2020-2021 Folger Institute Scholarly Programs

Revised schedule as of September 10, 2020

While a major building renovation project is underway at the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Folger Institute is convening scholarly communities at our consortium universities. Now, we are also collectively finding our way through the COVID-19 pandemic. Through it all, the safety of our scholarly community is paramount. Together with our consortium partners, we are taking every precaution to ensure the health and well-being of those who make the Institute unique.

Adapting to New Realities

Traveling to and participating in face-to-face programs will obviously be affected through at least the fall of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some programs originally scheduled for 2020–2021 have opted to reschedule for a later date, while others are turning to online technologies to convene their participants, sometimes with new objectives and formats. In the near term, we are dedicated to finding, modeling, and sharing the best practices for moving advanced scholarly conversations online with the goal of protecting our long-standing scholarly community while still welcoming new members.

With virtual gatherings comes the possibility of expanding conversations. As some of our programs move online, we will be looking for innovative ways to increase access for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate. Regardless of whether a program is held in-person or online, all those who wish to be full participants must submit an application. 

Below are the descriptions for the programs on offer during 2020–2021. As programs are revised and adjustments are made to their formats and delivery, we will announce those changes on this page and promote them through our various channels.

As always, participants admitted through our competitive application process are encouraged to pursue their individual research interests within that program’s specific topic. Before submitting an application, read the description carefully so that you can tailor your statement of research plans to the program. Please visit our application information page for further details about the application process.

The application deadlines listed beneath each description may be adjusted as local circumstances warrant, but we typically open an application portal approximately one month before a program’s deadline.

If you have any questions about these programs, or the logistics of submitting an application, email institute@folger.edu.

Program List

Postponed Program List

Full Program Details

Food and the Book: 13001800
Organized by David B. Goldstein, Allen James Grieco, and Sarah Peters Kernan
Virtual Conference co-sponsored by the Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies and Before ‘Farm to Table’: Early Modern Foodways and Cultures, a Mellon Foundation initiative in collaborative research at the Folger Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

The growing, preparation, tasting, and eating of food are bodily phenomena. To gain access to them through the distances of history, we must turn to words and images. This interdisciplinary conference examines the book as a primary intersection for foodways throughout the early modern world. The language and imagery of food emerge in all manner of books, including recipe manuscripts, literature, historical documents, religious writings, medical treatises, and engravings, not to mention in marginal stains and other chance material encounters. The convened speakers will explore how food interacts with books as physical objects as well as mental ones. They will examine books as ways of studying food and its representations in historical perspective, especially those of marginalized and underprivileged people; and as instances of metaphorical food and sustenance in themselves. The conference will also host collaborations between scholars, food writers, and chefs, resulting in cooking experiments and discussions of current food issues that will help reinvigorate questions about early modern cuisine for a contemporary world.

Organizers: David B. Goldstein is a co-director of the Before Farm to Table project and Associate Professor of English at York University in Toronto. His publications include Eating and Ethics in Shakespeare’s England (2013), which shared the Shakespeare’s Globe Book Award, and two co-edited essay collections—Culinary Shakespeare (with Amy Tigner, 2016) and Shakespeare and Hospitality (with Julia Reinhard Lupton, 2016). Allen J. Grieco is Senior Research Associate Emeritus at Villa I Tatti (The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies). He has published extensively on the cultural history of food in Italy from the 14th to the 16th centuries including a recent volume on Food, Social Politics and the Order of the World in Renaissance Italy (2019). He is both co-editor in chief of the journal Food & History (Brepols) and Series Editor of Food Culture, Food History (13th-19thcenturies) (Amsterdam University Press). Sarah Peters Kernan PhD is an independent culinary historian based in Chicago. Her research focuses on cookbooks and culinary activity in medieval and early modern England. She is an editor of The Recipes Project and a Corresponding Member of the journal Food & History. She regularly collaborates with The Newberry Library on teaching and digital learning projects and has also worked with organizations including The Met Cloisters and the Culinary Historians of Chicago.

