Early Modern Books and Readers (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 spring 2005 semester Masters' seminar.

Designed to acquaint Masters’-level students with archival research at the Folger Library, this seminar focused on the material forms of texts produced and read in England between 1475 and 1700. Drawing on examples from the Folger’s rich collections, participants studied the variety of manuscripts and track the development of printed books during this period. A central preoccupation of the course was the evidence in early modern books about the production, circulation, consumption, and interpretation of texts. The class examined the nature of this evidence and its role in contemporary critical and historicist scholarly practice. Attention to emerging notions of authorship, widening circles of literacy, and continuities between print and manuscript culture further organized class discussions. Classwork introduced participants to paleography and bibliographical description, while readings in literary theory and editorial practice framed discussions. An introduction to traditional and electronic tools for archival research included an examination of the ways in which these systems limit research questions and answers. Students undertook research projects using primary materials at the Library and discussed their findings, as well as their interpretations, with fellow participants.

Director: Heidi Brayman Hackel is Assistant Professor of English at Oregon State University, and the author of Reading Material in Early Modern England: Print, Gender, and Literacy (forthcoming 2004) as well as several articles on early modern readers, literacy, and libraries.