Tuesday, August 5, 2008

An Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at GW

Below is our successfully funded proposal submitted to GW’s Research Enhancement Fund by faculty in English, History, French and Italian. The Institute has been funded for 2008-11. Its first director will be Jeffrey J. Cohen (Chair and Professor of English). Lowell Duckert is the Assistant to the Director.

1. Mission and Brief History

Given the presence of the Folger Shakespeare Library (the foremost archive of early modern materials) and the Dumbarton Oaks research library (pre-Columbian, Byzantine, and medieval materials), the proximity of numerous postsecondary educational institutions, and the local abundance of cultural resources like the Shakespeare Theatre Company and the city’s many embassies, it seems only natural that District of Columbia should be an internationally significant space in which to study the literature, history, and culture of early Europe, especially within a transnational frame.

Georgetown University, Catholic University, George Mason University, American University, the University of Maryland at College Park and the George Washington University have numerous faculty whose research and publications focus upon medieval and early modern Europe, especially in its enduring connections to Asia, the Middle East, and the New World. With the founding of GW’s University Seminar in Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) last year, an ambitious forum came into being to bring these scholars, graduate students, and interested undergraduates together to share cutting edge research and to collaborate on projects. From its first convocation in September 2007, the seminar has been an unparalleled success. Its meetings have each drawn between twenty and thirty scholars. Its electronic mailing has swelled to seventy names.

The MEMS research seminar created an institutional space for the study of what might be called a globalized early Europe. This focus on the geography’s inherent and ever-changing multiculturalism seems both appropriate and timely, considering not only our Washington location but a burgeoning movement in the humanities to find analytical frames larger than singular nations within which to interpret images, texts and archival materials. The MEMS research seminar has brought together a committed cluster of scholars and students here at GW, but always with an eye towards being a DC-wide (and eventually, an international) community. Thus we have worked from the start with our colleagues from nearby universities. We have included both the Folger Shakespeare Library (especially in collaboration with Gail Kern Paster, Director of the Folger and former faculty in the GW English department) and the Shakespeare Theatre Company (especially through Akiva Fox, the theatre’s literary associate). The four meetings of the seminar held to date have been successful beyond all expectations. Two further meetings are scheduled for this year.

This proposal aims to take the MEMS research seminar to the next level by creating an enduring structure for catalyzing ambitious humanities research at the George Washington University. A joint initiative of ten GW faculty in English, History, French and Italian, and put forward with the support of twenty-two scholars from the DC area, the GW Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies will gather faculty, graduate students, and selected undergraduates. Although specific topics will change, and will connect us to additional programs and departments at GW, the institute will always retain its focus on the global, the polyglot, and the transnational within medieval and early modern Europe. As the success of the research seminar has already made clear, GW possesses a critical mass of scholars working on these interrelated periods. This institute will solidify the community that has been forming and enable it to attain the national recognition it merits.

Though our first goal is the formation of lasting scholarly community, we are not attempting to create a world set apart. Akiva Fox of the Shakespeare Theatre, for example, has worked with several of us in the "Windows" discussion series to bring scholars to the interested general public as part of the staging of various plays. We are collaborating closely with the Folger Shakepeare Library as well: last December many of us participated in an innovative two-day workshop held in tandem with a performance of the “Second Shepherd’s Play,” a substantial widening of the library’s traditional scope. Several of our faculty have also been involved in the GW Undergraduate Research Seminar at the Folger, the only program in the nation that enables undergraduates to obtain reader’s privileges at the library and to access its unparalleled archive of early modern materials. We are considering co-sponsoring our initial colloquium with the Folger, though we also want to ensure that the institute retains a distinct George Washington University identity. By our very theme of locating the study of early Europe within a transnational frame, we are acknowledging the cosmopolitan currents of the city we inhabit, making the institute especially appropriate to both GW and – keeping President’s Knapp’s theme “In and of Washington” in mind -- the District of Columbia.

Ultimately, we wish to create an Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies in order to grow GW’s research visibility in an area of patent but as yet untapped strength. Many GW faculty and graduate students will benefit from the structure which the proposed institute offers, so that even though its reach will be international, we believe that its funding offers a practical and affordable way for GW expeditiously to increase its research reputation.

