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Bethany Packard - Andrew W Mellon Foundation Research Fellowship 2009

Spaces of the Past: Spaces, Belief and Communities in the Early Modern World

The 2009 Mellon Visiting Fellowship at the University of Warwick’s Centre for the Study of the Renaissance has enabled progress on my dissertation project through multiple means. These include access to research resources and the opportunity to work with scholars in my field, all of which contributed to two productive months of writing. During my time at Warwick I have completed an introductory preface and a chapter and have begun a new chapter, all of which include materials supporting my argument that otherwise would not have been part of my project. I feel that my time here also directly contributed to my recent acceptance into the Folger Institute’s dissertation seminar for the coming academic year.

While at Warwick University I have focused particularly on performance related resources. I did not have much prior experience with performance studies, and took advantage of the resources available at the CAPITAL Centre on campus and at the Shakespeare Centre Library in Stratford-upon-Avon. The CAPITAL Centre has an ongoing relationship with Perry Mills, a teacher at Kind Edward VI School in Stratford. With the assistance of CAPITAL and sometime Globe Education, he has been putting on children’s company plays by John Lyly, John Marston, and Thomas Middleton with his students. Their productions have all been recorded, and I have been able to watch them, along with recorded rehearsals, audience questions, and scholarly response panels. Since my project examines early modern childhood, the chance to see these works performed by actors of the same age as the originals has been extremely fruitful for my writing. I have also made great use of the films and prompt books from Royal Shakespeare Company productions available at the Shakespeare Centre Library. I am writing on a number of plays that are rarely performed, like John Webster’s The White Devil, and the chance to observe the staging of these plays has helpfully confirmed some of my textually based arguments while also presenting new points.

My dissertation project has also benefited greatly from the people I have met while at the Renaissance Centre. In particular, I have worked with Carol Rutter, the director of the CAPITAL Centre who has recently written a book on Shakespeare and childhood. Her perspective has been helpful, and in her I have gained an outside reader for my dissertation defense. Other professors, like Elizabeth Clarke, have also helpfully further familiarized me with their current projects, in her case 17th century women’s manuscripts, and so opened further areas of inquiry. I have been able to attend early modern seminars both at Warwick and at Oxford, and have familiarized myself with those working on early modern history, as well as literature, for example by attending Warwick’s Parish Research Symposium. I also very much appreciate my new graduate student colleagues. In the Renaissance Centre and the English and History Departments I have met people that I can look forward to working with – sharing ideas, collaborating on projects, organizing conference panels – in the future. I also attended the Shakespeare Institute’s BritGrad Conference in Stratford and acquired a lot of specifically Shakespearean colleagues. Through all of these graduate and postgraduate acquaintances I have learned a lot about the similarities and differences in the American and UK graduate education systems and in the job search process, all of which I feel will benefit me as I prepare to go on the job market. All of these opportunities have both directly impacted the writing I have done this term and provided information and insights that will continue to be useful as I develop my academic career. 

A soundbite:

While at the University of Warwick’s Centre for the Study of the Renaissance I have been able to utilize resources that are making a substantial impact on my dissertation project. The performance studies materials available at the CAPITAL Centre and nearby Shakespeare Centre Library continue to be helpful. Even more importantly, I can turn to professors and graduate students at the Renaissance Centre and in the English and History departments for feedback and collaboration.


Bethany at Trinity Church in Stratford

Bethany at Trinity Church in Stratford-Upon-Avon


Bethany in Kenilworth

Bethany at Kenilworth Castle