The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Macbeth and the End of Slavery in the United States

What can Shakespeare say about the original sin of the United States, slavery? As two artists in the Civil War era thought, a lot. Two cartoons in the Folger’s collections, drawn around a decade apart, allude to Shakespeare’s Macbeth to comment on slavery and its place in U.S. society and politics. Through these cartoons we see the sea change that happened within that short span of time.… Continue Reading

The art of dying

a guest post by Eileen Sperry For early modern English Christians, dying was an art form. The bestseller list of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, had there been one, would have been topped by some of the period’s many ars moriendi texts. These treatises, which took hold in England in the late 15th century and remained present through the country’s many doctrinal shifts, were wildly popular.… Continue Reading

Folger manuscripts out and about: a field trip to Penn!

During the Folger’s building renovation, we have been fortunate to be able to send a selection of twenty-nine pre-modern manuscripts up to the University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts in Philadelphia. This exciting partnership allows for these rare items, produced in England and in continental Europe between the 13th and 16th centuries, to remain available to researchers during our extended period of closure.… Continue Reading

Frederick William MacMonnies, Shakespeare, circa 1895

Thanks for the great guesses about the object shown in the September Crocodile Mystery! Dawn Kiilani Hoffmann got it right. The photo shows the bottom of the bronze Shakespeare sculpture at the foot of the stairs from the Reading Room. The bronze base was cast separately from the statue itself, and the photo shows where large screws attach it to Shakespeare’s feet.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: September 2022

What manner o’ thing is this? Useless hint: like Antony’s eponymous crocodile, “It is shaped… like itself, and it is as broad as it hath breadth.” It does not, however, move “with it own organs.” Have a guess? Leave a comment and we’ll be back next week with more info.… Continue Reading

Q & A: David McKenzie, Head of Exhibitions

Please join us in welcoming David McKenzie to the Folger as the Head of Exhibitions. In this role, David will oversee the creation of a new Exhibitions department which will focus on re-envisioning the scope, content, and implementation of a dynamic, community-focused program of materials display and interpretation in 6,000 ft² of brand new exhibition space. He comes to us from Ford’s Theatre Society, where his most recent position was Associate Director for History.… Continue Reading

Innogen and Ghost Characters

In a humorous post from 2017, web comic creator Mya Gosling mused about the absence of mothers in Shakespeare’s plays. Employing her signature stick-figure style, she presented a series of single-panel comics that put these absent maternal figures back in the picture, showing them as calming, sensible, or protective forces whose intervention may have drastically altered the tragic (or near-tragic) events of the plays.… Continue Reading

Postcards in the (home) archive 1942-43

a guest post by Stephen Grant Printed on picture side: FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY, WASHINGTON, D. C. Printed on address side: PUB. BY GARRISON TOY & NOVELTY CO. WASHINGTON, D. C. THIS SPACE FOR WRITING MESSAGES 14436 “COLOURPICTURE” PUBLICATION CAMBRIDGE, MASS. U. S. A. POST CARD Written message: Dear Adah—Now are you surprised to learn I’m away up here? Bernie said for VB to come at once to his job and I hopped on the train and came along on 2 hr.Continue Reading

When the Body is Ill, The Mind Suffers: Shakespeare’s Unravelling of Women’s Hysteria and Madness in the Elizabethan Era

a guest post by Alexandria Zlatar During my research fellowship with the Folger Institute, my investigation has undertaken an exploration into a highly under-represented aspect of mental health and has focused on lived-in experiences of mental illness in Shakespearian England. What did it mean not only to treat mental illness but also create art and write about these experiences? There have been dominant answers to this question throughout literary studies, which have traditionally emphasized the focus of “illness” and reinforced the notion that people were too un-fit to function.… Continue Reading