The Folger Institute is pleased to announce the 2021-2022 cohort of Folger Institute Research Fellows! With the Folger Shakespeare Library building renovation project well and truly underway, the Folger collections remain unavailable for in-person consultation. However, the Folger Institute is committed to continuing its support of collections-based research, and to providing scholars with the resources they need to pursue and advance their work. This year, we have awarded 38(!) four-week fellowships.
The Folger Institute recognizes that research needs are different for every scholar, and we have responded from the outset of our plans for the duration of the closure by drastically expanding our idea of what a fellowship “residency” might look like. For starters, travel to work in archives, libraries, or museums is not a requirement of fellowship support or the basis of an award this year. Instead, we invited applicants to make their own best cases for how they would pursue their research, including but not limited to support for buyout from summer teaching, caregiving costs, and payment of digital reproduction fees. These scenarios seem to resonate deeply, with 25% of applicants requesting financial support for relief from summer teaching, 14% noting a need for assistance with caregiving costs, and 21% proposing to cover digitization and reproduction fees.
The nearly forty fellows selected this year have astounded us with their unique and creative approaches. To give just a few examples, two fellows, Jennie Youssef and Dexnell Peters, proposed using their funds to hire research assistants on-site at archives that remain inaccessible due to pandemic travel restrictions. This local assistance will support their projects “Much Depends on Dinner: Transculturation in Early Modern Foodways‚ Performance‚ and Dramatic Representations (1492-1660)” and “Trinidad and Demerara: The Southern Caribbean in the Revolutionary Era,” respectively.
Jamie Gianoutsos will be embarking on a research retreat to read, transcribe, and organize primary source material for “The ‘Propagation of Liberty’: Marchamont Nedham and the Classical Republican Tradition.” John Stone will be taking an online approach, ordering digital copies of primary works to support his project “Mapping English-Language Shakespeare in Print in Spain before 1810,” which will include a digital humanities output.
This cohort also includes the final fellows sponsored by Before ‘Farm to Table’: Early Modern Foodways and Cultures, the inaugural project of the Mellon initiative in collaborative research. Along with Youssef, four other fellows will be exploring food-related projects this year as part of the Before ‘Farm to Table’ community. Eleanor Barnett will address “The Reformation of Food: Eating in the English and Italian Reformations‚ c. 1560 – c. 1640,” and Lila Chambers will continue work on “Liquid Capital: Alcohol and the Rise of Slavery in the British Atlantic‚ 1623-1736.” Carla Cevasco and Kate Mulry will conduct research related to early modern childhood in their projects “Feeding Children in Early America” and “‘It nourisheth the Child in the Womb’: Chocolate‚ Reproduction‚ and Colonization in Seventeenth-Century Jamaica.”
The Folger Institute has sustained partnerships with five scholarly organizations to award joint fellowships in 2021-22. We are very proud that three of these sponsored projects address topics on critical race studies, a field with which the Folger Institute most recently engaged through a series of online Critical Race Conversations. Indeed, 24% of fellowship applicants this year proposed topics directly relating to critical race studies.
Our colleagues at ASECS have given their award to Nathaniel Cutter for “Moorish Habits and Civil Entertainments: Performance‚ Advertising‚ and Anglo-Maghrebi Diplomacy‚ 1681-1734.” Our partners at NACBS selected Nedda Mehdizadeh’s project “Translating Persia in Early Modern English Writing,” and those at SSEMWG have recognized Mira Kafantaris’ work on “Royal Marriage‚ Foreign Queens‚ and Constructions of Race in the Early Modern Period” in choosing her as their 2021 fellow. The Omohundro Institute will be offering support to Dyani Taff for her project “Gendered Seascapes and Monarchy in Early Modern English Culture.” A Shakespeare Association of America fellow will also be selected this fall.
Finally, we are very excited to continue our Artist-in-residence program with two creative projects this year. Desi Shelton, of the Camden Repertory Theater, will be doing research toward a new program called “Shakes for Small Fries,” designed to introduce Shakespeare to under-served Black and Latinx children and their communities across the United States. Missy Dunaway rounds out the group with a visual project, “Birds of The Bard: Shakespeare’s Avian References in 64 Paintings.”
The full list of 2021-22 fellows and their projects is available on the Folger website. With such a wide-ranging group of research topics, project stages, and ways of conducting scholarship, the 2021-22 fellowship year promises to be illuminating, thought-provoking, and energizing. We are excited to see this new community of fellows already sharing resources on Slack, engaging with Folger Researcher Services through our Collections Colleague program, and doing important work in the ways they deem best suited to providing a balanced work life. Here’s to a new Folger Fellowships year!