Schedule: This conference begins Friday, 2 October 2020 and continues through Saturday, 10 October 2020. Please see the Newberry's website for the full conference schedule.

Cost and Registration Information

This event will be free and open to the public, but advance registration will be required. Visit the Newberry website for more information.


Neighborhood, Community, and Place in Early Modern London
Christopher Highley and Alan Farmer
Online Seminar in partnership with The Ohio State University

This interdisciplinary seminar invites scholars working on the metropolis of London from roughly 1450 through 1750 to reflect on existing scholarship and to explore how new approaches might enrich and deepen our understanding of key concepts like “neighborhood,” “community,” and “place.” Drawing on online resources like the Map of Early Modern London (MoEML), the seminar plans to combine case studies of particular spaces and places—including parishes and streets, as well as bookstores, printing houses, company halls, prisons, and others suggested by participants—with discussions of methodology. The goal is to open up a number of theoretical questions with examples drawn from current research: What do literary and social historians mean by neighborhood and community? Are neighborhoods defined solely by official territorial subdivisions like parishes, precincts, and wards, or are they more elastic, improvised, imagined, and performed? And what is the relation between neighborhood and community in early modern London? Is the latter always tied to a particular place or is it a non-spatialized construct?

Directors: Christopher Highley teaches in the English department and directs the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the Ohio State University.  He is finishing a book called Blackfriars: Theater, Church, and Neighborhood in Early Modern London, and leading a parish project for 'The Map of Early Modern London.' Alan B. Farmer is an Associate Professor of English at the Ohio State University. He has published extensively on the publication of early modern playbooks. He is the co-editor, with Adam Zucker, of Localizing Caroline Drama: Politics and Economics of the Early Modern English Stage, 1625–1642 (2006), and the co-creator, with Zachary Lesser, of DEEP: Database of Early English Playbooks. His current book project is on popularity in the early modern English book trade and includes an investigation of the cultural geography of bookselling in early modern London.

Schedule: Friday and Saturday, 2 – 3 October 2020. The seminar will be conducted via Zoom. Participants will be asked to pre-circulate short papers that will form the basis of small group discussions.  We anticipate scheduling four hour-long discussion sessions over two days. The seminar will conclude with a general discussion that will also be open to a wider audience.

On Saturday, October 3, the Folger Institute welcomes everyone to join the participants of "Neighborhood, Community, and Place in Early Modern London" for an open session. This interactive session will allow participants to take part in a general discussion and ask questions related to the spatial turn in “London studies.” Learn more about where this topic currently stands and what discoveries will push the field in new directions.

The session will run from 3:30 to 4:30 Eastern Time. If you are interested, please send a request to institute@folger.edu for the Zoom link to this event.


Shakespeare in Prisons
Peter Holland, Scott Jackson, and Curt Tofteland
Fall Conference at the University of Notre Dame

Building on three previous iterations, this conference gathers theatre arts practitioners, researchers, and scholars who are currently engaged with or interested in programs for incarcerated (and post-incarcerated) populations. Designed to stimulate discussion through speakers, performances, and workshop sessions offering case studies and best practices within the Shakespeare Behind Bars movement, this conference considers a number of questions: What is the nature of Shakespeare’s exploration of prisons, prisoners, and the post-incarcerated, and how might Shakespeare speak to the realities of prison life in the United States and the experiences of returning citizens today? What are the possibilities for academic research on this work and its implications for future directions in Shakespeare studies, and how might that research intersect with, for instance, work on gender and sexuality, disability, childhood, and educational practices and pedagogies? Scholars and practitioners who are interested in sharing their experiences or learning how one works with Shakespeare and incarcerated populations are welcome to attend.

