Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates, Folger Institute NEH microgrant project (2016-2017)

Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Division of Education Programs, the "Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates" program hosts a competitive micro-grant application for First Folio! university sites, a summer 2016 workshop, and a blog space for participating professors, librarians, and administrators to discuss undergraduate Shakespearean pedagogy. In addition, this NEH grant-funded program will yield an online suite of teaching tools drawn from micro-grant projects and blog developments.

Program Staff

Dr. Kathleen Lynch, Program Director  

Dr. Kyle Vitale, Program Manager

Justine DeCamillis, Program Intern

Micro-Grant Competition

Through competitive micro-grants managed by the Folger Institute, 21 college faculty teams were awarded funds to establish proposed initiatives and digital projects that strengthen college-level instruction of Shakespeare's plays. Awarded faculty teams are headquartered in colleges and universities around the country:

  • Belmont University, TN
  • Drew University, NJ
  • Emory University, GA
  • Florida International University, FL
  • Gallaudet University, DC
  • University of Hawai'i, HI
  • Kansas State University, KS
  • Mary Baldwin College, VA
  • Cleveland State University, OH
  • Texas A&M University (College Station and Corpus Christi), TX
  • Tulane University, LA
  • University of Arizona, AZ
  • University of Colorado Boulder, CO
  • University of Connecticut, CT
  • University of Iowa, IA
  • University of Louisville, KY
  • University of Minnesota Duluth, MN
  • University of Oregon, OR
  • University of South Dakota, SD
  • Wayne State University, MI
  • Wheeling Jesuit University, WV

A map presenting the location of micro-grant and First Folio! sites can be found here.

Awarded projects include regional conferences focusing on Shakespeare in local culture; undergraduates constructing performance archives for historical and modern acting companies; digitizing Shakespeare and Shakespeare-related texts in collections, and hyperlinking with Folger Digital Texts; print history workshops; translations of Shakespeare into native languages, including Hawaiian; and new resources from Shakespeare’s plays for local community outreach.

Pedagogy Workshop

Representatives from each micro-grant team gathered at the Folger on 13-14 June 216 to attend workshops and roundtables on undergraduate pedagogy. In the opening roundtable, "Thinking Pedagogically," Dr. Stephen Buhler performed a selection of the Bard’s sonnets set to popular rock ballads on his mandolin, while he, Dr. Diana Henderson, Dr. Kim McLean-Fiander, and Dr. Scott Trudell explored how pedagogy in the digital age requires deeper evaluations of our classroom audience and new approaches to the student, not as individuals, but as hybrid media consumers. The second roundtable, "Mediated Shakespeares" co-hosted by Dr. Alan Galey, Dr. Adam Hooks, and Dr. James Marino, concerned questions of scale, deconstruction, and different media pathways for students to approach Shakespeare.

Through micro-grant applications and dialogue with workshop speakers, five themes emerged and were explored in depth during the individual sessions of the workshop.

Book and Print History in Mediation

These workshops explored how welcoming archival materials into the classroom leads students and scholars into productive conversations of intention, production, and human error. Drs. Galey and Hooks co-hosted two interactive seminars that used various editions of Hamlet to demonstrate how students can make discoveries by examining the material text. They shared lesson plans that help student edit original printings for punctuation, diagram the printing history of a text, and more.

Digital Projects

Digital projects like the Map of Early Modern London, introduced by Dr. McLean-Fiander, demonstrated how bringing Shakespeare's world into present-day mediums and histories provides students with a nuanced understanding of his cultural impact. Drs. Owen Williams and Kyle Vitale shared some of the Folger’s evergreen and emerging digital resources, including Shakespeare Documented, Hamnet, the Digital image collection and J-STOR’s "Understanding Shakespeare," leading a conversation about the use and improvement of these tools for the undergraduate classroom.

Performance and Interactive Digital Media

Several workshops explored developments in more traditional teaching approaches. Drs. Paul Menzer, Doreen Bechtol, Stephen Buhler and James Marino examined how embodied performance through music, reading aloud, and physical engagement with texts can help students understand cues and emotional construction in the text. Exploring performance pedagogy and digital media, Dr. Diana Henderson explored classroom approaches that balance mass media and online modules with “on your feet” lesson plans, while Dr. Scott Trudell showed how media projects like his own "Sounds of Pageantry," along with blogging platforms in the classroom, help students envision the sensory realities of performance.

Translating Shakespeare

 Dr. Alexa Huang explored the crowd sourcing power of translating Shakespeare across languages and cultures, with particular attention to editing practices as a form of cultural censorship. Dr. Huang also showed how translating Shakespeare’s complete works serves as a political ambassador for transcontinental collaboration. A session led by Dr. Georgianna Ziegler explored, through the America's Shakespeare exhibition and related content, how Shakespeare was translated, adapted and adopted by newcomers in America from advertisements to early 19th century immigrant theater productions.

Using the Digital Archive

Dr. Laura Estill, borrowing from her own World Shakespeare Bibliography, explored utilization of online archives and crowd-sourcing for creating student bibliographies and helping students learn to analyze and organize metadata. In a second "Folger Resources" talk, Dr. Williams, Dr. Vitale and the Folger’s Database Applications Specialist Michael Poston demonstrated various uses for the Folger Digital Texts API in the classroom.

TSU Yammer Blog

On a private blog hosted by Yammer, micro-grant teams are building from the workshop, developing new lesson plans, and discussing pedagogical strategy during the 2016-2017 academic year. The blog includes interviews with professors, lesson plans developed from Folger materials, and data sharing resources. While the blog will expire in summer 2017, materials will be extracted and formalized for TSU’s final phase, a free suite of online teaching tools. 

Online Suite

Each micro-grant site will share a portion, sample, or detail from their awarded initiative with the Folger in order to construct a digital suite of free, open access pedagogical tools for teaching Shakespeare to undergraduates. The suite will represent a range of intense reflection and development on Shakespearean pedagogy from faculty in almost every university setting. This paragraph will be further updated as the online suite develops in summer 2017.