Tuesday, November 27, 2012

MEMSI and the Past's Future

The George Washington University Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute was founded in 2008. During its four and a half years of existence (so far!) we have become the most successful humanities initiative launched at the university. We are now doing what we can to ensure that MEMSI not only continues to flourish but has the chance to burgeon. Our ambitions are high.

GW MEMSI has invigorated the study of medieval and Renaissance literature and culture in DC. Among our achievements: enabling our faculty to secure prestigious fellowships like the ACLS, Huntington, Folger and Guggenheim; founding Oliphaunt, a promising open access book publishing initiative, the first title of which has been downloaded almost two thousand times; facilitating undergraduate access to the primary source materials housed at the Folger Shakespeare Library through a "History of the Book" seminar; through a partnership with the School Without Walls, making it possible for DC high school students to take courses in early literature at GW and to attend performances at the Shakespeare Theatre and meet scholars publishing in the field; creating popular colloquia that welcome all who wish to attend on topics as varied as the digital humanities and early ecology; and founding a Deans Scholars in Shakespeare Lecture, launching each year with a big event (it was standing room only at the inaugural lecture, when Gail Paster spoke at Post Hall about the history of costuming Shylock and Othello).

GW MEMSI has in its first years of life created programs and projects that reach every level of the institution, from undergraduates to graduate students to junior and senior faculty. Our goal right now is to raise the funding necessary to allow MEMSI to thrive for the next ten years (a total of $200K: we accomplish a vast amount with very little) -- and, ideally, an endowment that would enable the Institute to carry on its work indefinitely ($500K). If you would consider assisting, more information on making a contribution may be accessed here:

I am always willing to speak with you as well.

With best wishes,

Jeffrey J. Cohen

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