Shakespeare and the Making of America

Teaching Shakespeare Institute UPDATE

The Folger’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, offers middle and high school teachers an experience both intense and joyful deep-diving into Shakespeare from the perspectives of scholarship, performance, and curriculum. Admission is competitive; successful applicants are awarded an NEH stipend.

Due to COVID-19, Teaching Shakespeare 2020: Shakespeare and the Making of America was postponed until June 27 - July 17, 2021. While there will be some minor changes in the 2021 program, a general idea of topics, work and expectations can be had by reviewing the description of the 2020 “lost” institute below.


 


The Folger Shakespeare Library’s 2020 Teaching Shakespeare Institute

An NEH-funded Institute in partnership with The College of William and Mary, The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Historic Jamestowne and Colonial Williamsburg

When: June 28 – July 18, 2020 (a three-week institute)

Where: The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA

What: Twenty-five middle and high school teachers will join with a multi-faceted faculty in Jamestown and Williamsburg for three weeks of deep study in how American colonization shaped Shakespeare’s work and how Shakespeare’s work shaped America—for well or ill.  


Is Shakespeare and the Making of America similar to other Folger Teaching Shakespeare Institutes? 

Yes, it is similar in these two ways:

  • As ever, we will explore plays—this summer, The Tempest and The Merchant of Venice—through the lenses of scholarly research, performance, and the Folger Method’s surefire way to teach them in your classroom. 
  • The Folger Method’s foundations will be in force: language as the portal into all complex texts, equity and inclusion, and the ability of every student to read closely and demonstrate knowledge.

But it is very different in a whole lot of other important ways:

  • We will study history as much as we’ll study Shakespeare:
    • not just Tempest and Merchant, but also John Smith’s A True Relation of Such Occurrences and Accidents of Note as Hath Hapned in Virginia Since the First Planting of that Colony, which is now resident in the South part thereof, till the last returne from thence (1608); a selection of runaway slave advertisements (c.1751), the Declaration of Independence (1776), and more.
    • attention to both the lost and found history of this period, on both sides of the Atlantic, through the lens of Early Modern Race Studies.
  • We will ask consuming questions:
    • what does history (recently revealed or reconsidered) tell us about black, brown, and indigenous people and the roles they played, both in Early Modern Europe and in America before it was America?
    • How did these revelations shape his plays then and our notions of him and his plays now? How does the current work at Jamestown and Williamsburg inform these revelations?
    • How will this new knowledge and these new discoveries expand or change our sense of this playwright? And our teaching of how to teach all of Shakespeare’s plays?
  • In considering all of these materials, questions and interactions with Jamestown and Williamsburg, we will all break new ground together.

Real Talk:

If you teach Tempest and/or Merchant, and you are primarily interested in exploring and in learning how to teach these two plays from a literary perspective, this is perhaps not the right experience for you. (We have a number of ways to help you with that, too. Reach out!)

However, . . .

  • If you want to study the literature and history in depth and with a fuller picture of the roles of indigenous, black, brown, and Latinx people, as well as specifics of the crash and flow of Renaissance literature and culture with the American Experiment…
  • If you are open-minded, have high energy, are an excellent collaborator, and can embrace ambiguity . . .
  • If you have a sense of adventure and an appetite for digging deep and breaking new ground . . .

Then . . .  Shakespeare and the Making of America could be the institute for you.


Participants will dive into: The Tempest (c.1611); The Merchant of Venice (c.1596); John Smith’s A True Relation of Such Occurrences and Accidents of Note as Hath Hapned in Virginia Since the First Planting of that Colony, which is now resident in the South part thereof, till the last returne from thence (1608); a selection of runaway slave advertisements (c.1751); the Declaration of Independence (1776), and ongoing work in Historic Jamestowne (2020)



Leadership

Institute Director: Dr. Peggy O’Brien, Director of Education, Folger Shakespeare Library

Head Scholar: Dr. Ellen MacKay, Associate Professor of English, University of Chicago

Read an invitation from Peggy O'Brien and Ellen MacKay



Logistics

Housing: The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA

NEH Stipend Awarded to Each Participant: $2700

Availability of Additional Funding: The NEH stipend pays for some but not all of participant expenses. If you are eager to participate in this program but would be unable to do so without further financial assistance, a limited number of grants—for travel and other unmet needs—are available through Folger’s donor-supported The Will to Teach Fund. These grants will supplement your NEH stipend.

How to apply for a The Will To Teach Fund grant: At the same time that you submit your application to Shakespeare and the Making of America, send an email of one paragraph to Peggy O’Brien (pobrien@folger.edu) detailing the support you need and why. Be sure to include (1) the reason you are making this request, and (2) the amount and specifics of your request, i.e. “a round-trip flight from Hometown to DC @ $xxx”.

More information about program logistics



Application Information

Applications Due: New deadline TBD

Should You Apply?

If you are a middle or high school teacher and you have an appetite for the real thing: studying the literature and history in depth and with a fuller picture of the roles of indigenous, black, brown, and Latinx people, please consider applying. If you are eager to learn how the Folger Method of teaching literature can connect your students with the real thing too, please consider applying. If you are open-minded, have high energy, and are an excellent collaborator, please consider applying. If you are hungry to learn from and right alongside the faculty—just like you do with your students—please consider applying. If you have a sense of adventure and an appetite for going beyond and for breaking new ground, this could be the institute for you! 

Questions or Clarifications: Please don’t hesitate to email Peggy O’Brien at pobrien@folger.edu.



Faculty

Resident Faculty:

Dr. Ellen MacKay, University of Chicago, Head Scholar
Dr. Kyle Grady, University of California at Irvine
Caleen Jennings, American University
Michael Tolaydo, St. Mary’s College of MD, emeritus
Stefanie Jochman, Trinity Episcopal School, Richmond, VA
Heather Lester, International School at LaGuardia Community College, NY, NY
Mark Summers, Director of Public and Youth Programs, Historic Jamestowne
Dr. Peggy O’Brien, Folger Shakespeare Library, Institute Director

Visiting Faculty:

Dr. Katherine Rowe, President, College of William and Mary
Dr. Michael Witmore, Director, Folger Shakespeare Library
Dr. James Horn, President, Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation
Dr. Karin Wulf, College of William and Mary and Executive Director, Omohundro Institute

This program is supported by funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities