The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0976  Thursday, 29 April 2004

From:           Folger Institute <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 28 Apr 2004 13:08:47 -0400
Subject:        ANNC: Folger Seminar on Ethnographies in Shakespeare's England

Emerging Ethnographies in Shakespeare's England

A Fall Semester Folger Institute Seminar directed by Virginia Mason
Vaughan, Clark University

Although the cultural descriptions offered by early modern English
writers were never systematic or scientific in the modern sense of
ethnography, they nevertheless demonstrate English interest in the
appearance, customs, politics and religion of peoples other than
themselves. A broad range of texts including travelers' accounts,
promotional tracts, poems, and plays reflect English writers'
perceptions of non-English peoples. Recent studies have generally
focused on one ethnic category--Jews, for instance, or Turks--or one
area of the globe, such as the new world or Africa. Others have
attempted to provide a theoretical framework for understanding early
modern cultural description. By reassessing such works, and by examining
a wide array of primary sources, this seminar, sponsored by the Center
for Shakespeare Studies, will try to see the world as Shakespeare's
contemporaries saw it. Using Andrew Borde's The Fyrst Boke of the
Introduction of Knowledge, George Abbot's A Briefe Description of the
World, and John Speed's The Theatre of Great Britain as touchstones, we
will examine how cultural description changed during Shakespeare's
lifetime as England became more involved with overseas trade and travel.
Additional readings will address a broad range of peoples--from America
to Africa to India to the Ottoman Empire to Europe--in an attempt to
tease out contradictions, conflations, and cross-fertilizations in
England's engagements with other cultures, elements that not only
generated a discourse of ethnography but also contributed to the
construction of an emerging English nationalism.

Director: Virginia Mason Vaughan is the Andrea B. and Peter D. Klein '64
Distinguished Professor of English at Clark University and Director of
the Higgins School of Humanities there. Her many publications on
Shakespeare include Othello: A Contextual History (1994). Her most
recent book, Performing Blackness on English Stages, 1500-1800, is

Schedule: Fridays, 1 - 4:30 p.m., 1 October through 17 December, except
29 October and 26 November.

Application Deadline: 1 June for admission (and grants-in-aid for Folger
consortium affiliates); 1 September for admission only.

Further Information: Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any
questions. Visit www.folger.edu/institute for application forms and

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