2. Faculty participation

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Professor and Chair of English [proposal author]
• Publications: ed., Cultural Diversity in the British Middle Ages: Archipelago, Island, England (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008); Hybridity, Identity and Monstrosity in Medieval Britain: Of Difficult Middles (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006); “An Unfinished Conversation about Glowing Green Bunnies,” the afterword to Queering the Non/Human, ed. Noreen Giffney and Myra J. Hird (Ashgate, forthcoming 2008); "Inventing with Animals in the Middle Ages," Engaging with Nature: Essays on the Natural World in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. Barbara A. Hanawalt and Lisa J. Kiser (University of Notre Dame Press, 2008) 39-62; "Afterword: Intertemporality," Cultural Studies of the Modern Middle Ages, ed. Eileen A. Joy, Myra J. Seaman, Kimberly K. Bell, and Mary K. Ramsey (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) 295-300; "The Ruins of Identity," The Postmodern Beowulf: A Critical Casebook, ed. Eileen A. Joy, Mary K. Ramsey and Bruce M. Gilchrist (West Virginia University Press, European Middle Ages series, 2007) 345-81; "Pink Vectors of Deleuze: Queer Theory and Inhumanism," Rhizomes 11/12 [2005]); "Postcolonialism," Chaucer: An Oxford Guide, ed. Steven Ellis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) 448-62; "Kyte oute yugilment: An Introduction to Medieval Noise," Exemplaria 16.2 (2004): 267-76; "The Flow of Blood in Medieval Norwich," Speculum 78 (2004): 26-65.
• Sponsored Research: American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, "The Flow of Blood in Medieval Norwich," 2003-04 ($45,000)

Leah Chang, Assistant Professor of Romance, German and Slavic Languages and Literatures
• Publications: Into Print: The Production of Female Authorship in Early Modern France. University of Delaware Press (forthcoming); “The Gender of the Book: Jeanne de Marnef edits Pernette Du Guillet,” forthcoming in Crossing Borders: Communities of Women and Letters, ed. Anne R. Larsen; “Spectacle, Sublimation, and Civic Pride in Maurice Scève’s ‘L’Entrée de la Royne,’ (1548)”; Romance Quarterly 54:2 (Spring 2007) 124-135; “Catherine Des Roches’s Two Proserpines: Textual Production and the ‘Ravissement de Proserpine’ in the Missives de Mes-Dames des Roches (1586)” Symposium (Winter 2005) 203-222.

Holly Dugan, Assistant Professor of English
• Publications: “Scent of a Woman: Performing the Politics of Smell in Early Modern England,” The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (38.2, spring 2008); review of Will Fisher, Materializing Gender in Early Modern English Literature and Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2006) Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 60, issue 2 (Summer 2007), 671-72; review of Natasha Korda, Shakespeare’s Domestic Economies: Gender and Property in Early Modern England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002) Criticism, vol. 45, issue 4 (Fall 2003), 539-542.
• Sponsored Research: Frank Hideo Kono Fellow of the Huntington Library, “The Ephemeral History of Perfume” Spring 2007 ($2500)

Gil Harris, Professor of English
• Publications: Shakespeare and Literary Theory (Oxford: Oxford University press, contracted); Untimely Matter in the Time of Shakespeare (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, forthcoming 2008); Thomas Dekker, The Shoemaker’s Holiday (New York: Norton/New Mermaids, forthcoming 2008); Foreign Bodies and the Body Politic: Discourses of Social Pathology in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, paperback edition, 2006); Staged Properties in Early Modern English Drama, co-edited with Natasha Korda (Cambridge: Cambridge University paperback edition, 2006); “Shakespeare and Race,” in Stanley Wells and Margreta de Grazia (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming); “Mercantilism,” in Patricia Parker (ed.), The Shakespeare Encyclopedia (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, forthcoming); “Disease,” in Patricia Parker (ed.), The Shakespeare Encyclopedia (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, forthcoming); “Shakespeare after 5/11,” Shakespeare Yearbook (forthcoming 2008); “Ludgate Time: Simon Eyre’s Oath and the Temporal Economies of The Shoemaker’s Holiday,” Huntington Library Quarterly (forthcoming 2008); “Usurers of Colour: The Taint of Jewish Transnationality in Mercantilist Literature and The Merchant of Venice,” in Helen Ostovich and Mary Silcox (eds.), The Mysterious and the Foreign in Early Modern Europe (Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press, 2008), 155-79; “The Smell of Macbeth,” Shakespeare Quarterly 58:4 (2007): 465-86; “Troilus and Cressida: A Modern Perspective,” in Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine (eds.), Troilus and Cressida (Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 2007), 303-14; “The Time of Shakespeare’s Jewry,” Shakespeare Studies 35 (2007): 39-45; “Untimely Mediations,” Early Modern Culture 6 (2007); “Cleopatran Affinities: Hélène Cixous, Margaret Cavendish, and the Writing of Dialogic Matter,” in Dympna Callaghan (ed.), The Impact of Feminism in English Renaissance Studies (New York and London: Palgrave, 2006), 33-52; “All Swell That End Swell: Dropsy, Phantom Pregnancy, and the Sound of Deconception in All’s Well That Ends Well,” Renaissance Drama 35 (2006): 169-89; “Rematerializing Shakespeare’s Intertheatricality: The Occidental-Oriental Halimpsest,” in Bryan Reynolds and William L. West (eds.), Rematerializing Shakespeare: Authority and Representation in Early Modern England (New York and London: Palgrave, 2005), pp. 75-94; “(Po)X Marks the Spot: How to ‘Read’ ‘Early Modern’ ‘Syphilis’ in The Three Ladies of London,” in Kevin Siena (ed.), Sins of the Flesh: Responses to Sexually Transmitted Disease in Renaissance Europe (Toronto: Center for Renaissance and Reformation Studies, 2005), pp. 111-34; “Shakespeare’s Hair: Staging the Object of Material Culture,” in Ewan Fernie, Ramona Wray, Mark Thornton Burnett, and Clare McManus (eds.), Reconceiving the Renaissance: A Critical Reader (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 329-37 [reprint of 2001 Shakespeare Quarterly essay]
• Sponsored Research: NEH Fellowship, Folger Shakespeare Library: Shakespeare and Literary Theory 2008-9 ($45,000)

