The Early Modern Book (seminar)
Drawing on the collections and resources of the Folger Shakespeare Library, this introductory seminar for Master's students surveyed the textual culture of the early modern period and explored the methodological and material issues involved in working with the books it has produced. Through historical overviews and detailed case studies, the seminar studied the ways in which texts moved from writers to readers in the transitional centuries following the invention of printing. It aimed to develop students' skills of deciphering, describing, and analyzing texts, and each student followed a chosen work through a series of research and writing assignments. Readings focused on English literature, but discussions and research brought other cultures and disciplines into play.
This seminar was designed to introduce Master's students to useful skills, sources, and concepts for advanced work with the texts of the early modern period (ca. 1475–1700). The seminar focused primarily on English literature, though the readings and discussions brought other cultures and disciplines into play. Combining historical overviews and detailed case studies, the seminar brought together bibliographical scholarship, literary theory, and editorial practice. It aimed to develop students' skills of deciphering, describing, and analyzing early modern texts. It surveyed the conditions of textual transmission—from writing to reading—in the transitional centuries following the invention of printing. But it also was concerned with the implications of these conditions for the ways that the texts of the past are read and written through critical studies and editions.
Director: William H. Sherman is Associate Professor of English and Director of the English Honors Program at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of John Dee: The Politics of Reading and Writing in the English Renaissance (1995).