1999–2000 Folger Institute Scholarly Programs
Reading the Early Modern Passions
- A 1999–2000 Mellon Weekend Seminar: Issues in Interpretation
Shakespeare's plays seem most accessible and immediate to student readers when the characters describe emotions-their own and others'. Shakespeare himself is popularly accorded exceptional-if not unique-perspicacity into the range of human feelings even though his knowledge about the emotions depends on a physiological and psychological paradigm we now regard as inaccurate. As scholars from such disparate disciplines as cognitive science, cultural anthropology, and literary history are well aware, the question of the universality and historicity of emotion remains an open one. This Center for Shakespeare Studies seminar is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. With visiting lecturers from anthropology, literature, art history, and music, it will investigate the central issues and controversies facing an historical epistemology of the early modern passions. The first session will lay out the historical and theoretical terrain by emphasizing different taxonomies of the passions from classical and patristic to contemporary theory. This comparative examination will be tested out in the second session against a close reading of a set of early modern literary texts. These will be chosen in part on the basis of the selected participants' own research interests, but will include such works as Hamlet and Othello along with Montaigne's Essais, Spenser's Faerie Queene, and Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. The third session will move beyond verbal expression of emotions to look at early modern visual representations. The fourth weekend will examine musical theories and expressions of the passions, and will conclude, festively, with a related musical program of early music by the Folger Consort.
- Visiting Faculty in Order of Appearance: Steven Mullaney (English, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor) and Catherine Lutz (Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill); William I. Miller (Law, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor); Zirka Z. Filipczak (Art History, Williams College); and Gary Tomlinson (Musicology, University of Pennsylvania).
- Director: Gail Kern Paster is Professor of English at George Washington Universityand, since January 1998, Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly. Her scholarly publications include The Idea of the City in the Age of Shakespeare (1986), The Body Embarrassed: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England (1993), and, with Skiles Howard, "A Midsummer Night's Dream": Texts and Contexts (1998).
Divine Art/Infernal Machine: Exploring Attitudes toward Printing in the Age of the Hand Press
- A Fall 1999 Semester-Length Seminar
Keeping in mind current speculation about present day communications technologies, this seminar will explore earlier reactions (positive and negative) to the use of the printing press. It will survey objections to the propagation of error, the dissemination of heresy, the output of trash as well as the celebration of the advancement of learning and the spread of the Gospel. Mythical representations of Gutenberg, Fust, Caxton et al. and fictions pertaining to good authors/bad booksellers will be taken into account. Secondary literature, such as recent debates about the "stigma of print" thesis, will be sampled, but the main emphasis will be on using the Folger collections to look over a wide range of views expressed by different groups in diverse regions over the course of several centuries. Selection of materials will depend, in part, on the special interests of participants.
- Director: Elizabeth Eisenstein is Emerita Professor of History at the University of Michigan. She is the author of the seminal The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early Modern Europe (1979) and Grub Street Abroad: Aspects of the French Cosmopolitan Press from the Age of Louis XIV to the French Revolution (1992).
Thinking about Poetic Genres in the Early Modern Period
- A Fall 1999 Semester-Length Seminar
- The body of discourse produced in Italy in the second half of the sixteenth century that defined and argued about ancient as well as modern genres was unprecedented in Western poetics. How were poetic genres defined beforehand? What role did the newly recovered Poetics of Aristotle play in the development of Italian genre theory? Why did this theorizing occur? What needs did it meet? How did it relate to contemporary poetic practice? The first half of the seminar will address these questions in the course of reading Aristotle's Poetics, G. B. Giraldi's treatises on tragedy and on chivalric romance, and Torquato Tasso's discourses on heroic poetry. Cultural politics were always part of generic codification, especially when new genres entered or sought legitimacy in an existing poetic system. The second half of the seminar will begin by considering Guarini's theory of tragicomedy in the context of such politics. Then, in the last sessions, we will assess the impact of Italian theory on French and English thinking about genre in the seventeenth century, focusing on Corneille's and Dryden's writings on the theater. Given that working poets produced all the discourse about genre examined in this seminar, participants will be encouraged to familiarize themselves with some of their poetic practice and its relation to the theory. Virtually all (or significant parts) of the texts assigned will also be available in English translation.