Jonathan Hsy, Assistant Professor of English
• Publications: “Translation, Suspended: Medieval Code-Switching and the Poetics of Sea Travel," Medieval Translator 13, ed. Denis Renevey and Christiania Whitehead (Brepols, 2009); "'Oure Occian': Littoral Language and the Constance Narratives of Chaucer and Boccaccio," Europe and Its Others: Mediterranean Interperceptions, ed. Paul Gifford and Tessa Hauswedell (Peter Lang, 2009); "Bordeaux," "Nicholas Brembre," "Calais," "Company of the Staple," "Just Price," "Macaronic," "John of Northampton," "Signet," "Merchants of the Steelyard," "William Walworth." Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages (Oxford UP, 2008); review of Diane Watt, Amoral Gower: Language, Sex, and Politics (U Minnesota P, 2003) in Medium Aevum 73 (2004): 343-4.
• Sponsored Research: Travel Scholarship and Achievement Award, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, 650 Swiss Francs (2007); Benjamin Franklin Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania $35,000 (2005-07)

Jehangir Y. Malegam, Assistant Professor of History
• Publications: "No Peace for the Wicked: Conflicting Visions of Peacemaking in an Eleventh-Century Monastic Narrative," Viator 39.1 (Spring, 2008).
• Sponsored Research: Stanford Graduate Research Opportunity funds 2004-2005 ($6000); Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellowship for scholarship in residence at the Stanford Humanities Center 2005-2006 ($23,000)

Marcy Norton, Associate Professor of History
• Publications: Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate, 1492-1700 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, forthcoming 2008); “Tasting Empire: Chocolate and the European Internalization of Mesoamerican Aesthetics,” The American Historical Review 11 (June 2006): 660 – 691; Co-authored with Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert, “Imperial Rivalries and Commercial Collaboration: Portuguese and English Merchants and the Formation of an Atlantic Tobacco Trade, 1560 – 1640,” in The Atlantic World and Virginia, 1550-1624, ed. Fredrika Teute (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute, 2007), 251 – 273.
• Sponsored Research: "Dogs and People in the Spanish World, 1500 -1800" (University Facilitating Fellowship, 2005-2006, $9100)

Linda Levy Peck, Columbian Professor of History
• Publications: Consuming Splendor: Society and Culture in Seventeenth Century England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) [awarded Honorable Mention, Roland H. Bainton Prize in History and Theology, 2006, by the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference]; “The Built Environment and Luxury Consumption,” Journal of Architectural History, vol. 65 (Mar. 2006), pp. 9-10
• Sponsored Research: “The Grocer’s Apprentice” Mellon Senior Fellowship, Folger Shakespeare Library, 2007-2008 ($50,000)

Lynn Westwater, Associate Professor of Romance, German and Slavic Languages and Literatures; director of the Italian program
• Publications: Critical edition of Arcangela Tarabotti’s Lettere familiari e di complimento [Venice: Guerigli, 1650] (Turin: Rosenberg & Sellier, 2005); “Petrarch’s Lettere disperse,” The Complete Petrarch: A Life's Work (1304-1374), ed. Victoria Kirkham and Armando Maggi (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, forthcoming); “Sara Copio Sullam” and “Lucrezia Marinella” Encyclopedia of Women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, England (Santa Barbara, Denver, Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 2007); " 'Le false obiezioni de' nostri calunniatori': Lucrezia Marinella Responds to the Misogynist Tradition," Bruniana & Campanelliana 12, no. 1 (2006); “The Trenchant Pen: Humor in Arcangela Tarabotti’s Lettere.” Arcangela Tarabotti: A Literary Nun in Baroque Venice, ed. Elissa Weaver (Ravenna: Longo, 2006).

