The Handwritten Worlds of Early Modem England

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While the website is no longer supported, it has been archived: Institute Website: Ritual and Ceremony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

NEH Summer Institute

Center for Shakespeare Studies

June 20 through July 29, 2005

Institute Website: Manuscript Miscellany: PDF of Website

Program Materials

Directed by Steven W. May, Professor of English at Georgetown College                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

What accounts of manuscript cultures can we provide in our college classrooms? How, and why, will those accounts enrich our understanding of the period? In addressing these large questions, quite specific concerns will guide discussion throughout the institute and facilitate some provisional conclusions. Working directly with important classes of surviving materials, we will carefully analyze manuscripts, providing bibliographical descriptions, and attending to the identities of scribal hands, the means of production, the economics of trade, and the stages of transmission-- where such matters can be deduced -- and discussing alternative means of analysis where they cannot be. We will query such notions as authorship, originality, intellectual property, the associations of gender with particular kinds of writing, and the dimensions-and relationsof public and private, amateur and professional. Who participated in the creation and reception of certain types of manuscripts, how, and to what ends? Such analyses will open our discussions about the roles these manuscripts had in formulating and sustaining communities of readers and writers, as well as about the foundations of various communal identities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

In seeking to resituate manuscripts in a larger discursive world, the scope of the institute's inquiry will be broad, roughly encompassing the centuries from 1400 to 1700. We will begin our investigations at a point in time before the existence of a print trade in England, acknowledging the mature trade of manuscript production and circulation in the late middle ages and examining the transitions from one dominant mode of publication to another. We will next consider a transitional period, when the book trade in England is fully developed, to examine the exchanges among manuscript, print, and oral cultures in such genres as poetry, song, and drama. Finally, we will extend our investigations to the late seventeenth-century, continuing to explore multiple relations among inscriptive media, to discern parallel realms of circulation in specific knowledge communities, and to consider the causes for the survivals of manuscript circulation. The scope of the institute will thus add a diachronic dimension to our inquiries, asking why, for example, certain topics and types of documents were virtually restricted to manuscript circulation long after the arrival of the printing press. We will ask as well what genres during the period in question were gradually monopolized by print culture as they simultaneously disappeared from manuscript circulation. There will be yet further questions: Did manuscript texts circulate at all levels of society? Did literate classes read printed and transcribed materials in similar quantities with similar expectations? Did the ratios of printed and transcribed materials or, indeed, of readers and writers, evolve or remain constant during the centuries under review?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

A key feature of these investigations will be an introduction of the many resources available. These resources are the materials themselves-the holdings of the Folger Shakespeare Library, to begin with, but also the modem printed editions and the growing number of documents now available digitally on the websites of research libraries and in other electronic media. The institute's resources are also, crucially, its community of scholars. The institute gathers an expert, international visiting faculty at the forefront of contemporary studies of manuscripts. Our sixteen scholar-participants will bring their own research and teaching agendas, and will welcome the visiting scholars, in tum, into ongoing investigations. The Folger Curator of Manuscripts will consult closely with the institute on the use of rare materials and codirect informal tutorials with the program director. Steven May, Professor of English at Georgetown College, will direct the institute. Professor May is an accomplished editor of manuscript materials, most recently of Queen Elizabeth I: Selected Works (Washington Square Press, 2004). In the long course of preparing his monumental Bibliography and First-Line Index of English Verse, 1559-1603, Professor May has worked in more than one hundred archives, amassing references to more than thirty-thousand individual poems. The Index is a foundational work, one that gives scholars of this generation the materials with which to mount fresh investigations of primary sources, challenge conventional expectations, and perhaps revise literary histories.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

The institute does not require or aim to produce an expertise in paleography or editing. Rather, "The Handwritten Worlds of Early Modem England" gathers experts in those fields to work with college teachers to focus upon the many questions that figuratively crowd the margins of paleographical instruction. What materials survive? In what numbers and in what contexts? How do we incorporate new materials and new strategies for reading them into a fuller, richer picture of cultural production? With the series of engagements with authoritative visiting faculty described below, the selected participants will collaboratively articulate a set of terms by which the status of manuscripts may be assessed in the literary, cultural, and social histories of England.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                


Julia Boffey, Professor of Medieval Studies, Queen Mary University of London

Victoria E. Burke, Associate Professor of English, University of Ottawa

Susan Cerasano, Edgar W.B. Fairchild Professor of Literature and Director of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program, Colgate University

A.S.G Edwards, Professor of English, University of Victoria

Mary Erler, Professor of English, Fordham University

Margaret J. M. Ezell, The John Paul Abbot Professor of Liberal Arts, Texas A&M University

Adam Fox, Reader in Economic and Social History, University of Edinburgh

Lena C. Orlin, Professor English, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Alan Stewart, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

Paul Werstine, Professor of English, University of Western Ontario

Heather Wolfe, Curator of Manuscripts, Folger Shakespeare Library

Henry Woudhuysen, Professor of English and Head of Department, University College London


Timothy Billings, Assistant Professor of English at Middlebury College 

Garth Bond, Lecturer of English at Lawrence University 

Nicole Clifton, Associate Professor of English at Northern Illinois University 

Donna Crawford, Associate Professor of English at Virginia State University 

Lara Dodds, Assistant Professor of English at Mississippi State University 

Anne R. Hawkins, Assistant Professor of English at Texas Tech University 

Christopher Ivic, Assistant Professor of English at SUNY, Potsdam 

George Justice, Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Columbia 

Rebecca Laroche, Associate Professor of English at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs 

Tricia A. McElroy, Lecturer of English at the University of Michigan 

Jason Powell, Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Wake Forest University 

William Quinn, Professor of English at the University of Arkansas 

Matthew Rusnak, Professor of English at Bucks County Community College 

Emily Bowles Smith, Adjunct Instructor of English at Georgia Perimeter College 

Janet Wright Starner, Assistant Professor of English at Wilkes University 

Andrew Walkling, Dean's Lecturer of Art History, English, and Theatre at SUNY Binghamton


"The Emperor of China His Letter to Queen Elizabeth" (1600)

John Donne's "To His Mistress Going to Bed" As an Open Source

Sequence and Design in Wroth's Pamphilia to Amphilanthus

A Seventeenth-Century Prophecy of Merlin

The Marginalized Voices of Chaucer's Early Readers

Poetic Authority in Manuscript and Print: The Case of Milton's Paradise Lost and Dryden's The State of Innocence and Fall of Man

Ben Jonson and Manuscript Culture

The Circulation of Poetry in the Eighteenth Century: The Case of Charles Plumptre's Manuscript Volume

Gendering Hands, Gendering Business: A Letter from Elizabeth Bagot 

Copying Fatherly Advice

Episodes in the Pastoral

"Let them Compleately Learn": Manuscript Clues About Early Modern Women's Educational Practices

Teaching Reading and Writing

The Royal Paper Office

Folger Institute Staff  Barbara Mowat, Chair Kathleen Lynch, Executive Director Owen Williams, Program Administrator Carol Brobeck, Folger Shakespeare Library Fellowships Administrator;  Folger Institute Program Liaison Virginia Millington, Program Assistant Shira Loev, Intern

Website  Steven W. May, Advisory Editor Kathleen Lynch, Principal Editor Heather Wolfe, Advisory Editor Carol Brobeck, Editor Virginia Millington, Editor Britton Haeuser, Intern  Swim Design, Design and Development Julie Ainsworth, Folger Shakespeare Library Photographer