Organizers: Peter Holland is McMeel Family Professor in Shakespeare Studies in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame. He was editor of Shakespeare Survey for 19 years and co-editor of the Oxford Shakespeare Topics and Great Shakespeareans series. His edition of Coriolanus for the Arden Shakespeare 3rd series appeared in 2013. He is a General Editor of the Arden Shakespeare 4th series and currently finishing a book on Shakespeare and Forgetting. Scott Jackson has served as the Mary Irene Ryan Family Executive Director of Shakespeare at Notre Dame since the position was created in 2007. A believer in the power of the theatre arts to effect positive social change, he is a co-founder of the Shakespeare in Prisons Network and teaches a weekly Shakespeare in performance course at the Westville Correctional Facility. Curt L. Tofteland is the Founder of the internationally acclaimed Shakespeare Behind Bars program, now in its 25th year of continuous operation. SBB is the subject of award-winning documentary by Philomath Films. Curt was the Producing Artistic Director of Kentucky Shakespeare Festival from 1989-2008. During his twenty-year tenure, he produced fifty Shakespeare productions, directed twenty-five, and acted in eight. As a professional director and an Equity actor, he has 200+ professional productions to his credit. Additionally, he has presented 400+ performances of his one man show Shakespeare’s Clownes: A Foole’s Guide to Shakespeare.

Schedule: This virtual program will begin on 9 November 2020. This online conference will consist of a series of keynotes, panels, and community discussions (no more than two events per week). More information coming soon.


Researching the Archive
Joyce E. Chaplin and Julie Crawford
Dissertation Seminar

This program focuses on the use of primary materials available for the study of the history, culture, society, and literature of early modern Britain, Europe, and the Atlantic World, broadly conceived. During the two scheduled sessions, participants will explore a variety of printed and manuscript sources relevant to both English and History Ph.D. candidates, and they will learn (with the assistance of staff at the host university libraries) essential research skills. The goal throughout will be to foster interdisciplinary scholarship while considering broad methodological and theoretical problems relevant to current work in early modern studies. Preference will be given to applicants who have completed course work and preliminary exams; they should be preparing a prospectus or beginning to write chapters and be ready to make significant use of archival and special collections as part of their visits. Applicants should consult with their dissertation directors before applying to ensure that their work is at a stage that would benefit from the seminar, and their directors should certify that this is the case in their recommendation letters. Those whose dissertations are substantially complete will not be competitive applicants.

DirectorsJoyce E. Chaplin is the James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History at Harvard University. A former Fulbright Scholar and Guggenheim Fellow, she has published five monographs, one co-authored book, and two Norton Critical Editions. She did research for her second book, Subject Matter: Technology, the Body, and Science on the Anglo-American Frontier, 15001676 (2001), at the Folger. Julie Crawford is the Mark van Doren Professor of Humanities in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the author of Marvelous Protestantism (2004), Mediatrix (2014), and numerous essays on authors ranging from Shakespeare to Anne Clifford and on topics ranging from the history of reading to the history of sexuality. In 2016 she taught a Folger Seminar on Cavendish and Hutchinson, and she is currently completing a book manuscript entitled “Margaret Cavendish’s Political Career."

Schedule: This program is currently being revised; more information will be posted on this site. Should in-person meetings be possible, grant-in-aid awards will be extended to all those admitted. 

Apply8 July 2020. Only Folger Institute consortium affiliates may apply.


New Research and Performance Directions in Premodern Disability Studies
Allison P. Hobgood and Sheila T. Cavanagh
Spring Weekend Seminar at Emory University

Centering intersectional approaches, transnational sensibilities, and radical pedagogies, this seminar will bring together teacher-scholars working on disability studies from both textual and performance-based perspectives. It will build on established work in medieval and early modern disability studies to consider new avenues of inquiry, cultural histories, performative possibilities, and theoretical modalities. What do practitioners learn when premodern disability studies intersects with critical race studies, queer theory, and other minoritarian analytics? What can be discovered about the embodied materiality of these theoretical interventions when exploring how disabled actors and audiences, in the past and present, engage with premodern drama and literature? In collaboration with Emory University and its Stuart Rose Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Library, participants in this seminar will have opportunities to hear from leading experts in disability studies, explore new archives, and dynamically dialogue as they investigate how writers, texts, performers, and performances have—then and now—understood, experienced, and responded to bodymind difference.

