Comus: A Workshop

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

This was a spring weekend workshop held from March 23 to March 24, 2001. Stephen Orgel (Stanford University) will present a pre-performance lecture on Friday and return on Saturday to frame the themes of the workshop. Additional workshop and discussion leaders included Sharon Achinstein (University of Maryland), Tom Bishop (Case Western Reserve University), Ross Duffin (Case Western Reserve University), Cynthia Herrup (Duke University), Skiles Howard (Rutgers University), David Norbrook (University of Maryland), Thomas P. Roche (Princeton University), and Lauren Shohet (Villanova University).

This Saturday workshop was coordinated with a Friday evening concert performance of A Masque at Ludlow by the Folger Consort. Familiarly known as Comus, the masque combined verse by John Milton and music by Henry Lawes for its original performance in 1634 to celebrate the Earl of Bridgewater's installation as Lord President of the Council of Wales. Performers joined scholars in investigating the protean forms and negotiations of this most aristocratic and occasional of entertainments. Speakers addressed such topics as this provincial performance's commentary on, and dialogue with, more familiar forms of courtly entertainment; the masque's normalizing prescriptions for women, the aristocracy, and the religious reformer; the semiotics of Lawes' work and its relationship to Milton's larger projects; and the politics of multiple textualities and competing modes of country and courtly dance.