2020-2021 Folger Institute Scholarly Programs

This article lists the scholarly programming of the Folger Institute for the 2020–2021 academic year, which underwent significant changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more past programming, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

Researching the Archive

Joyce E. Chaplin and Julie Crawford
Dissertation Seminar
This program focused on the use of primary materials available for the study of the history, culture, society, and literature of early modern Britain, Europe, and the Atlantic World, broadly conceived. During the virtual sessions, participants explored a variety of printed and manuscript sources relevant to both English and History Ph.D. candidates. The goal throughout will be to foster interdisciplinary scholarship while considering broad methodological and theoretical problems relevant to current work in early modern studies. Preference will be given to applicants who have completed course work and preliminary exams; they should be preparing a prospectus or beginning to write chapters and be ready to make significant use of archival and special collections as part of their visits. Applicants should consult with their dissertation directors before applying to ensure that their work is at a stage that would benefit from the seminar, and their directors should certify that this is the case in their recommendation letters. Those whose dissertations are substantially complete will not be competitive applicants.
DirectorsJoyce E. Chaplin is the James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History at Harvard University. A former Fulbright Scholar and Guggenheim Fellow, she has published five monographs, one co-authored book, and two Norton Critical Editions. She did research for her second book, Subject Matter: Technology, the Body, and Science on the Anglo-American Frontier, 1500-1676 (2001), at the Folger. Julie Crawford is the Mark van Doren Professor of Humanities in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the author of Marvelous Protestantism (2004), Mediatrix (2014), and numerous essays on authors ranging from Shakespeare to Anne Clifford and on topics ranging from the history of reading to the history of sexuality. In 2016 she taught a Folger Seminar on Cavendish and Hutchinson, and she is currently completing a book manuscript entitled “Margaret Cavendish’s Political Career."

Food and the Book: 1300-1800

Organized by David B. GoldsteinAllen James Grieco, and Sarah Peters Kernan
Virtual Conference at the Newberry Library
Co-sponsored by the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library and the Folger Institute’s collaborative research project, Before ‘Farm to Table’: Early Modern Foodways and Cultures, a Mellon Foundation initiative at the Folger Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library
The growing, preparation, tasting, and eating of food are bodily phenomena. To gain access to them through the distances of history, we must turn to words and images. This interdisciplinary conference examined the book as a primary intersection for foodways throughout the early modern world. The language and imagery of food emerge in all manner of books, including recipe manuscripts, literature, historical documents, religious writings, medical treatises, and engravings, not to mention in marginal stains and other chance material encounters. The convened speakers explored how food interacts with books as physical objects as well as mental ones. They examined books as ways of studying food and its representations in historical perspective, especially those of marginalized and underprivileged people; and as instances of metaphorical food and sustenance in themselves. The conference also hosted collaborations between scholars, food writers, and chefs, resulting in cooking experiments and discussions of current food issues that helped reinvigorate questions about early modern cuisine for a contemporary world.
OrganizersDavid B. Goldstein is a co-director of the Before Farm to Table project and Associate Professor of English at York University in Toronto. His publications include Eating and Ethics in Shakespeare’s England (2013), which shared the Shakespeare’s Globe Book Award, and two co-edited essay collections—Culinary Shakespeare (with Amy Tigner, 2016) and Shakespeare and Hospitality (with Julia Reinhard Lupton, 2016). Allen J. Grieco is Senior Research Associate Emeritus at Villa I Tatti (The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies). He has published extensively on the cultural history of food in Italy from the 14th to the 16th centuries including a recent volume on Food, Social Politics and the Order of the World in Renaissance Italy (2019). He is both co-editor in chief of the journal Food & History (Brepols) and Series Editor of Food Culture, Food History (13th-19thcenturies) (Amsterdam University Press). Sarah Peters Kernan PhD is an independent culinary historian based in Chicago. Her research focuses on cookbooks and culinary activity in medieval and early modern England. She is an editor of The Recipes Project and a Corresponding Member of the journal Food & History. She regularly collaborates with The Newberry Library on teaching and digital learning projects and has also worked with organizations including The Met Cloisters and the Culinary Historians of Chicago.
This conference was conducted virtually in early October 2020. Those interested may access session recordings and other resources related to the conference here.

