Jody Enders

Seeding scholarly inquiry

Dr. Jody Enders, Distinguished Professor of French at the University of California, Santa Barbara, first came to the Folger as a graduate student in 1981. One day, in the Romance Languages Department at the University of Pennsylvania, she saw a poster advertising opportunities to participate in an advanced seminar at the Folger Shakespeare Library. 

“I was intrigued by the offerings,” Jody recalled, “among them, a seminar on a genre to which I’d not yet been exposed.”

Jody applied for a fellowship to participate in a consortium seminar on the origins of medieval drama taught by O.B. Hardison and E. Catherine Dunn. Her travel was funded by the Institute’s consortium, of which Penn is a member. The experience was transformative.

“When Hardison’s unparalleled model met my prior training in the history of rhetoric, what followed was my own intellectual history. From that point onward, everything changed.”

Reflecting on roots

In the summer of 2019, another transformative moment began to take shape. With retirement on the horizon, Jody had never ceased to be grateful for her time spent at the Folger and for its impact on her development as a scholar. She contacted the Folger to begin a conversation that will echo for generations to come; her goal was to make available to future scholars the same type of transformative experience that she enjoyed as a budding medievalist.

In consultation with Folger staff and her attorney, Jody conceived a testamentary endowment that will seed scholarly inquiry in the areas of theater, rhetoric, and Romance and/or Arabic studies, with a special emphasis on the Middle Ages and non-British cultures. The Jody Enders Fund will support a range of programming, such as short- and long-term fellowships, performances, lectures, workshops, seminars, and exhibitions, that advance our understanding of the Middle Ages.

“The Folger has never been a stranger to Medieval Studies—especially to people like myself working in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century theater,” she wrote, “nor to broad comparatist thinking of the highest order. If anything, its intellectual universe is much more pan-European today than it was almost forty years ago.”

A transformative legacy

While contemplating her legacy, it became clear to Jody that establishing a restricted but flexible fund at the Folger would be the best way to commemorate how life-changing her time at the Folger had truly been. The Folger’s strong financial position and dedication to stewarding its unparalleled collection also influenced her thinking.

“There is something comforting about recognizing a preeminent institution like the Folger as a custodian of medieval and early-modern performance. The Folger’s precious archive and commitment to intellectual distinction will never go out of style.”

We are honored to memorialize Jody’s transformative experience through this legacy endowment, which is sure to have a magnifying effect stretching well beyond the Folger’s walls.