Directors: Allison P. Hobgood is Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies at Willamette University. Her publications include Recovering Disability in Early Modern England (2013), a special issue of Pedagogy (2015) on disability pedagogies, and essays in Teaching Social Justice Through Shakespeare (2019), The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Disability (2017), and Disability, Health, and Happiness in the Shakespearean Body (2015). Sheila T. Cavanagh is Professor of English at Emory University and Director of the World Shakespeare Project. She served as Fulbright Global Shakespeare Centre Distinguished Chair and as Director of Emory’s Year of Shakespeare. Author of books on Spenser and Lady Mary Wroth, she has published widely on international Shakespeare, pedagogy; and accessibility in Shakespearean teaching and performance.

Schedule: Thursday evening through Saturday, 4 – 6 March 2021.

Apply: 18 January 2021 for admission and grants-in-aid.


Reading Scotland before 1707
Margaret ConnollyRhiannon PurdieJane Pettegree, and Harriet Archer
Spring Symposium at the University of St Andrews

The early modern period in Scotland was a time of extraordinary cultural ferment, creativity, and transformation. This symposium will consider vital questions of Scotland’s history and culture from the late fifteenth century through the unions of the crowns (1603) and parliaments (1707), regarding both Scotland’s relationship with England and its place in relation to Europe and the European Renaissance. How did Scotland negotiate its own complex heritage—its distinctive history, languages, and political institutions—in an era when it was assuming greater prominence on the European stage? The symposium will explore how far issues and themes that have dominated the wider field of early modern studies in recent years are applicable to Scotland. These include: the nature and extent of political power; constructions of nation, identity, race, and gender in early modern society; the social performance of these identities through the spoken word, drama, and music; the transition from manuscript to print; the presence and force of the classics and classical literature; the status of the vernacular as a literary language; and notions of periodization.

Organizers: Dr Margaret Connolly is Senior Lecturer in English and History at the University of St Andrews and Director of the St Andrews Institute of Medieval Studies. Her publications include Sixteenth-Century Readers, Fifteenth-Century Books: Continuities of Reading in the English Reformation (2019), and John Shirley: Book Production and the Noble Household in Fifteenth-Century England (1998). Professor Rhiannon Purdie is Professor of English and Older Scots at the University of St Andrews. She is the Editorial Secretary for the Scottish Text Society and a trustee of the Scottish Medievalists. Recent publications include Six Scottish Courtly and Chivalric Poems (with Emily Wingfield)an edition of Shorter Scottish Medieval Romances, and articles on late medieval Scots literature, medieval romance, and Chaucer. Dr Jane Pettegree is Head of Curriculum at the University of St Andrews Music Centre, where she teaches ethnomusicology and the connections between words, music and drama. Author of Foreign and Native on the English Stage, 1588–1611: Metaphor and National Identity (2011), her recent activity has included re-enactive use of masques and early opera in public research engagement. Dr Harriet Archer is Lecturer in Early Modern English Literature at the University of St Andrews. She is currently working on intersections between imaginative historiography, discourses of political advice, and the environmental humanities. She is the author of Unperfect Histories: The Mirror for Magistrates, 15591610 (Oxford UP, 2017), and co-editor with Paul Frazer of Norton and Sackville’s Gorboduc (Manchester Revels, forthcoming).

Invited Speakers: Plenary presentations from Sally Mapstone (University of St Andrews) and Michael Brown (University of St Andrews) on Friday evening will be followed by two days of sessions. Invited speakers include: Sarah Carpenter (University of Edinburgh), Elizabeth Ewan (University of Guelph), Lorna Hutson (University of Oxford), John McGavin (University of Southampton), Roger Mason (University of St Andrews), Elaine Moohan (Open University), David J. Parkinson (University of Saskatchewan), Alessandra Petrina (Università degli Studi di Padova), Andrew Pettegree (University of St Andrews), Beth Quitslund (Ohio University), Jamie Reid Baxter (University of Glasgow), Nicola Royan (University of Nottingham), Helen Vincent (National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh), Emily Wingfield (University of Birmingham), and Georgianna Ziegler (Folger Shakespeare Library).

