Ritual and Ceremony from Late-Medieval Europe to Early America (NEH Summer Institute)

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Directed by Claire Sponsler, Professor of English at the University of Iowa

June 21 through July 23, 2010

This NEH Summer Institute for College and University Faculty offered a comparative study of ritual and ceremony across related European cultures from 1300 to 1700. It built on anthropological theories of the ubiquitous role of ritual and ceremony and the impact of that work in performance studies. Testing assumptions about influence and exchange among national traditions and local contexts, it sought a new understanding of the processes and effects of cultural hybridity and assimilation.

Source Call Number: ART Box R763 no.23: Nuoua et essatta pianta del conclaue con le funtioni e ceremonie per l'elettione del nuouo pontefice fatto nella sede vacante…

Beginning with an exploration of the theories and definitions of “ritual,” each subsequent session advanced topically, chronologically, and geographically while touching on the implications of ceremony and ritual in religious, domestic, and secular contexts. Throughout the institute, participants used the Folger’s collections. They first read about ceremonies and liturgical performance through medieval authors including Hildegard of Bingen and Chaucer. Rituals surrounding motherhood and birthing practices, specifically the childbed, were also examined as sites of domestic ritualistic performance. Moving into the civic sphere, the session topics included records of Lord Mayor shows, pageant plays, royal entries, and other public ceremonies. The institute concluded with representations of ceremony on the early modern stage through histories and tragedies, discussions of the materials of ritual, and sites of pilgrimage.

Materials and Products

The syllabus is available here.

While the website is no longer supported, it has been archived: Institute Website: Ritual and Ceremony

A PDF of the website's pages with the participants' interpretive essays.

A PDF of the original promotional flyer.

Source Call Number STC 20488: Histoire de l'entree de la reyne mere du roy tres-Chrestien, dans la Grande-Bretaigne. Enrichie de planches. Par le Sr. de la Serre, Historigraphe de France.


(All affiliations are as of the program's date)

Bernadette Andrea, Professor of English, University of Texas, San Antonio

Christopher J. Bilodeau, Assistant Professor of History, Dickinson College

Rachel L. Burk, Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Tulane University

Peter Craft, PhD Candidate in English, University of Illinois,Urbana-Champaign

J. Caitlin Finlayson, Assistant Professor of English, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Elina Gertsman, Assistant Professor of Medieval Art, Case Western Reserve University

Marcia B. Hall, Professor of Art History, Temple University

Matthew C. Hansen, Assistant Professor of English, Boise State University

Kenneth L. Hodges, Associate Professor of English, University of Oklahoma

John M. Hunt, Term Assistant Professor of History, University of Louisville

Matthew W. Irvin, Assistant Professor of English, Sewanee The University of the South

Nancy J. Kay, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art History, Merrimack College

Andrew D. McCarthy, Assistant Professor of English, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga

Cynthia Nazarian, Assistant Professor of French and Italian, Northwestern University

Patrick O’Banion, Assistant Professor of History, Lindenwood University

Stephanie M. Seery-Murphy, Lecturer in History, California State University, Sacramento

Christopher Swift, PhD Candidate in Theatre Studies, City University of New York, Graduate Center

Lisa Voigt, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, The Ohio State University

Anne E. Wohlcke, Assistant Professor of History, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Suzanne M. Yeager, Assistant Professor of English and Medieval Studies, Fordham University


Source Call Number Z.e.4 Map case: St. Stephen's day hymn

(All affiliations are as of the program's date)

Ian Archer, Keble College, Oxford

Lawrence M. Bryant, California State University, Chico

Barbara Fuchs, UCLA

Gail McMurray Gibson, Davidson College

Bruce Holsinger, University of Virginia

Roslyn L. Knutson, University of Arkansas, Little Rock

Joseph Roach, Yale University

Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly, Exeter College, Oxford

Michael Wintroub, University of California Berkeley

Barbara Wisch, SUNY Cortland

Website Production

Claire Sponsler, Advisory Editor

Kathleen Lynch, Editor

Owen Williams, Associate Editor

Adrienne Shevchuk, Production and Managing Editor

Allison Isberg, Editorial Assistant

Swim Design, Design and Development

Julie Ainsworth, Folger Shakespeare Library Photographer

Source Call Number V.b.74: Armorial of English families

Folger Institute Staff

David Schalkwyk, Chair

Kathleen Lynch, Executive Director

Owen Williams, Assistant Director

Adrienne Shevchuk, Program Assistant

Matthew Carr, Intern

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

Hosted by the Folger Shakespeare Library. For more information about current summer seminars, please visit the National Endowment for the Humanities website.