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Amherst College seniors and juniors are eligible for the Amherst College Undergraduate Folger Fellowships, sponsored in part by the Friends of the Amherst College Library. These fellowships are held for two weeks in January at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The Folger is the premier research library in the country, and possibly the world, for the study of Shakespeare and the English Renaissance. It also possesses collections both broad and deep for research in European arts, culture, and history from the early fifteenth century to the end of the eighteenth century, with sizable resources pertaining also to the New World in the latter half of that period.
The fellowships — all expenses paid — will be awarded to six students whose academic work can most profit from intensive research at the Folger Library. Expenses covered include travel costs (from wherever in the United States you spend Christmas break to Washington, D.C. and then from Washington to Amherst, MA), housing, all meals, and photocopying.
Folger Fellowships now include a strong instructional component, in addition to personal research. The two weeks will include morning workshops on archival research methods and the history of early modern books, manuscripts, and art led by Folger curators and librarians. Using Folger resources, students will learn how to describe rare materials and incorporate them into their research. They will learn how to examine books as historical artifacts and use physical evidence to reconstruct how they were produced, circulated, and read.
Students will learn how manuscripts were created and how to read basic early modern handwriting. Through the Folger’s rich art collection, they will learn about the various processes used for book illustration during the early modern period. Activities will include operating a replica of an early-modern hand press, writing with quills, and a visit to the Folger’s conservation lab, where historical artifacts are repaired on-site. Amherst Fellows will have their afternoons and evenings free to pursue their individual research projects, attend plays and exhibitions, and take full advantage of the resources of Washington, DC. Follow the Folger's blog, The Collation, to learn more about the collections and keep up with current news.
If you are interested in applying for an Amherst College Undergraduate Folger Fellowship, speak to a faculty member who can help you formulate a project that would benefit from your residence at the Folger. Applications should describe your project in no more than two pages and be accompanied by a letter of support from a faculty member. The Committee will review the applications then interview promising applicants in-person. Successful applicants will be notified shortly after the interviews.
The deadline for proposals is always the last Monday in October. Proposals for 2013-14 Interterm are due November 4, 2013.
Henry Clay Folgergraduated from Amherst College in 1879. As a Senior at Amherst, he attended a lecture on Shakespeare by Ralph Waldo Emerson that sparked a life-long interest in the playwright. Throughout a long career in the oil industry, he built up, with his wife’s assistance, the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials. Together, Henry and Emily Folger then planned the library that would house their collection.
More information about the history of Shakespeare at Amherst College is available in this online exhibition: