Special Courses for Graduate Students


Introduction to English Paleography (weeklong intensive skills course), Directed by Heather Wolfe

Co-sponsored with the Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies, 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 and physical manuscripts, up to twelve participants will be trained in the accurate reading and transcription of secretary, italic, and mixed hands. In conjunction with the Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies’ Renaissance of the Earth research program, the workshop will include estate accounts, annotated almanacs, and household inventories that showcase how early moderns were practically and imaginatively transforming the earth. Recipe books, personal correspondence, and poetry miscellanies will also be drawn from the Folger collection. Participants will 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, Dr. Wolfe has edited The Literary Career and Legacy of Elizabeth Cary, 16131680 (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.

Anticipated Schedule: Monday through Friday, 23–27 May 2022 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Apply: 7 March 2022 for admission and grants-in-aid. 





The Global Atlantic, a 2021-2022 Folger Institute Colloquium

Please let your early career colleagues and advanced graduate students know that Professors Philip Morgan and François Furstenberg will co-direct “The Global Atlantic,” a 2021-2022 Folger Institute colloquium that is co-sponsored with Johns Hopkins University. While the invited speakers listed below will present and lead discussion on their respective topics, the workshopping of seminar participants’ scholarship will be a central focus of the monthly meetings.

Description: 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. This monthly 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.

Directors: Philip Morgan, Harry C. Black Professor of History at 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 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.

Invited Speakers: An opening roundtable will include Alison Games (Georgetown University) and Neil Safier (Brown University). Confirmed speakers include: Sam White (The Ohio State University) and John McNeill (Georgetown University) on the Atlantic environment; Barbara Mundy (Fordham University) on Indigenous confrontations with the Atlantic; Pablo Gomez (University of Wisconsin) on the “Plantationocene”; Marcy Norton (University of Pennsylvania) on materialities; Surekha Davies (University of Utrecht) and Earle Havens (Johns Hopkins University) on cartography and book history; Byron Hamann (The Ohio State University) on archives; and Matt Matsuda (Rutgers University) on thinking beyond the Atlantic.

Anticipated Schedule: Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., 8 October, 12 November, 10 December 2021; 14 January, 11 February, 15 April, and 13 May 2022 at Johns Hopkins University. Fall 2021 sessions may be held virtually depending on local conditions. On 10–12 March 2022, colloquium participants will join a conference on Richard Eden and Peter Martyr organized by Surekha Davies and Earle Havens.

Apply: 2 August 2021 for admission and grants-in-aid.

Questions? Please contact institute@folger.edu.


Researching and Writing the Early Modern Dissertation” in 2021-2022, a year long Folger Institute dissertation seminar led by Professors Joyce Chaplin (Harvard University) and Julie Crawford (Columbia University)

Please let your graduate students know that Professors Joyce Chaplin (Harvard University) and Julie Crawford (Columbia University) will co-direct “Researching and Writing the Early Modern Dissertation” in 2021-2022.

Description: 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. Should conditions allow, participants will visit rare materials collections in the spring to explore a variety of printed and manuscript sources relevant to Ph.D. candidates in history and literature, and they will learn (with the assistance of staff at the host university libraries) essential research skills as well as strategies for working with digital resources and remediated rare materials. The goal throughout will be to foster interdisciplinary scholarship while considering broad methodological and theoretical problems relevant to current work in early modern studies, especially when working in fields that contain deliberate elisions and silences in their historical archives. 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. 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.

Directors: Joyce 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, 1500–1676 (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."

Anticipated Schedule: Participants will meet virtually Friday and Saturday, 1-2 October 2021, 17-18 December 2021, and 10-11 June 2022. In the spring, participants will also travel to special collections in New York and Boston that are relevant to their dissertation projects; further details will be available in the fall for admitted participants.

Apply: 2 August 2021 for admission and grants-in-aid. This program is only open to consortium affiliates.

Questions? Please contact institute@folger.edu.


John Locke and England's Empire

Directed by David Armitage

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, a member of 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 potentially 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. Participants will work together to determine what Locke knew and when; how this knowledge shaped his writings, especially the Two Treatises of Government; and what follows from scholars privileging him as their guide to understanding England’s empire.

DirectorDavid 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.

Schedule: On Thursday afternoon, 18 November 2021, Mark Goldie, FRHistS, will offer an open session on Locke, political thought, and empire. On Friday and Saturday, admitted seminar participants will focus their discussion on short, pre-circulated pieces.

Apply: 7 September 2021 for admission. Applicants should provide an abstract of the topics they plan to discuss in their pre-circulated pieces in addition to describing the ways that participation in this seminar will advance their research interests.

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