Schedule: Friday evening through Sunday, 27 – 28 March 2021.

Apply: 14 December 2020 for admission and grants-in-aid.


Out of the Archive: Digital Projects as Early Modern Research Objects
Margaret Simon and Christopher Warren, with Christopher Crosbie
Spring Weekend Seminar at North Carolina State University

How do the digital humanities reconfigure our sense of “the archive?” As instantiations of humanistic inquiry during a period of rapid technological change, digital artifacts become research objects in their own right. Digital projects continually reshape our modes of accessing traditional archival objects and the very questions we ask of them. Supported by North Carolina State’s extensive digital technologies infrastructure, this seminar will combine discussion of shared readings with workshop experimentation on digital projects to consider a range of questions. What do digital models reveal about scholarly definitions of historical research? How might digital praxis, the exploration of multimodal research objects, and new forms of scholarly communication change researchers’ thinking about early modern communicative practices? How can digital methodologies accommodate diverse communities and improve the politics of access? What might we learn about the scope of the archive as we consider early modern research in distributed, digital, and often data-driven contexts? Those working in early modern studies, archives, library science, and digital scholarship are welcome to apply.

Organizers: Margaret Simon is Associate Professor of English at North Carolina State University. Her current book project—“Open Books: Multi-Materiality and the English Renaissance Codex”—demonstrates how the early modern codex collects and represents other text technologies—from scrolls to epigraphy to object-oriented posies—which fundamentally reshape the symbolic authority as well as the physical and conceptual borders of the early modern book. She has contributed to Debates in the Digital Humanities 2021: Institutions, Infrastructures at the Interstices. Christopher Warren is Associate Professor of English and, by courtesy, History at Carnegie Mellon University. His research spans digital humanities, early modern literature, print culture, and the history of political thought. He is author of the award-winning Literature and the Law of Nations, 1580-1680 and co-founder of Six Degrees of Francis Bacon. He is currently developing computer-assisted methods to identify clandestine early modern printers.

Program: Anupam Basu (Washington University in St. Louis) will deliver a plenary presentation on Thursday evening. Professor Basu is an assistant professor of English at Washington University in Saint Louis. An early-modernist working on print culture and drama, his work has increasingly succumbed to the seductions of scale as he develops techniques to make the entire EEBO-TCP corpus tractable for search and analysis. Anupam has used the data behind EarlyPrint to explore the standardization of English orthography and Spenser's archaism. He is currently working on a monograph on form and scale that asks how we might rethink literary forms through computational analysis. He has also published on the representation of poverty, vagrancy, and criminality in popular literature.

Schedule: Thursday evening through Saturday, 22 – 24 April 2021. Following the Thursday evening plenary presentation, two days of seminar will mix discussion with hands-on experimentation with digital tools.

Apply: 18 January 2021 for admission and grants-in-aid.


John Locke and England’s Empire
David Armitage
Weekend Seminar at the John Carter Brown Library

Sponsored by the Folger Institute Center for the History of British Political Thought

By the end of his life, John Locke (1632-1704) was one of the two or three best informed observers of England’s Atlantic empire. Early in his career, as a client of the Earl of Shaftesbury, he had been involved with the Bahamas, the Royal African Company, and the Carolina colony; towards its close, as secretary to the newly founded Board of Trade, he gained intimate knowledge of English labor and penal policy, the Irish economy, and the North American colonies from New York to Virginia. Throughout, he was engaged with slavery, property, Indigenous policy, agricultural improvement, gender and family relations, constitutionalism, expropriation, and migration, among other topics. Welcoming up to twelve participants, this seminar will examine the late seventeenth-century English empire through Locke’s eyes, using newly edited texts of his colonial writings alongside contemporary pamphlets, travel literature, and manuscript material drawn from the unique resources of the John Carter Brown Library. Participants will work together to determine what Locke knew and when, and how this knowledge shaped his writings, especially the Two Treatises of Government.