- Director: Daniel Javitch is Professor of Comparative Literature at New York University. Associate Editor of Renaissance Quarterly, he is the author of Proclaiming a Classic: the Canonization of "Orlando Furioso" (1991); Poetry and Courtliness in Renaissance England (1978); and numerous articles on genre theory in the sixteenth century.
Domestic Servants and Apprentices in Eighteenth-Century English Literature and Social History
- A Fall 1999 Semester-Length Seminar
- This seminar will examine the cultural politics of domestic service and apprenticeship in the period 1700 to 1830. Both institutions-which have considerable and increasing overlap over the course of this period-were central to important struggles and conflicts in British class formation and relations. Both institutions underwent rather troubling changes over the course of the long eighteenth century, and both were the subject of considerable public attention from philanthropic reformers, educators, and theorists and practitioners of criminal justice. The theoretical focus of the seminar will be on how popular representations of servants and apprentices are figured in terms of gender, sexuality, and race. Its working hypothesis is that these terms of difference are important to how class differences-and, often, conflicts-are both expressed and "managed" in culture. The seminar's readings will include writings by philanthropic "projectors" such as Jonas Hanway and Sarah Trimmer, "conduct" and instructional literature for servants, and texts having to do with criminality, such as popular biography and pamphlets concerning notorious criminal cases. Participants will also read works of literary imagination such as Lillo's The London Merchant and William Godwin's Caleb Williams. Visual representations of servants, as in Hogarth's popular prints, will also serve as resources. While most of the reading will be primary materials, the seminar will also seek to situate those materials in relation to cultural and social histories of service and apprenticeship in the period.
- Director: Kristina Straub is Associate Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University. She is the author of Sexual Suspects: Eighteenth-Century Players and Sexual Ideology (1992) and Divided Fictions: Fanny Burney and Feminine Strategy (1988). She recently edited Fanny Burney's Evelina (1997).
- A 1999–2000 Monthly Evening Colloquium
- At least this truth we hold to be self-evident: that scholars in all fields use evidence, but that all evidence is not created equal. The early modern period was defined as "early" modern in part by the emergence of the category of evidence (and the condition of self-evidence) in fields as diverse as law, science, theology, and epistemology. 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 disciplines which have been distinguished as disciplines by virtue of the evidence they count as much as the wider methodologies they deploy. Through the lenses of its participants' work, this year-long series of evening colloquia will explore the resilient differences between the disciplines in their definitions of evidence. Discussion will optimally involve attention not only to the kinds of evidence that are now available but also to the larger question of what can most usefully count as evidence. Is a contemporary scholar's reading evidence in the same way that an original document is? Does a document become evidence because of its contemporaneity, or by virtue of the uses to which it is put? Do the terms "primary" and "secondary" have the same meaning in different disciplines? What are the protocols for handling different kinds of evidence and are they transferable, or even comparable? The answers to none of these questions is self-evident, but it should be clear that the attempt to grapple strenuously with them is perhaps the single most important effort in any disciplinary, interdisciplinary, counterdisciplinary, or transdisciplinary dialogue.
- Directors: David Armitage is Associate Professor of History at Columbia University. He is the author of the forthcoming The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (2000), editor of Bolingbroke: Political Writings (1997) and of Theories of Empire, 1450-1800 (1998), and coeditor of Milton and Republicanism (1995).
- David Scott Kastan is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of Shakespeare after Theory (1999) and a General Editor, with Richard Proudfoot and Ann Thompson, of the Arden Shakespeare. He has also edited A Companion to Shakespeare (1999) and Critical Essays on Shakespeare's "Hamlet" (1995), and coedited both A New History of Early English Drama (1997) and Staging the Renaissance: Reinterpretations of Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama (1991).