Neighborhood, Community, and Place in Early Modern London

Christopher Highley and Alan Farmer
Online Seminar in partnership with The Ohio State University
This interdisciplinary seminar invited scholars working on the metropolis of London from roughly 1450 through 1750 to reflect on existing scholarship and to explore how new approaches might enrich and deepen our understanding of key concepts like “neighborhood,” “community,” and “place.” Drawing on online resources like the Map of Early Modern London (MoEML), the seminar combined case studies of particular spaces and places—including parishes and streets, as well as bookstores, printing houses, company halls, prisons, and others suggested by participants—with discussions of methodology. The goal was to open up a number of theoretical questions with examples drawn from current research: What do literary and social historians mean by neighborhood and community? Are neighborhoods defined solely by official territorial subdivisions like parishes, precincts, and wards, or are they more elastic, improvised, imagined, and performed? And what is the relation between neighborhood and community in early modern London? Is the latter always tied to a particular place or is it a non-spatialized construct?
DirectorsChristopher Highley teaches in the English department and directs the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the Ohio State University.  He is finishing a book called Blackfriars: Theater, Church, and Neighborhood in Early Modern London, and leading a parish project for 'The Map of Early Modern London.' Alan B. Farmer is an Associate Professor of English at the Ohio State University. He has published extensively on the publication of early modern playbooks. He is the co-editor, with Adam Zucker, of Localizing Caroline Drama: Politics and Economics of the Early Modern English Stage, 1625–1642 (2006), and the co-creator, with Zachary Lesser, of DEEP: Database of Early English Playbooks. His current book project is on popularity in the early modern English book trade and includes an investigation of the cultural geography of bookselling in early modern London.
This online seminar was conducted in early October 2020. A bibliography and associated resources can be found here.

Shakespeare in Prisons

Peter HollandScott Jackson, and Curt Tofteland
Fall Conference at the University of Notre Dame
Building on three previous iterations, over the course of the 2020-2021 academic year, this conference gathered theatre arts practitioners, researchers, and scholars who are currently engaged with or interested in programs for incarcerated (and post-incarcerated) populations. Designed to stimulate discussion through speakers, performances, and workshop sessions offering case studies and best practices within the Shakespeare Behind Bars movement, this conference considers a number of questions: What is the nature of Shakespeare’s exploration of prisons, prisoners, and the post-incarcerated, and how might Shakespeare speak to the realities of prison life in the United States and the experiences of returning citizens today? What are the possibilities for academic research on this work and its implications for future directions in Shakespeare studies, and how might that research intersect with, for instance, work on gender and sexuality, disability, childhood, and educational practices and pedagogies? Scholars and practitioners who are interested in sharing their experiences or learning how one works with Shakespeare and incarcerated populations are welcome to attend.
OrganizersPeter Holland is McMeel Family Professor in Shakespeare Studies in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame. He was editor of Shakespeare Survey for 19 years and co-editor of the Oxford Shakespeare Topics and Great Shakespeareans seriesHis edition of Coriolanus for the Arden Shakespeare 3rd series appeared in 2013. He is a General Editor of the Arden Shakespeare 4th series and currently finishing a book on Shakespeare and ForgettingScott Jackson has served as the Mary Irene Ryan Family Executive Director of Shakespeare at Notre Dame since the position was created in 2007. A believer in the power of the theatre arts to effect positive social change, he is a co-founder of the Shakespeare in Prisons Network and teaches a weekly Shakespeare in performance course at the Westville Correctional Facility. Curt L. Tofteland is the Founder of the internationally acclaimed Shakespeare Behind Bars program, now in its 25th year of continuous operation. SBB is the subject of award-winning documentary by Philomath Films. Curt was the Producing Artistic Director of Kentucky Shakespeare Festival from 1989-2008. During his twenty-year tenure, he produced fifty Shakespeare productions, directed twenty-five, and acted in eight. As a professional director and an Equity actor, he has 200+ professional productions to his credit. Additionally, he has presented 400+ performances of his one man show Shakespeare’s Clownes: A Foole’s Guide to Shakespeare.
Schedule: This virtual program began on 9 November 2020 with a series of keynotes, panels, and community discussions. More information is available here.

New Research and Performance Directions in Premodern Disability Studies

Allison P. Hobgood and Sheila T. Cavanagh
Online Spring Weekend Seminar
Centering intersectional approaches, public humanities, and activist performance, this virtual seminar will bring together teacher-scholars and practitioners working on disability studies in the premodern period. It will build on established work in medieval and early modern disability studies to consider new avenues of inquiry, cultural histories, performative possibilities, and theoretical modalities. What do practitioners learn when premodern disability studies intersects with public activism, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and provocative disability performance? How do we use cultural history and stories of disability from the past as modes of contemporary consciousness raising? What can we discover about the embodied materiality of more theoretical interventions when exploring how disabled actors and audiences, in the past and present, engage with premodern drama and literature? In collaboration with Emory University and Georgia Humanities, participants in this virtual seminar will have opportunities to learn from leading experts in disability and performance studies and dynamically dialogue as they investigate how scholars, writers, texts, performers, and performances have—then and now—understood, experienced, and responded to bodymind difference.
DirectorsAllison P. Hobgood is Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies at Willamette University. Her publications include Recovering Disability in Early Modern England (2013), a special issue of Pedagogy (2015) on disability pedagogies, and essays in Teaching Social Justice Through Shakespeare (2019), The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Disability (2017), and Disability, Health, and Happiness in the Shakespearean Body (2015). Sheila T. Cavanagh is Professor of English at Emory University and Director of the World Shakespeare Project. She served as Fulbright Global Shakespeare Centre Distinguished Chair and as Director of Emory’s Year of Shakespeare. Author of books on Spenser and Lady Mary Wroth, she has published widely on international Shakespeare, pedagogy; and accessibility in Shakespearean teaching and performance.

