Hannibal Hamlin

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This page reflects a scholar's association with the Folger Institute.

Long-term fellowship

"Shakespeare and Biblical Culture" (ACLS/Burkhardt Fellow, 2008–2009)

This will be the first serious, major study of Shakespeare’s use of biblical allusions and references to make meaning in his plays. Despite the fact that it has not been acknowledged by Bullough, Muir, and others as a “source,” in the traditional sense, no work is alluded to more often and more meaningfully in Shakespeare’s plays and poems than the Bible. This project will explore Shakespeare’s allusive practice, one which he derived from Kyd and Marlowe but which he further developed to his own purposes. The Renaissance Bible was also an interpreted Bible, however. Thus, this study will explore glosses, sermons, liturgies, commentaries, literature, and art, to determine the range of scriptural interpretations available to Shakespeare’s audience. The rich holdings of the Folger will enable me to describe how playgoers might have made meaning of the interaction between Shakespeare’s plays and the biblical texts, characters, and ideas to which they allude. Moreover, the experience of hearing the Bible in church conditioned Shakespeare’s audience to recognize and interpret biblical allusions in the theater. Therefore, the study will also explore the relationship between the Church and the theater as cultural institutions. Finally, "Shakespeare and Biblical Culture" will include a survey of the criticism on Shakespeare and the Bible, beginning in the nineteenth century, which includes important essays on individual plays, major works of bibliographical scholarship, as well as some extremely peculiar but nevertheless intriguing studies. This project will advance our understanding of both Shakespeare and the profoundly biblical culture of early modern England.

Scholarly Programs

Roundtable Chair, "Questions of Originality, Authenticity, and Linguistic Legacies" at An Anglo-American History of the KJV (Conference, 2011–2012)


Curator, Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible (September 23, 2011–January 16, 2012). The Hamlin family bible was displayed as part of this exhibition. Professor Hamlin gave the opening lecture for the exhibit Listen here.

A gallery talk on 27 October 2011, and an audio tour of the exhibition can be heard here.