Puzzling Evidence: Literature and Histories (colloquium)

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

This was a late-afternoon colloquium held from 2000 to 2001 and led by David Scott Kastan and Peter Lake.

Through the lenses of its participants' work, this year-long colloquium explored the intersections of interests and procedures of the various disciplines engaging the world of early modern England. Sessions focused most immediately upon the particular papers of the participants but also were occasions for consideration of the differences among the disciplines themselves, mainly in terms of their understanding of the category of evidence. The early modern period was defined as "early" modern in large part by the emergence of the category of evidence in fields as diverse as law, science, theology, and philosophy. The question of what counts as evidence was therefore central to the intellectual history of the period; it has also become central to the concerns of the disciplines that study it by virtue of the evidence they consider as much as by the methodologies they deploy. What counts as evidence? What are the protocols for handling different kinds of evidence-and are they transferable or even comparable? Our effort to grapple with these questions not only clarified crucial aspects of the period itself but was arguably the single most important effort of any disciplinary, interdisciplinary, counter-disciplinary, or transdisciplinary dialogue.

Directors: David Scott Kastan is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is a General Editor of the Arden Shakespeare, and is the author of Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time (1982) and Shakespeare after Theory (1999). He has edited A Companion to Shakespeare (1999) and coedited both A New History of Early English Drama (1997) and Staging the Renaissance: Reinterpretations of Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama (1991).

Peter Lake is Professor of History at Princeton University. He is the author of Moderate Puritans and the Elizabethan Church (1982) and Anglicans and Puritans? Presbyterianism and English Conformist Thought from Whitgift to Hooker (1988). With Maria Dowling, he edited Protestantism and the National Church in Sixteenth Century England (1987); and, with Kevin Sharpe, he edited Culture and Politics in Early Stuart England (1994).