Reimagining Andrew Marvell: The Poet at 400

Matthew Augustine and Giulio Pertile
Online Spring Weekend Colloquium
This weekend colloquium brought together an international team of scholars to celebrate the approaching quatercentenary of Andrew Marvell’s birth. Its aims were twofold: to chart the advances in Marvell scholarship since the publication of landmark editions of Marvell’s poetry and prose at the start of the millennium; and to inaugurate a new century of Marvell studies, of fresh approaches and new contexts. Perhaps the most important contribution to the last anniversary conference on Marvell, in 1978, was made by Christopher Hill, who insisted on seeing politics as essential to Marvell’s writing. In this colloquium, we mean to build on the superb historical scholarship that has emerged since then by seeking an even broader, more elastic concept of the political. At the same time, in asking what comes “after” politics, this colloquium also calls for renewed attention to Marvell’s verse in the context of recent work on the relationship between literature and the environment, affect, and cognition. The strong tradition of editing and archival research which surrounds Marvell serves to remind us that all such inquiry is conditioned by the materiality of reading, writing, and reception.
Organizers: Matthew Augustine and Giulio Pertile are Senior Lecturer and Lecturer, respectively, in the School of English at the University of St Andrews.
Invited speakers: Martin Dzelzainis (University of Leicester); Kathleen Lynch (Folger Institute); James Loxley (University of Edinburgh); Nicholas McDowell (University of Exeter); Victoria Moul (University College London); David Norbrook (University of Oxford); Tessie Prakas (Scripps College); Joanna Picciotto (University of California, Berkeley); Diane Purkiss (University of Oxford); Jacqueline Rose (University of St Andrews); Nigel Smith (Princeton University); Noël Sugimura (University of Oxford); Gordon Teskey (Harvard University); Esther van Raamsdonk (Queen Mary University of London); Nicholas von Maltzahn (University of Ottawa); and Steven N. Zwicker (Washington University, St Louis). The programme can be found here.

Introduction to English Paleography

Heather Wolfe
Online Weeklong Skills Course
This weeklong course provides an intensive introduction to handwriting in early modern England, with a particular emphasis on the English secretary hand of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Working from digitized manuscripts in the Folger collection and manuscripts from the Center for Renaissance Studies, up to fifteen participants will be trained in the accurate reading and transcription of secretary, italic, and mixed hands. They will also experiment with contemporary writing materials (quills, iron gall ink, and paper); learn the terminology for describing and comparing letterforms; and become skillful decipherers of abbreviations, numbers, and dates. All transcriptions made by participants will become part of the Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO) corpus.
DirectorHeather Wolfe is Curator of Manuscripts and Associate Librarian of Audience Development at the Folger Shakespeare Library, co-director of the multi-year research project Before 'Farm to Table': Early Modern Foodways and Cultures, and principal investigator of Early Modern Manuscripts Online. Author of numerous articles on early modern manuscripts, she has edited The Literary Career and Legacy of Elizabeth Cary, 1613–1680 (2007), The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608: A Facsimile Edition of Folger Shakespeare Library MS V.b.232 (2007), Letterwriting in Renaissance England (2004) (with Alan Stewart), and Elizabeth Cary, Lady Falkland: Life and Letters (2001). Her current research explores the social circulation of writing paper and blank books and Shakespeare’s coat of arms. 

An Orientation to Research Methods and Agendas

Marcy NorthClaire M. L. Bourne, and Whitney Trettien
Online Summer Intensive Skills Course
The best research is based on inquiry and allows for serendipity. A scholar needs to sharpen research questions and search skills simultaneously and with sensitivity to the ways questions and sources affect each other. The available evidence may invite a new thesis, require a revised approach, or even suggest a new field of exploration. This intensive week was not designed to advance participants’ individual research projects. Rather, it aimed to cultivate the participants’ curiosity about primary resources by using exercises that engage their research interests. It was offered to help early-stage graduate students develop a set of research-oriented literacies as they explore Penn State’s special collections virtually in ways that will be useful for navigating other collections. With the guidance of visiting faculty and curatorial staff from the Folger and Penn State Libraries, two dozen participants examined bibliographical tools and their logics, honed their early modern book description skills, learned best practices for organizing and working with digital images, and improved their understanding of the cultural and technological histories of texts. Participants were able to ask reflexive questions about the nature of primary sources, the collections that house them, and the tools whereby one can access them.
OrganizersMarcy North is Associate Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University and author of The Anonymous Renaissance and numerous articles on early print, manuscript, and women’s writings. She has directed a previous Folger seminar and participated in the Folger's Teaching Paleography and Advanced Paleography workshops. She is finishing a book on the intersection of labor and taste in the production of post-print manuscripts. Claire M. L. Bourne is Assistant Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of Typographies of Performance in Early Modern England (forthcoming), which was supported by a long-term Folger fellowship, and is currently editing 1 Henry the Sixth for the Arden Shakespeare (4th series). Whitney Trettien teaches digital humanities and book history at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is Assistant Professor of English. She is the author of Cut/Copy/Paste, a hybrid monograph on digital book history currently being staged on Manifold Scholarship through University of Minnesota Press.