The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Guest Author

The itemized life: John Kay’s notebook

Folger X.d.446, the notebook of John Kay, combines accounts and verses. Short-term fellow Laura Kolb argues that Kay’s book is noteworthy not because it combines these things, but because it does so with both care and a kind of inventiveness, even playfulness. Learn more in this post.

The Strange and Practical Beauty of Small-Format Herbals

A guest post by Katarzyna Lecky The Folger Shakespeare Library has a wealth of pre-Linnaean English herbals (printed guides to the medicinal qualities of plants) ranging from gorgeous folios to pocket-sized reference manuals. Although the large-format botanical works boast an undeniable aesthetic appeal with their elaborate frontispieces and pages filled with engraved plates of flora, little herbals are often more compelling for those of us interested in who used them, how, and why.… Continue Reading

Of Counts and Causes: The Emergence of the London Bills of Mortality

A guest post by Dr. Kristin Heitman The Folger’s rare holdings let us glimpse aspects of Renaissance and early modern practices otherwise lost to us. For example, while many European cities and towns had well-documented methods for monitoring the health of their residents, particularly during plague epidemics, significant details of the programs’ inner workings are disclosed only in a series of Folger documents—particularly for the City of London.… Continue Reading

Polyglot Poetics: Transnational Early Modern Literature

A guest post by Dr. Nigel Smith I am writing a transnational history of early modern European literature. Our inherited history of the different early modern vernacular languages and their literatures was fashioned through the lens of the 19th-century and earlier 20th-century nationalism, and this story is one of how each literature descended from the Greek and Roman classics via the Italian Renaissance.… Continue Reading

Books of Offices

A guest post by Nicholas Popper The Folger has fourteen of an odd, unloved sort of manuscript that I’ve taken to calling “Books of Offices,” which exist in over a hundred versions throughout archives in the US and UK. Typically entitled with variations of “A survaye or Booke of Offices aswell of his Majesty’s Courts of Recorde as of his Majesty’s most noble household,” or “A collection of all the offices of England with their fees and allowance in the King’s Gift,” they differ markedly from the well-known humanist descriptions of English governance written by Thomas Smith and William Harrison.… Continue Reading

Bound to Serve: Apprenticeship Indentures at the Folger

A guest post by Dr. Urvashi Chakravarty In 1616, the apprentice Robert Dering received the following letter from his master Thomas Style. Letter from Thomas Style to Robert Dering Dering was bound overseas with one Mr. Culpepper, and in his letter, Style offers his apprentice several pieces of salient advice and stern admonition.1 Dering must be “delygent” to “learne the lanngwedge” (of his post abroad), to “spend not [his] time eydlye,” and to “mend and better [his] wryttinge” so that he “maye com to be Iimployed in [Style’s] affarres.”… Continue Reading

Collecting the world in seventeenth-century London

Guest post by Surekha Davies  From at least the sixteenth century, overseas artifacts found their way into European princely and scholarly collections. There they were catalogued, analyzed, and displayed alongside natural and artificial curiosities from classical cameos to blowfish. I am currently at the Folger Shakespeare Library working on a new book project, Collecting Artifacts in the Age of Empire, and thinking through the ways in which collections and collecting practices shaped early modern European attempts to understand human variety around the world.… Continue Reading

Theatrical disturbances and actors behaving badly: what the Drury Lane Prompter’s Journal tells us about nineteenth-century theatrical life

Guest post by Dr. Sarah Burdett What was life like inside the nineteenth-century London theatre? How smoothly did performances run? And how professionally did actors behave? The Drury Lane Prompter’s Journal, 1812-1818, held at the Folger, provides an excellent resource for answering each of these questions. From performances being pulled last minute, to drunkenness during rehearsals, and actresses being shot at on stage, the document is full of juicy and shocking anecdotes which provide fascinating insight into the day-to-day caprices of Georgian theatrical life.… Continue Reading

Early modern legal violence: for the common good?

A guest post by Dr. Sarah Higinbotham In a 1628 sermon preached before the Assize court at Oxford, Robert Harris reminds the “Sheriffes, Iustices, [and] Iudges” that they have taken “an oath for the common good.” He reminds them that they work for the people, not for power: they are to “plucke the spoile out of the teeth of the mighty” “and to bestride [their] poore brother, when hee is stricken downe.” But even the most cursory Hamnet searches of “justice” reveal the law’s violence against the poor, in particular.… Continue Reading

Report from the field: network analysis

A guest post by Dr. Ruth Ahnert In July 2017 the Folger Institute welcomed participants and faculty to the third of its Early Modern Digital Agendas (EMDA) gatherings—an NEH-funded Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities. The EMDA institutes train early modern scholars in digital methods, digital tools, and theoretical frameworks, exposing them to the latest methods and thinking in the field, with faculty drawn from academia and beyond.… Continue Reading

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