Constructing the Early Modern (seminar)

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

This was a fall 1997 semester seminar led by Marion Trousdale, Associate Professor of English at the University of Maryland at College Park. Speakers included Peter Stallybrass (University of Pennsylvania) and Margreta de Grazia (University of Pennsylvania).

Texts, like physical bodies, corporations, court practices, and cultural concepts, had overlapping jurisdictions in early modern England. This seminar examined the material traces of the jurisdictions in both print and manuscript cultures in order to interrogate current theoretical narratives about the period. For instance, the seminar studied in particular at the material practices and competing discourses of playing, authoring, marketing, governing, and self-representation. The seminar considered the commodification of objects and of dress in the court and in the theatre as differing modes of cultural construction. Finally, the seminar also examined the means by which this material culture is currently made legible. After close scrutiny of extant documents of the Elizabethan court and stage, participants observed the contemporary performances in early London theatres of at least three plays—Bartholomew Fair, Eastward Ho, and Coriolanus—in an attempt to redefine the boundaries within which these plays and the culture that produced them are perceived.