The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

The Folger Institute Partners with the Shakespeare Association of America on a New Fellowship

The Folger Institute is pleased to announce a new fellowship in partnership with the Shakespeare Association of America, designed to promote scholarly work on William Shakespeare, his works, and their joined legacies.

The Shakespeare Association of America (SAA) is a non-profit professional organization for the advanced academic study of William Shakespeare’s plays and poems, his cultural and theatrical contexts, and the many roles these have played in world culture. Since its founding in 1972, the SAA has held annual conferences that convene in a different location each year, generally in late March or early April. SAA members meet to exchange ideas and strategies for reading, teaching, researching, and writing about topics of shared interest. Sessions at the meeting include seminars, workshops, panel presentations, round-table discussions, film screenings, theatrical performances, and teaching workshops. The distinguishing feature of the SAA conference is its program of working research seminars. The conference year begins each June with the announcement of a new roster of the seminars and workshops in which its members’ collaborative engagements will take place. All seminars and workshops entail significant work completed and circulated in advance of the conference, where enrolled participants share and discuss research papers, common readings, performance exercises, digital projects, and other academic undertakings. SAA seminars and workshops have proved to be uniquely effective forums in which to develop material for scholarly publication. They offer opportunities to try out ideas and receive useful responses.

In this same spirit of collaboration and collegiality, the Folger Institute will partner with the SAA on a joint fellowship each year. FI-SAA fellows can apply for residencies of one, two, or three months. Applicants must be SAA members in good standing and must hold terminal degrees in their field. All applications should be made directly to the Folger via our application portal by the annual short-term fellowship deadline of 1 March.

The Folger’s collections provide innumerable resources for scholars of Shakespeare, as the library is home to the world’s largest collection of materials relating to the author and his works, from the sixteenth century through to the present day. The Folger’s Shakespeare collection began in 1889 with Henry Folger’s very first rare book purchase: a copy of the 1685 Fourth Folio, for which he paid $107.50. Today the collection boasts nearly 200 early quartos of Shakespeare plays, as well as a remarkable 82 copies of the famous First Folio of 1623.

STC 22273 Fo.1 no.09, front endleaf 3v (To the Reader) & title page A1r

Editions of Shakespeare, from miniature volumes in traveling cases to large illustrated tomes, are a key part of the Folger’s holdings. These include 19th and early 20th century school primers (such as the McGuffey Readers), classroom editions, and serials. We are particularly proud of our translations of Shakespeare, and hold versions and adaptations of his works in dozens of languages: Hindi, Kazakh, Japanese, Maltese, Romanian, Urdu, Ukranian, and many more.

Title page of The Merchant of Venice, Bengali translation, 1918. (Folger PR2796 .B3 M3 A1 Sh.Col.)

But the Folger also holds material on Shakespeare from all time periods and around the world: not only books, manuscripts, and prints, but also paintings, photographs, film, sound recordings, ephemera, and objects relating to the cult of Shakespeare and Shakespearean performance. Items relating to performance history include a massive array of resources on past productions, including about 250,000 playbills and some 2,000 promptbooks, as well as films, recordings, and the papers of theatrical figures known for their Shakespearean roles, from Julia Marlowe to Lynn Redgrave, and from David Garrick to Laurence Olivier. Of particular note in this performance collection are papers, photographs, and pamphlets on the Shakespearean performances of the inimitable Paul Robeson, including Robeson’s own costume designs and sketches.

Lynn Redgrave in An Evening with Lynn Redgrave: Reminiscences of the Redgrave Family on the Shakespearean Stage, Folger Theatre, 1991. This later became the Tony-nominated Shakespeare for My Father.
Robert Edmond Jones. Costume design for Paul Robeson as “Othello”. Ink and gouache drawing with fabric swatches attached, 1943. (ART Box J79 no.1)

Less well-known and certainly less venerable, but still remarkably engaging, is the Folger Library’s unique “Sh.Misc.” collection of Shakespeare Miscellanea. This wide-ranging and eclectic group of sources offers adaptations and variations on Shakespeare in nearly any form: graphic novels, Stratford souvenirs, Shakespeare erotica, sonnet remixes, early 20th century fanfic, and (sure to be a future internet sensation) even Shakespeare cat calendars.

The Shakespeare cat calendar. No wall is complete without one. (Folger Sh.Misc. 2280)

The inaugural FI-SAA fellow will be in residence for the 2018-19 fellowship year, with the application portal opening in fall 2017. The Folger will always be an excellent place to study Shakespeare, and we look forward to welcoming our FI-SAA fellows very soon.

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