This page reflects a scholar's association with the Folger Institute.
"Ecologies of Skill in Early Modern England" (Mellon, 2012–2013)
My project seeks to examine the skilled body, beginning with a study of the skilled body of the player and performer and working outward to wider cultural debates about skill and the body. Skill is embodied but also extended and embedded into its environment; it is profoundly social. I hope to construct what I term a cognitive ecology of skill in early modern England, both employing and calling into question contemporary research into skill and expertise in the contemporary cognitive sciences, including recent research into ‘enskillment’ in cognitive anthropology. Among the questions I hope to raise are: how is skill inculcated, appraised, valued, and evaluated cross-culturally and historically? Among the lines of investigation I propose are:
- Internal evidence within the plays: how is skill and its converse—ineptness—represented and commented upon?
- The wide range of inset skill displays with the fiction of the drama, including calls for fencing, dancing, pike-throwing, vaulting, and tumbling;
- Accounts of extra-fictional—shall we say paratextual—feats of skill performed by players attached to companies or travelling with them;
- Displays and discussion of skill within the wider cultural context of early modern England.
My aim is to construct a model of ecologies of skill within the period.
- Syllabus (2001)
Faculty, Habits of Reading in Early Modern England (NEH Institute, 1997-Summer)
Editorial Board, Shakespeare Quarterly