Researching the Early Modern Archive
- A Spring 2000 Semester-Length Seminar for Dissertation Candidates
- This seminar is designed specifically for doctoral candidates whose dissertation work would benefit either from recourse to the Folger Library collections or from ongoing discussion of the methodological and theoretical issues involved in the conduct of interdisciplinary scholarship-or, ideally, from both. Especially relevant will be dissertations in literature or history that deal with books printed in England between 1470 and 1700 or with manuscripts held by the Folger Shakespeare Library either in collection or on film (as, for instance, the State Papers Domestic or the manuscripts of the Marquis of Salisbury held at Hatfield House). The agenda for the group meetings will be set so as to introduce these and other scholarly resources and to accommodate the joint exploration of problems posed by individual seminar participants. Private conferences addressing the specific research configurations of individual projects will also be scheduled. Candidates for this seminar should consult with their dissertation directors before applying and should secure letters of reference reflecting such consultation.
- Director: Leeds Barroll, Presidential Research Professor of English at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, is the author of Politics, Plague, and Shakespeare's Theatre: The Stuart Years (1991), Shakespearean Tragedy (1984), Artificial Persons (1974), and the forthcoming Inventing Queenship: Anna and the Culture of the First Stuart Court. He is the founding editor of Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England and Shakespeare Studies.
Between Worlds: Cultural Mixture and Translation
- A Spring 2000 Weekend Faculty Seminar
- Cultural mixture in social experience, consciousness, and writing is often analysed in terms of polarities (assimilation/authenticity, domination/resistance), concealed hegemonies, or monochromatic melting pots. This seminar will look at the character of mixture more closely, exploring the interweaving of different strands of language, sensibility, and values in the early modern period. How did men and women negotiate the contrasting worlds to which they belonged? What strategies of identity-formation were used by those who moved across boundaries? What cultural resources did they have at their disposal for living a "mixed" life? Is there a descriptive language more precise than "hybridity," "patchwork," and "métissage"? Participants are invited to present their research on individuals, communities, and/or texts from early modern Europe (including Europe's Jewish communities), from Islamic societies, and from the indigenous and settler communities of the Americas (such as Katerina Tekakwitha in Quebec and Poma de Ayala in Peru). They will read samples of each other's work in advance of the weekend session. In addition, participants will read an exemplary text from the past and a few interpretive essays to provide a common frame for discussion.
- Director: Natalie Zemon Davis is currently Adjunct Professor of History and Senior Fellow in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. Her many works include Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives (1995), Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and their Tellers in Sixteenth Century France (1987), The Return of Martin Guerre (1983), and Society and Culture in Early Modern France (1975).
Periodization and Hamlet in 2000
- A Spring 2000 Semester-Length Seminar
- The seminar will begin with a discussion of general issues of periodization. Why is it necessary? How arbitrary is it? By what principles are periods organized? How do they affect editorial and critical practices? The seminar will then move on to consider the nineteenth-century construction of the Renaissance and Early Modern. What does it mean that we use these two antithetical designations for the same historical stretch, the first suggesting a circular recovery of the past and the second a linear (and teleological) anticipation of the future? Our next project will be to explore how Hamlet for the past two centuries has been identified with the onset of an ever-receding modern period. On the basis of readings from Coleridge, Hegel, Freud, Benjamin, Deleuze, Lacan, and Derrida, participants will trace how definitions of the modern (and even of the postmodern) continually change but consistently turn to Hamlet as their inaugural figure. Finally, the seminar will look at Shakespeare's Hamlet—in the 1603/1604 and 1623 texts-with the purpose of identifying its own modes of temporal inscription: generational, imperial, constitutional, eschatological, and astrological.
- Director: Margreta de Grazia is Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to numerous articles, her works include Subject and Object in Renaissance Culture (1996), coedited with Maureen Quilligan and Peter Stallybrass, and Shakespeare Verbatim: the Reproduction of Authenticity and the 1790 Apparatus (1991).