Director: David Armitage is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University. His books include The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (2000), Foundations of Modern International Thought (2013), and Civil Wars: A History in Ideas (2017). His edition of Locke’s colonial writings will appear in the Oxford University Press Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke; he is now working on a global history of treaty-making and treaty-breaking since the early modern period.

The John Carter Brown Library, an independent research library established in 1846 and located since 1904 on the campus of Brown University, brings together a world-class collection of books, maps and manuscripts focusing on America – North and South – from the earliest decades of print to the middle of the nineteenth century. By preserving, expanding, and providing enhanced access to its world-renowned collection, the JCB inspires scholarship, stimulates innovative and creative engagement with its materials, and connects communities around the world to the history and culture of the early Americas.

Schedule: Friday and Saturday, 30 April – 1 May 2021.

Apply: 18 January 2021 for admission and grants-in-aid.


Reimagining Andrew Marvell: The Poet at 400
Matthew Augustine and Giulio Pertile
Spring Weekend Colloquium at the University of St Andrews

This weekend colloquium brings together an international team of scholars to celebrate the approaching quatercentenary of Andrew Marvell’s birth. Its aims are twofold: to chart the advances in Marvell scholarship since the publication of landmark editions of Marvell’s poetry and prose at the start of the millennium; and to inaugurate a new century of Marvell studies, of fresh approaches and new contexts. Perhaps the most important contribution to the last anniversary conference on Marvell, in 1978, was made by Christopher Hill, who insisted on seeing politics as essential to Marvell’s writing. In this colloquium, we mean to build on the superb historical scholarship that has emerged since then by seeking an even broader, more elastic concept of the political. At the same time, in asking what comes “after” politics, this colloquium also calls for renewed attention to Marvell’s verse in the context of recent work on the relationship between literature and the environment, affect, and cognition. The strong tradition of editing and archival research which surrounds Marvell serves to remind us that all such inquiry is conditioned by the materiality of reading, writing, and reception.

OrganizersMatthew Augustine and Giulio Pertile are Senior Lecturer and Lecturer, respectively, in the School of English at the University of St Andrews.

Invited speakersMartin Dzelzainis (University of Leicester); James Loxley (University of Edinburgh); Nicholas McDowell (University of Exeter); Victoria Moul (University College London); David Norbrook (University of Oxford); Tessie Prakas (Scripps College); Joanna Picciotto (University of California, Berkeley); Diane Purkiss (University of Oxford); Jacqueline Rose (University of St Andrews); Nigel Smith (Princeton University); Noël Sugimura (University of Oxford); Gordon Teskey (Harvard University); Esther van Raamsdonk (Queen Mary University of London); Nicholas von Maltzahn (University of Ottawa); and Steven N. Zwicker (Washington University, St Louis).

Schedule: Thursday and Friday, 6 – 7 May 2021. This program is currently being revised; more information will be posted on this site and at the conference website.  

We do not anticipate accepting new travel funding requests for this program. For those who wish to attend, please register here.


Introduction to English Paleography
Heather Wolfe
Weeklong Skills Course at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

This weeklong course provides an intensive introduction to handwriting in early modern England, with a particular emphasis on the English secretary hand of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Working from digitized manuscripts in the Folger collection and manuscripts from the Center for Renaissance Studies, up to fifteen participants will be trained in the accurate reading and transcription of secretary, italic, and mixed hands. They will also experiment with contemporary writing materials (quills, iron gall ink, and paper); learn the terminology for describing and comparing letterforms; and become skillful decipherers of abbreviations, numbers, and dates. All transcriptions made by participants will become part of the Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO) corpus.

