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2010-2011 Long-term Fellows' Abstracts

A.E.B Coldiron (NEH Fellow)


Printers Without Borders: Translation and Transnationalism in Tudor Literature


Printers without Borders studies translation, printing, and transnationalism in the first phases of the Renaissance media revolution. This book project builds on the work of such scholars as Helgerson, Hadfield, and MacEachern, who establish the centrality of early modern nationalism and nation-building in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is widely accepted that printing and translation helped develop English literary nationhood, enriching English letters and shaping English identity and power. But by studying the preceding century—the first crucial century after Caxton brought the press to England in 1476—and by focusing on two allied processes of textual transformation (printing and translation), this project reveals foundational transnational impulses developing alongside that better-known story of literary nationhood.  Earlier printer-translators such as Caxton, DeWorde, Pynson, or Wyer, and later ones, such as Richard Field or John Wolfe, reached ever-broadening readerships by Englishing works that nevertheless remained visibly, vividly foreign. (The projects shows that “Englishing” comes to include e.g. transmediation, hybridity, cultural polysystems accommodations; thus that “English” literature comes to include considerable, essential alterity.) Among topics treated: the Arabic and multi-vernacular origins of Caxton’s Dictes (1477); Chartier’s anti-court critiques, deracinated and recontextualized during English rebellions; Beza’s octolingual broadside celebrating the Armada victory (Bishop/Newberie, 1588; extant copies on vellum & paper); Castiglione in bilingual-trilingual editions (Cloquemin, 1580; Huguetan, 1585; Wolfe, 1588); macaronic poems. These printer-translators’ work retained residual foreignness and connected readerships across emergent national boundaries. Their negotiations with alterity were fundamental; their transmediations/translations helped new English readers understand themselves as part of a wider world.



Claudia T. Kairoff (NEH Fellow)

Jennifer Keith (NEH Fellow)


The Works of Anne Finch: A Critical Edition


In an era known for the public and political poetry of Dryden, Swift, and Pope, the poet Ann Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661-1720), articulated a different literary and political authority. From her position as a female aristocrat, once at the center of the court and then political internal exile, Finch explored the individual’s spiritual condition as inextricable from social and political phenomena. Her interest in affairs of state frequently informed her exposure of patriarchy’s constraints on women and men. Finch’s work is crucial to grounding historically our continuing questions in the humanities, including, how to articulate and connect the domains of governmental politics, personal desires, spiritual ideals, and women’s artistry and experience. Despite her importance, there is no complete scholarly edition of Finch’s work.


To respond to the value of Finch’s works and calls for a scholarly edition, Jeniffer Keith and Claudia Kairoff are editing a critical edition of Finch’s complete works—her poems, plays, and correspondence. This two-volume edition will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. Of the approximately 230 poems and two plays known to be Finch’s, 112 poems (two of them addressed to her) and both plays appear in the folio manuscript “Miscellany Poems with Two Plays by Ardelia,” housed at the Folger Shakespeare Library (shelf no. N.b. 3).



Jeremy Lopez (NEH Fellow)


Anticanons for Early Modern Drama


This book undertakes to describe, historicize, and effect a large-scale reconsideration of the canon of “non-Shakespearean” early modern drama.  During the term of my fellowship I will write two chapters for the this book.


In “Canon by Exclusion: Collecting Early Modern Drama from Dodsley to Norton,” I will write the history of the non-Shakespearean canon as it currently exists in modern anthologies, and as it has evolved since Dodsley’s Select Collection of Old Plays (1744). Analyzing these anthologies within a theoretical framework informed by contemporary scholarship and debate on canon-formation, this chapter will anatomize the editorial, aesthetic, and institutional stakes of that canon in such a way as to demonstrate that its wholesale reconsideration is timely and necessary.


In “The Heywood Problem: Texts vs. Canon” I will write a history of Heywood’s textual and (non-) canonical identity in order to examine two questions near the heart of modern scholarship’s attempt to comprehend early modern dramatic literature within the form of the canonical anthology: first, what is it about Heywood’s play-texts which has made them resistant not only to reproductions as an authorial canon, but also to inclusion within the early modern dramatic canon? And second, how is it possible to use the resistant quality in these texts as a means of revising the Shakespearean aesthetic upon which re-presentations of early modern dramatic literature are based?



Jean-Christophe Mayer (Mellon Fellow)


Reading Shakespeare’s Early Modern Readers (1590-1720)


Shakespeare’s early modern readers—those who not only bought, borrowed and circulated, but also marked and appropriated the text of his first editions—were arguably as essential to the growing status of Shakespeare’s works as those who acted, directed or went to see his plays (and indeed sometimes they were the same people). This project will focus in particular on actual readers (or “empirical” readers) and try to reconstruct their reading experience, their practices and their relation to Shakespeare’s works. It will examine the ways in which readers transformed their books and how their sense of self and their relation to the work was altered not only by the book’s physical, material space (its size, layout, etc.), but also by its symbolic value.


I will study the marginalia and other marks of use left by readers in early editions of Shakespeare. I also intend to focus on a number of significant manuscript miscellanies and commonplace books and compare them to those available on the print market, in order to explore the differences between the private practices of individuals and the techniques of established scholars, editors or academics. The variety of practices described will no doubt redefine our sometimes austere or overly intellectualized image of early modern commonplacing. More broadly, the project should help us understand how some of our most familiar reading practices were born out of the interaction between those thousands of early modern readers and the printed text of such widely read authors as Shakespeare.



Marc D. Schachter


The Uses of Desire: Philology, Epistemology, Politics


The book’s central hypothesis is that there is a history of sexuality to be told that focuses on how theories and representations of desire were linked to questions of social utility and knowledge production.  The first two chapters address questions of philology and the reception of classical texts. The third and fourth chapters consider classical and early modern materials that use sex  to instigate or reflect on the desire for knowledge. The final two chapters explore how Renaissance literary and historical texts engage with classical discussions of the role of certain kinds of desire in the founding of empires, the making of tyrants, and the assassination of bad rulers. My approach in the book seeks to contribute to our understanding of humanist, literary, and political reflections on desire particularly in Renaissance Italy and France. While it complements projects that mine literary texts for exemplary social types or for information about sex acts in the past and their social meaning, it seeks to advance the broader project of sexuality studies further by refocusing attention on transformation in the organization of knowledge and by re-imagining the history of sexuality as a genealogy of the uses of desire.


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