Andrew Zimmerman, Associate Professor of History
• Publications: From New South to Global South: Tuskegee, Germany, and West Africa (Princeton University Press, forthcoming); “‘What do you really want in German East Africa, Herr Professor?’ Counterinsurgency and the Science Effect in Colonial Tanzania,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 48 (2006): 419-461; “Decolonizing Weber,” Postcolonial Studies 9 (2006): 53-79; “A German Alabama in Africa: The Tuskegee Expedition to German Togo and the Transnational Origins of West African Cotton Growers,” American Historical Review 110 (2005): 1362-1398; Translated in Sebastian Conrad, ed., Globalgeschichte. Theorien, Ansätze, Themen (Campus Verlag, forthcoming, 2007); “Bismarck Bell and Booker T. Washington in the Black Atlantic's Germany,” in Tobias Nagl and Sara Lennox, Remapping Black Germany (University of Massachusetts Press, forthcoming); “‘Diese unendlichen, sogenannten ethnologischen Bandwürmer Don Bombastians’: An Appreciation of Bastian’s Writing in Light of the History of Science in Imperial Germany,” in Manuela Fischer, et al. eds., Adolf Bastian and his Universal Archive of Humanity (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 2007), pp. 45-49; “From Natural Science to Primitive Art: German New Guinea in Emil Nolde,” in Cordula Grewe, ed., Die Schau des Fremden: Ausstellungskonzepte zwischen Kunst, Kommerz und Wissenschaft (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2006), pp. 279-300.
• Sponsored research: American Council of Learned Societies Junior Faculty Fellowship, 2004-2005 ($30,000).

This proposal is supported by the following non-GW faculty:
1. Gail Kern Paster, Director, Folger Shakespeare Library
2. Akiva Fox, Literary Associate, Shakespeare Theatre Company
3. Denise Albanese, Associate Professor of English and Cultural Studies, Director of Graduate Studies, George Mason University
4. Katherine Aron-Beller, Visiting Assistant Professor, Judaic Studies and History Department, George Washington University
5. Kim Coles, Assistant Professor of English, University of Maryland
6. Theresa Coletti, Professor of English, University of Maryland
7. Andrea Frisch, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of French and Italian, University of Maryland
8. Marshall Grossman, Professor of English, University of Maryland
9. Tamara Harvey, Assistant Professor of English, George Mason University
10. Lindsay Kaplan, Associate Professor of English, Georgetown University
11. Marcia Kupfer, Independent Scholar
12. Theodore Leinwand, Professor of English, University of Maryland, College Park
13. Amy Leonard, Associate Professor of History, Georgetown University
14. Erika T. Lin, Assistant Professor of English, George Mason University
15. Robert Matz, Associate Professor, George Mason University
16. Madhavi Menon, Assistant Professor of Literature, American University
17. Nick Moschovakis, Independent Scholar
18. April G. Shelford, Associate Professor of History, American University
19. Anita Sherman, Literature Department, American University
20. Michael Wenthe, Assistant Professor of Literature, American University
21. Sarah Werner, Undergraduate Program Director, Folger Shakespeare Library
22. Mimi Yiu, Assistant Professor of English, Georgetown

Affiliated Graduate students (GW)
1. Natalie Deibel (History)
2. Ashley Denham Busse (English)
3. Lowell Duckert (English)
4. John Figura (English)
5. Mary McPartland (History)
6. Nedda Mehdizadeh (English)
7. Lindsay Moore (History)
8. Tawnya C Ravy (English)
9. Mike Smith (English)
10. Rebecca de Wolf (History)
11. Gabriella Wyatt (English)

3. Notable accomplishments to date

The University Seminar in Medieval and Early Modern Studies is currently completing its inaugural year. We have held four meetings, each with between eighteen and twenty-nine people in attendance: Gil Harris on London’s Old Jewry; Holly Dugan on early modern sexual violence; Jehangir Malegam on conflicting visions of medieval peacemaking; and M. Lindsay Kaplan on Jews and the history of race. Two more research discussions are scheduled for this spring: Jonathan Hsy on travel narratives, and a panel of graduate students offering research in progress on India and Indians. The sense of community which this group has developed has been extremely gratifying, allowing faculty from beginning assistant professors to full professors and students from advanced undergraduates to graduate students working on their dissertations to create a space in which new knowledge is being created, fresh ideas are circulated, and avant-garde research is fostered. Interest in the research seminar has grown rapidly. We currently maintain an electronic mailing list with seventy names.