DirectorHeather Wolfe is Curator of Manuscripts and Associate Librarian of Audience Development at the Folger Shakespeare Library, co-director of the multi-year research project Before 'Farm to Table': Early Modern Foodways and Cultures, and principal investigator of Early Modern Manuscripts Online. Author of numerous articles on early modern manuscripts, she has edited The Literary Career and Legacy of Elizabeth Cary, 1613–1680 (2007), The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608: A Facsimile Edition of Folger Shakespeare Library MS V.b.232 (2007), Letterwriting in Renaissance England (2004) (with Alan Stewart), and Elizabeth Cary, Lady Falkland: Life and Letters (2001). Her current research explores the social circulation of writing paper and blank books and Shakespeare’s coat of arms. 

Schedule: Monday through Friday, 17 – 21 May 2021

Apply: 2 March 2021 for admission and grants-in-aid. Mellon Foundation support extends eligibility to all North American scholars.


An Orientation to Research Methods and Agendas
Marcy NorthClaire M. L. Bourne, and Whitney Trettien
Summer Intensive Skills Course at Pennsylvania State University

The best research is based on inquiry and allows for serendipity. A scholar needs to sharpen research questions and search skills simultaneously and with sensitivity to the ways questions and sources affect each other. The available evidence may invite a new thesis, require a revised approach, or even suggest a new field of exploration. This intensive week is not designed to advance participants’ individual research projects. Rather, it aims to cultivate the participants’ curiosity about primary resources by using exercises that engage their research interests. It is offered to help early-stage graduate students develop a set of research-oriented literacies as they explore Penn State’s special collections in ways that will be useful for navigating other collections. With the guidance of visiting faculty and curatorial staff from the Folger and Penn State Libraries, up to two dozen participants will examine bibliographical tools and their logics, hone their early modern book description skills, learn best practices for organizing and working with digital images, and improve their understanding of the cultural and technological histories of texts. Participants will ask reflexive questions about the nature of primary sources, the collections that house them, and the tools whereby one can access them.

OrganizersMarcy North is Associate Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University and author of The Anonymous Renaissance and numerous articles on early print, manuscript, and women’s writings. She has directed a previous Folger seminar and participated in the Folger's Teaching Paleography and Advanced Paleography  workshops. She is finishing a book on the intersection of labor and taste in the production of post-print manuscripts. Claire M. L. Bourne is Assistant Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of Typographies of Performance in Early Modern England (forthcoming), which was supported by a long-term Folger fellowship, and is currently editing 1 Henry the Sixth for the Arden Shakespeare (4th series). Whitney Trettien teaches digital humanities and book history at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is Assistant Professor of English. She is the author of Cut/Copy/Paste, a hybrid monograph on digital book history currently being staged on Manifold Scholarship through University of Minnesota Press.

Schedule: Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., 31 May – 4 June 2021.

Apply2 March 2021 for admission and grants-in-aid. This skills course is intended for students in the early years of graduate work. In addition to following the general application guidelines, applicants for this course should describe a research question, the motivating reason to look to primary sources to answer this question, and any previous experience with early modern materials. If a participant is able to arrange for one graduate credit on the home campus under the direction of an on-campus advisor, the Institute will certify participation.


Making Meaning: Hands-on Basic Paleography and Book Production
Margaret J.M. Ezell and Kevin M. O’Sullivan
Summer Intensive Skills Course at Texas A&M University

Integrating traditional seminar-based discussion with experiential inquiry, this course will investigate the physical means of knowledge production during the early modern period. Daily lab sessions concentrating on historical book production will include hands-on exercises in allied trades such as typecasting, papermaking, ink-making, typesetting, and hand-press printing. In addition to this print-oriented praxis, participants will also experience manuscript production through experimentation with contemporary writing materials such as goose quills and iron gall ink as part of their paleography work. Throughout the week, guided discussions of assigned theoretical readings will synthesize issues raised by the hands-on practice within a wider theoretical framework on media intersections. The course will seek to demonstrate the ways technologies of textual production drove meaning-making in the early modern period and foster an understanding of the rich interrelations between the manuscript tradition and renaissance printing. Equipped with these skills, participants will be able not only to read and analyze the texts, but to locate their place in the larger context of early modern written culture.

