Accessorizing the Renaissance (seminar)

For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a spring 2006 semester seminar led by Joseph Loewenstein.

The objects of this seminar’s investigations were the small objects, ornaments, and accessories of early modern personhood: watches, seals, spectacles, snuffboxes, smelling boxes, gloves, passports, purses, handkerchiefs, fans, feathers, miniatures, and the like. The seminar especially aimed to situate within this miscellany such special apparatuses as writing tablets, letters, and small-format books. We examined the symbolic freight of these objects and their contribution to the material history of inwardness. Participants considered examples from the collections of the Folger Library and other Washington-area museums; their own research projects recovered other objects for case study. We attended to the work of archaeologists, art and costume historians, and of such literary scholars as seek to understand the personal effects of these personal effects.

Director: Joseph Loewenstein, Professor of English at Washington University, is the author of The Author’s Due: Printing and the Prehistory of Copyright (2002), Jonson and Possessive Authorship (2002), and Responsive Readings (1984). He is a contributing editor of the New Cambridge Ben Jonson and a general editor of the forthcoming Oxford Collected Works of Edmund Spenser.