SQ issue on Shakespeare and performance

I am thrilled to announce that the special issue of Shakespeare Quarterly that I guest edited on Shakespeare and Performance is now finally in print! That issue went through an open peer review at MediaCommons, and I will be writing something more about that process and experience. But for now, I want to share that there’s some really wonderful, smart, and interesting stuff in the issue and I hope you’ll take a look at it; the issue includes pieces by W.B. Worthen, Ramona Wray, Zeno Ackermann, Mark Thornton Burnett, Daniel L. Keegan, and Todd A. Borlik. Abstracts are online at the Folger and the articles and abstracts will soon (tomorrow!) be are now up at Project Muse for those who have access. Even more thrillingly, I want to share with you one section to which I have the author’s rights, “Rethinking Academic Reviewing: A Conversation with Michael Dobson, Peter Holland, Katherine Rowe, Christian…

early modern historian is a genius!

Newly named Macarthur Fellow and early modern historian Jacob Soll talks to Marty Moss-Coane on Radio Times on my old favorite radio station, WHYY in Philadelphia. You should listen to it. Soll talks movingly about struggling as a high school student, what we can learn from studying Renaissance accounting, why the intellectual tradition matters, and what libraries mean to him. Pay attention to the story in the last 15 minutes about his encounter with my friend John Pollack, rare book librarian at Penn! (There’s also a nice video and brief profile of him on the Macarthur site. I’m almost convinced I should retrain as an accountant.)

Guyot’s speciman sheet

If you’re a type designer (or a type caster, to be more appropriate to the early modern period), how do you show people examples of your wares? You use a specimen sheet: On this sheet, we see a matched set of roman and italic typefaces, each in three sizes. The roman (from largest to smallest, and from top to bottom) is in canon, double pica, and pica; the italic (zig-zagging from right to left to middle) is in double pica, great primer, and pica. (I’ll show some details below; you can also zoom in on the image in Luna.) What makes this specimen sheet particularly interesting is that it’s one of the earliest extant printed sheets, we know the type caster who made these typefaces, and it’s the earliest known sheet with English associations.

myriad marginalia

This week in class I showed my students (too briefly) one of my favorite books in the Folger’s collections, a 1483 printing by William Caxton of John Gower’s long poem Confessio amantis, written some hundred years earlier. I do not love this book because of its text—if I confess that I’ve never read the poem, will you hold it against me?—nor because of its author. I think it’s pretty cool that it was printed by Caxton, the man who established printing in England, and of course, there’s always kind of a thrill to any incunabula, but that’s not it either. No, I love this book because of the traces of its later owners, traces that interact with the text, traces that are all about the book but not the text, and traces that seem to have nothing to do with anything. Here’s one set of marks that are fabulous: ((I…

Undergrads in the Library

Forty-five years ago, Folger Director Louis Wright used his annual report to describe the Library as a haven for student-weary faculty: The time has come when someone should give a word of commendation to long-suffering faculties, and provide them with a refuge from the slings and arrows of outrageous students. We are glad that the Folger Library can qualify as a mind-saving station for scholars weary with the task of trying to stir the undergraduate mind to rational understanding.  ((“Mind-Saving Stations,” Report from the Folger Library, February 1966)) If that was true in 1966, it’s certainly not today, when the stirring of undergraduate minds is something that happens inside the Library, in seminars and cheek-by-jowl with their professors in the Reading Rooms.