Directors: Margaret J.M. Ezell is Distinguished Professor of English and the John and Sara H. Lindsey Chair of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University. In her most recent work, the Oxford English Literary History, Volume V: 16451714, the Later Seventeenth Century, she offers an alternative model of literary history exploring how oral traditions, handwritten manuscript practices, and print media intersected and influenced each other. Kevin M. O’Sullivan is Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts for the Cushing Memorial Library & Archives at Texas A&M University, where he also serves as the Director of the Book History Workshop. He is a founding partner of the 3Dhotbed Project, a collaborative digital humanities effort that seeks to enhance book history instruction through 3D technologies. They will be joined by Heather Wolfe (Curator of Manuscripts and Associate Librarian of Audience Development at the Folger Shakespeare Library).

Schedule: Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., 12 – 16 July 2021.

Apply2 March 2021 for admission and grants-in-aid.


Postponed Program Details

Early Modern Intersections in the American South
Heather M. Kopelson, Jenny Shaw, and Cassander L. Smith
Spring Symposium at the University of Alabama

What is “early modern” about the region we now call the American South? Historically, we point to the rise of plantation cultures and then Indian Removal policies and the American Civil War as formative in the development of this region in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This symposium, however, will offer participants the opportunity to consider the early modern contours of the American South by re-thinking its temporal and geographical boundaries. Specifically, the symposium will explore the multiple meanings of the American South through the prisms of race, slavery, and indigeneity in the centuries surrounding the arrival of Europeans and Africans in the Americas. 

OrganizersHeather M. Kopelson is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Alabama and is also affiliated with the Gender and Race Studies Department. She is the author of Faithful Bodies: Performing Race and Religion in the Puritan Atlantic (2014) and is currently writing a book with the working title, “Speaking Objects: Indigenous Women and the Materials of Dance in the Americas, 1500–1700.” Jenny Shaw is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Alabama. Her research focuses on race, enslavement, and colonization in the English Atlantic. The author of Everyday Life in the Early English Caribbean: Irish, Africans, and the Construction of Difference, she is completing a serial biography of five women who bore children with the same Barbados planter. Cassander L. Smith is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Alabama. She is the author of Black Africans in the British Imagination: English Narratives of the Early Atlantic World (2016). Currently, she is wrapping up a book about respectability politics and an early modern black Atlantic.

Schedule: This program is currently being revised as a 2021–2022 offering. More information will be posted on this site. In February 2021 a roundtable highlighting some of the key themes of the symposium will be livestreamed as part of the Folger Institute's "Critical Race Conversations" series; more information will be posted on that site.


The Global Atlantic
Philip Morgan and François Furstenberg
Yearlong Colloquium at the Johns Hopkins University

This yearlong colloquium takes stock of the field of Atlantic History in order to assess where the current strengths of the scholarship lie and to map future directions for research. It seeks to critically explore the relationship between the Atlantic and Global frameworks that have structured so much historical research and production. In a world increasingly concerned with the political limits of globalization and its economic and environmental costs, Atlantic history offers an opportunity, as an analytic paradigm, to contend precisely with the historical roots of this sharp increase in modern interconnectedness. 

Directors: Philip Morgan, Harry C. Black Professor of History at the Johns Hopkins University, focuses particularly on slavery in North America, but his scholarship also ranges widely across many aspects of the Atlantic World. He is currently at work on a history of the Caribbean and Wider World, c. 1450 to 1850. François Furstenberg focuses on early American history and the Atlantic World. Professor of History at the Johns Hopkins University, he is currently at work on projects related to U.S. expansion in the Early Republic, and on the historical writing of Frederick Jackson Turner. 

Schedule: This program is currently being revised as a 2021–2022 offering. More information will be posted on this site.