Mechanical Arts, Natural Philosophy, and Visual Representation in Early Modern Europe
- A Spring 2000 Semester-Length Seminar
This interdisciplinary seminar will utilize recent scholarship and primary sources to examine the role of visual representation in both the mechanical arts and natural philosophy from the fourteenth through the seventeenth centuries. The visual construction of the "natural" and the "real" will be approached through a study of such concepts as "illusionism," "symbolism," and "representation." Throughout the central focus will be the cultural status of visual representation and the changing ways in which it is used to construct and legitimate knowledge about the world. For instance, the seminar will investigate the ways in which images are used to represent plants, animals, buildings, machines and other mechanical objects, geological formations and other objects of the natural world, anatomies both human and animal, and celestial objects such as the moon. Attention will be given to methods of representation such as perspective. The seminar will study the ways in which visual images function in relationship to texts in the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Vesalius, Galileo, Helvétius, Robert Boyle, and Robert Hooke, among others. Participants will examine the development, use, and epistemological status of optical instruments such as the telescope and microscope. Sources include both manuscript and print books on machines, including "theaters of machines." Other topics include regional differences between northern Europe and Italy concerning visual images, the influence of ancient concepts of representation, and the cultural and social status of people who create images. The seminar welcomes scholars with backgrounds in history, history of science and technology, literature, and art history, among other disciplines.
Director: Pamela O. Long currently holds a grant from the National Science Foundation to complete her book Openness, Secrecy, Authorship, Ownership: Studies in the Practical, Technical, and Knowledge Traditions of Premodern and Early Modern Europe. She has published in such journals as Isis, History and Technology, Technology and Culture, and the Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies. She has taught at a number of universities including The Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, and St. John's College.
The Early Modern Book
- A Spring 2000 Semester-Length Seminar for Master's Students
- Drawing on the collections and resources of the Folger Shakespeare Library, this introductory seminar for Master's students will survey the textual culture of the early modern period and will explore the methodological and material issues involved in working with the books it has produced. Through historical overviews and detailed case studies, the seminar will study the ways in which texts moved from writers to readers in the transitional centuries following the invention of printing. It will aim to develop students' skills of deciphering, describing, and analyzing texts, and each student will follow a chosen work through a series of research and writing assignments. Readings will focus on English literature, but discussions and research will bring other cultures and disciplines into play.
- 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).
Renaissance Paleography in England
- A Spring 2000 Semester-Length Skills Course
- This skills course is designed to provide an introduction to English handwriting of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and to introduce participants to a wide range of documents of historical and literary interest from the manuscript collections of the Folger Shakespeare Library. These may include correspondence, literary works, accounts, inventories, wills, and deeds. Enrollment is limited to eight participants. Applicants are encouraged to describe the manuscript resources they are consulting in their own research, as participants will have an opportunity to discuss with the class the textual problems they are encountering in their work with Renaissance English manuscripts.
- Director: Laetitia Yeandle is Curator of Manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She coedited with Richard Dunn The Journal of John Winthrop, 1630–1649 (1996) and edited the text of The Tractates for the Folger Library edition of The Works of Richard Hooker (1990). With Jean Preston, she coauthored Handwriting in England: 1400-1650(1992) and with Giles E. Dawson, Elizabethan Handwriting, 1500–1650: A Manual (1966).
Mapping Networks and Practices of Political Exchange in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries: British Political Thought in Early Modern Europe
- A Weekend Symposium Sponsored by the Center for the History of British Political Thought held on 18–20 May 2000
This weekend symposium will look for patterns and networks of interaction between "British" (insular) and "European" (Continental) intellectual culture. How far was British political thought drawn from a common European pool? How far did it entail migration and two-way exchanges between these and other political cultures? How far was it idiosyncratic, internally produced and distributed? These and related questions will be discussed in this symposium, which seeks to learn as much from what does not travel as from what does travel across political cultures. The symposium will take up several particular aspects of these problems in turn. How, for instance, were the languages of monarchies, whether of the well-counseled prince or the regiment of women, generated and communicated? How do the churches of England and Scotland appear in the international context of Roman Catholicism and Calvinism? To what extent are the languages of civil war generated locally and/or shared among cultures? And finally, how many histories has Leviathan and how far do they converge in one?
Faculty: J.G.A. Pocock (Johns Hopkins) and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge) will codirect the opening session. Invited scholars who will lead the discussion sessions that follow include Sharon Achinstein (University of Maryland), J. H. Burns (London), Conal Condren (New South Wales), Lori Anne Ferrell (Claremont Graduate University), Anthony Grafton (Princeton), Sarah Hanley, Noel Malcolm (Harvard University), R. Malcolm Smuts (University of Massachusetts), Johann P. Sommerville (University of Wisconsin), and Richard Tuck (Harvard).