We know that we are rather young in our history to attempt to make the jump from successful seminar to institute. Yet we also realize that (1) the popularity of the seminar has exceeded all expectations; (2) the group has rapidly become well known across the DC area and continues to attract new members; (3) our annual seminar budget of $2500 is wholly inadequate to our ambitions, prohibiting us from inviting the visiting scholars who are the lifeblood and backbone of any serious humanities research collaboration; (4) the work we conduct is at once wide-ranging and thematically unified, giving us a coherence that more loosely assembled groups lack; (5) with proper funding, we have confidence that the GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies institute will be an entity of international importance. Our focus upon globalized Europe ensures that the work we do will travel quickly outside of North America, and is a topic that is just now gaining traction in the humanities. We have the chance to grow something both important and innovative at GW, and we would like to seize the moment.

4. Proposed activities, 2008-11

2008-09: COMMUNITY
The first year will be devoted to allowing the institute to realize its full potential as catalyst to enduring community. We aim to create at GW a collaborative structure that fosters the development of ambitious scholarly research devoted to the medieval and early modern periods. We will hold four interdisciplinary research meetings, two each semester. These meetings will be traditional research paper presentations mixed with planning and community building. We will also sponsor visits by four scholars of international renown who work on topics related to the institute’s focus upon globalized early Europe. These high-profile visits have two objectives: to deepen the collective knowledge of the institute and refine its research aims; and to advertise the existence of the institute to scholars well placed to grow and disseminate our reputation. Each visit will revolve around a subtheme, such as “Travel, Race and Violence” and “Europe and the Black Atlantic” (conducted in tandem with American Studies and Africana Studies). A small group of us will visit established Medieval and Early Modern Studies institutes at other universities (possibly Ohio State University, Harvard University, UCLA, and SUNY Binghamton) in order to articulate a set of “best practices” for such centers. We would also like to learn about the challenges these successful institutes have faced, and what strategies they have employed to secure external funding.

Regular research meetings and the program of visiting scholars will continue and – we hope -- grow. The faculty affiliated with the program will form a subgroup dedicated to seeking and applying for external funding, with the aim of completing two funding applications by the spring. We will culminate the year with an interdisciplinary colloquium on "Europe in a Transnational Frame." We imagine that this fairly modest event (approx. 50 people), drawing mostly mid-Atlantic and northeast academic participants, will take place during two days in early April. We will promote the colloquium heavily, however, especially with a web presence: the publicity we will gain is part of the “full launch” of the institute, and will build anticipation for the conference in the next cycle. Panels will showcase superlative research being done in the field, but much of the colloquium will be structured around “vertical” group conversations in which the best future possibilities for such work are explored. From the colloquium will emerge the agenda of the conference to be sponsored by the institute in the following year’s cycle.

This year we will hold a more ambitious version of our colloquium. Our conference “Towards a Globalized Early Europe” will feature a series of keynote addresses, some panel presentations, and a culminating roundtable devoted to charting the future of the field. This international conference will be heavily advertised as the space in which the most exciting, most innovative research in the field will emerge. Though its theme is rather large, “Towards a Globalized Early Europe” will have sessions devoted to such well delineated topics as the slave trade and the circum-Atlantic; violence and cultural differentiation; travel literature and Crusade; commodities and identities; consumption and trade; the West and the East; Christians, Jews, and Turks; Europe’s aborigines; and the encounter with the New World. We will use this event to ensure that GW's reputation as a leading institution at which to do work on the medieval and early modern periods is secured.

The conference will provide the foundation for a published book – not mere conference proceedings, but a collection of essays on the conference's topic of globalized Europe, to be issued by a respected university press. We are fortunate in that one of our organizers has a great deal of experience in this area, having published four such edited collections already. We feel that producing this book will be the best way to ensure that the GW Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies achieves scholarly recognition and repays the university's investment. We envision that this could be the first monograph of several to be published under the institute’s auspices.

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