The Making of Shakespeare(s) (seminar)

For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive. For more past programming from the Center for Shakespeare Studies, please see the article Center for Shakespeare Studies program archive.

This was a spring 2004 semester seminar.

Recent scholarship has begun to explore how Shakespeare became "the Bard," questioning the political stakes involved in the creation of this icon and the evolution of the icon into an institution. But the time has come to ask more pressing questions: For example, how did that icon, in specific historical contexts, come to signify a racially inflected idea of Englishness as Anglo-Saxon? What other versions of Shakespeare have been marshaled to challenge the icon and the institution? This seminar, sponsored by the Center for Shakespeare Studies, entered the debate about the construction of Shakespeare(s) by attending to such contexts as writing and nationhood, discourses of race, the literary and theatrical marketplace, authorship, intellectual property, and the formation of the English canon. Taking as our starting point the poet's public image as constructed in the First Folio, and moving towards the paradoxes of American bardolatry in the nineteenth century as a conclusion, we focused on a range of specific moments and media to explore the sociopolitical significations of various Shakespeare(s). The seminar drew on the Folger's archives and on participants' interests; participants' current research, however, did not need to pertain to the above topics.

Director: Coppélia Kahn is Professor of English at Brown University. She is the author of Roman Shakespeare: Warriors, Wounds, and Women (1997) and Man's Estate: Masculine Identity in Shakespeare (1981), among other works. Her edition of The Roaring Girl is forthcoming as part of the Oxford Complete Works of Thomas Middleton.