The Folger Institute is a dedicated center for advanced study and collections-focused research in the humanities at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The Institute fosters targeted investigations of the world-class Folger collection. Through its multi-disciplinary, cross-cultural formal programs and residential research fellowships, the Institute gathers knowledge communities and establishes fresh research and teaching agendas for early modern humanities. Its advanced undergraduate program introduces students to rare materials and the research questions that can be explored with those materials. Plans are also underway to organize larger scale, collaborative research initiatives. This new aggregation was launched at the Folger in 2013.
The work of the Institute in all its many parts has been generously supported by endowments from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, program and fellowship grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the sustaining memberships of the universities of the Institute's consortium, and support from a variety of other sources. The Folger Institute helps set the intellectual agenda for early modern humanities. Through their interpretations of primary source materials, its associated scholars bring to light important issues from early modernity that still resonate today.
The Center for Shakespeare Studies
The Center for Shakespeare Studies was founded in 1986 with an NEH grant. The Center's first premise is that no single critical approach, historical perspective, scholarly method, or pedagogical strategy can do justice to Shakespeare's texts and contexts. The Center presents and encourages a wide variety of approaches to its subject. Generous support from the NEH has funded many Center programs and ensured that the Center's reach extends to college teachers across the country. Numerous NEH summer institutes, two groundbreaking year-long performance institutes, and conferences have been among the highlights of the Center's offerings. The many products of the Center's scholarly work include publications and podcasts. Pedagogical applications have motivated the Primary Sourcebooks.
The Center for the History of British Political Thought
In 1984, a National Endowment for the Humanities grant established the Folger Institute Center for the History of British Political Thought. In 1996, an endowment from Dr. Barbara Bradfield Taft assured its future. Further gifts and a bequest from Dr. Taft have strengthened its position. Through a series of carefully plotted seminars, conferences, and publications, the Center has re-mapped the main patterns of discourse in a major political culture over three seminal centuries.
The Center's work to date is represented in print by The Varieties of British Political Thought, 1500–1800, edited by J.G.A. Pocock, with the assistance of Gordon J. Schochet and Lois G. Schwoerer, cofounders of the Steering Committee. The Varieties features essays by the directors of the first comprehensive sequence of grant-funded seminars. Six volumes of "Proceedings" followed from the Center’s 1984–87 programs, as have numerous collections of individual conference and seminar papers. Most recently, British Political Thought in History, Literature and Theory, 1500—1800, edited by David Armitage, marked the proceedings of the Center’s twentieth anniversary conference, a conference which has helped to set new agendas for the Center’s future programs. A series of symposia on “Networks and Practices of Political Exchange in the Early Modern World” have also been instrumental in the charting of new courses for the Center. Most of the volumes have been published by Cambridge University Press in association with the Folger Institute. The Institute maintains a complete list of all Center programs and publications.
The Center is overseen by a Steering Committee chaired by J.G.A. Pocock of The Johns Hopkins University and including David Armitage of Harvard University, Linda Levy Peck of The George Washington University, Gordon Schochet of Rutgers University, Julia Rudolph of North Carolina State University, Nigel Smith of Princeton University, and Kathleen Lynch of the Folger Institute.