How to Apply: Shakespeare and the Making of America

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s 2021 Teaching Shakespeare Institute

Applications to Shakespeare and the Making of America are due by March 1, 2021.

Who Can Apply

The National Endowment for the Humanities makes clear who is eligible to apply for their programs for schoolteachers, including Shakespeare and the Making of America. Here is their language:
“These projects are designed principally for full-time or part-time teachers and librarians in public, charter, independent, and religiously affiliated schools, as well as home schooling parents. Museum educators and other K-12 school-system personnel—such as administrators, substitute teachers, and curriculum developers—are also eligible to participate. Participants must be United States citizens, residents of U.S. jurisdictions, or foreign nationals who have been residing in the United States or its territories for at least the three years immediately preceding the application deadline. Foreign nationals teaching abroad at non-U.S. chartered institutions are not eligible to apply.”
Within those eligibility guidelines, the Folger seeks participants who:
  • are intellectually curious and passionate about Shakespeare, literature, and history
  • are committed and passionate about their work in general
  • are open-minded souls who are eager to learn: looking to improve their humanities knowledge and ultimately their teaching practice
  • are good collaborators who will dive into all aspects of the program
  • have not participated in a previous NEH seminar or institute 
  • perhaps have not participated in a number of other “deep dive” learning experiences
From applicants who fit that criteria, we seek to put together a community of participants who represent (in no particular order):
  • a mix of rural, suburban, and urban schools across the country 
  • a mix of public, independent, religious, charter, and home schools
  • diversity of race, ethnicity, religion, and gender
  • diversity in years of teaching experience
  • diversity in the kinds of students you teach

Two Commonly Asked Questions About Applying

Do I Need To Be A Shakespeare Expert In Order To Apply?  Heavens, no! You need to be hungry and open-minded and eager. You also need to know why you want to be a part of this Institute and be able to tell us.

How Rigorous Is It, Really?  The work is fast-paced, exhilarating, and challenging—and there are moments when it can be overwhelming too. Our theory is this: you and your work (and your students) are so important to us that in practically every moment, we want to offer you experience, opportunities, new horizons that you can’t get anywhere else, at any other time. 

Especially after this school year, you may be looking for a program in which there is lots of time to reflect, to gain some new knowledge but also to get some kind of break. These are all absolutely worthy and important goals, but if they are, this is probably not the Institute for you.

How Do I Apply?

In brief, we ask you for the following:

  • Your contact information and some basics about your work (Where? Who? For how long?)  
  • A 2-page resume (to be uploaded) 
  • Contact information for two referees
  • Responses to eight questions about your interest, stamina, and classroom experience.
  • NOTE:  There is no big essay as part of this application.

Submit your Google Form application with attached resumé no later than March 1, 2021. 

How Do I Activate My Previous Application?

How Do I Activate My Previous Application If I Applied Last Year For The Institute That Didn’t Happen?

If you have major items to update such a new school, an entirely new kind of school population, new referees or some brilliant new answers to our questions, then please fill out a whole new application.  When you do this, please add the numbers 2020 to your name on the application so we will know that you applied last year.

  1. If you would like to activate your previous application as submitted, please do this: Send institute director O’Brien ( an email that includes the following:
    • A subject line that reads ACTIVATE MY TSI APPLICATION
    • In the body of your email, your name and school
    • As an attachment, the written answers to these four questions from this year’s application:
      • #3. What's your appetite for diving into this full on, full days, three week online adventure—and your ability to take this on after a tough school year? How will you do collaborating closely and virtually with other participants and faculty—35 new colleagues—while living at home? (200 word maximum)
      • #6. In five sentences or less, tell us what COVID has taught you.
      • #7. In five sentences or less, what have you learned about race since March 2020?
      • #8. What’s one question that we should have asked you?

    Submit all of this no later than March 1, 2021.

    What Happens After That?

    We will notify all applicants of your status on Friday, March 26, 2021. If you are an accepted applicant, you will have until Friday, April 2, 2021, to either accept or decline our offer. If you choose to decline, we will go to our list of alternates. If you are accepted and wish to join us for this fabulous three weeks, the Folger will require you to sign a document that confirms this commitment. Once you have accepted an offer to attend an NEH summer seminar or institute, you may not accept an additional offer or withdraw to accept a different offer.

    DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT ANYTHING?  Please reach out to Peggy O’Brien at