An Anglo-American History of the KJV (conference)

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

This was a fall 2011 conference organized by Lori Anne Ferrell (Claremont Graduate University) and Kathleen Lynch (Folger Institute). Plenary speakers were Brian Cummings (University of Sussex), Ena Heller (Museum of Biblical Art), Peter Lake (Vanderbilt University), and Jill Lepore (Harvard University).

This conference marked the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible (KJV). It raised issues that speak directly to the influences of this most famous of all English-language translations of the scriptures, exploring them in the context of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s collections, shaping them to the converging interests of the Institute’s many constituencies, and taking direction from the symbolic location of the Library in the capital of the United States. The conference was scheduled in conjunction with Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible, an exhibition jointly organized by the Folger and the Bodleian Library. With plenary lectures, panels, and round tables, discussion explored the Bible’s role in provoking, defining, and then, in a sense, outlasting the English Reformation as an essential template for life, letters, art, politics, and culture. Speakers traced the paths the KJV took through the Enlightenment and across democratic movements. Rich case studies examined how the KJV has shaped denominational as well as secular experiences in Britain and America, touching on the larger worlds both nations encountered in their own imperial moments.