Shakespeare's Theatrical Documents (symposium)

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Shakespeare’s Theatrical Documents

A Spring 2016 Folger Institute Symposium

Description: As well as being called “play-makers” and “poets,” playwrights in early modern England were sometimes known as “play-patchers.” This is because plays themselves could be viewed as a collection of odds and ends rather than a whole entity. This symposium, sponsored by the Institute’s Center for Shakespeare Studies as part of its triennial anniversary programming, will bring together panels of major scholars to explore the “patches” that made up Shakespeare’s texts before, during, and after performance. Participants will consider the documents from which a play was constructed (including plot-scenarios and snatches of co-authored text); the documents from which a play was performed (including actors’ parts, stage scrolls, prologues and epilogues, backstage plots, and arguments); and the documents into which a play resolved after performance (including ballads, chapbooks, and passages in miscellanies and commonplace books). Investigating the way documents inform and complicate our ideas about play-construction, performance, revision, and reception, the symposium will ask participants to consider whether plays themselves were ever whole entities: what is a play?

Organizers: Tiffany Stern is Professor of Early Modern Drama at Oxford University and a General Editor of Arden 4 Shakespeare. Her books include Shakespeare in Parts (co-written with Simon Palfrey, 2007) and Documents of Performance in Early Modern England (2009). She is currently writing a book about theaters and fairs, and another about documents after performance. She is organizing this symposium with Owen Williams, the Institute’s Assistant Director for Scholarly Programs.

Provisional Schedule (subject to change))

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Folger Shakespeare Library Exhibition Hall and Theatre


Opening Reception/Registration (Paster Reading Room)


Plenary Lecture: “From Script to Stage to Script”

Tiffany Stern, Oxford University

Welcome and Chair: Kathleen Lynch, Folger Institute

Friday, March 18, 2016

Foulke Conference Room, 301 East Capitol Street, SE


Documents before Performance
Welcome: Owen Williams, Folger Institute

Lucy Munro, King’s College London Holger Syme, University of Toronto

10:30-10:45: Break


Documents of Rehearsal

James Marino, Cleveland State University Richard Preiss, University of Utah

12:15-1:30: Lunch (on your own)


Documents during Performance

Sonia Massai, King’s College London Paul Menzer, Mary Baldwin College

3:00-3:30: Tea Break


Staged Documents

Matt Steggle, Sheffield Hallam University Sarah Wall-Randell, Wellesley College

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Foulke Conference Room, 301 East Capitol Street, SE


Documents after Performance

Laura Estill, Texas A&M University Andras Kisery, City College of New York, CUNY


Playtexts as Documents

Claire M. L. Bourne, Virginia Commonwealth University Zachary Lesser, University of Pennsylvania

12:15-1:45: Lunch (on your own)


Lost Documents; Absent Documents; Forged Documents

Roslyn Knutson, University of Arkansas, Little Rock David McInnis, University of Melbourne

3:15-4:00: Tea Break


Wrap-up Session: Rethinking Shakespeare’s Theatrical Documents


Peter Holland, University of Notre Dame
Paul Werstine, University of Western Ontario


Closing Reception

(Founders Room)