestations of Religion and Natural History in the Atlantic World

Late-Spring Seminar
This seminar will proceed from the assumption that the writing of natural history is as old as humanity itself. All peoples, in all times, have had to explain their own origins both as human beings and upholders of civil order, and the origins and diversity of plants and animals that were available to them but not necessarily to other peoples. The so-called “discovery” of the new world proved profoundly challenging for traditional European ways of thinking. It revealed the existence of diverse peoples, civilizations, and commodities for which European intellectual and religious systems had made no previous provision. This seminar will commence with the explanations offered by Spanish scientists and natural historians for these unexpected discoveries. It will then consider how Protestant authors—especially those from countries like England and France that were usually politically opposed to Spain—revisited and sought fresh explanations for the same questions and phenomena that had been resolved by the Spanish authors, if only to challenge their conclusions from a different religious perspective. The seminar will be devoted particularly to natural history texts produced by English and French authors and will range from the sixteenth through the early eighteenth centuries.
Director: Nicholas Canny is Professor Emeritus of History at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Past President of the Royal Irish Academy, he currently serves on the European Research Council. Author of many books, his most recent is Making Ireland British, 1580-1650 (2001). He has co-edited (with Philip Morgan) The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World, 1450-1850 (2011). His current work compares English and French writing on the natural history of the Atlantic World, 1550-1720.

The Orality/Literacy Heuristic

Late-Spring Faculty Weekend Seminar
Recent decades have witnessed powerful revisionary challenges to scholarly models of “orality and literacy.” Whereas anthropologists and media ecologists such as Jack Goody and Walter Ong theorized profound differences between oral and literate societies and linked reading and writing with progress, civilization, and even rational thinking, more recent scholarship strives to distinguish claims for the consequences of literacy from its real significance for particular social groups and attempts to move beyond binary thinking in conceptualizing human communication. Yet many of these debates lack a strong historical dimension; furthermore, “displacement” models of human communication (the idea that one media form displaces, rather than transforms another), though widely acknowledged as problematic, have themselves still not been thoroughly displaced. This seminar will allow an interdisciplinary group of up to sixteen scholars to examine the legacy of the “orality/literacy” rubric and its continuing implications for research in the early modern humanities. Faculty with research projects that advance these debates are encouraged to apply. While participants will have the opportunity to share their projects with the group, the seminar’s focus will be addressing the “orality/literacy heuristic” itself—its past, present, and future–and shaping the field of study that this profoundly influential cultural narrative has generated.
Directors: Adam Fox is Reader in History at the University of Edinburgh. He is author of Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500-1700 (2000) and co-editor (with Daniel Woolf) of The Spoken Word: Oral Culture in Britain 1500-1850 (2002).
Paula McDowell is Associate Professor of English at New York University. She is the author of The Women of Grub Street: Press, Politics, and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace, 1678-1730 (1998) and Elinor James: Printed Writings (2005) and is currently completing a book titled Fugitive Voices: Print Commerce and the Invention of the Oral in Eighteenth-Century Britain