My name is Emma and I am a brand new SURP-CCEPS researcher. I am a rising junior at Pomona, studying English with a possible double major in French.
My job this summer is multi-pronged. For part of each day, I scan and process letters from the Philbrick letter collection, mostly written (up to this point/as far as I can tell) by Dion Boucicault, an important man in entertainment in the 19th century. The rest of the day is focused on self-driven research about Shakespeare, completely freeform, with the end goal of curating three exhibits using the materials in Special Collections (one in Honnold/Mudd, one in Denison, and one online).
I just started on Wednesday, so the bulk of my time has been getting oriented: learning how to use the different computer systems, choosing books that could potentially be interesting, running back to my room for a sweater (it is SO COLD in the Reading Room). However, on Wednesday, Gale and I found a beautiful book of illustrations of scenes, actors,Shakespeare himself, and other Shakespeareana that brought up some questions for me.
Although I haven’t had the chance to explore all those questions, I have a nice long list of things to research. The subject that I am researching right now was inspired by those faces of Shakespeare; although of course portraits of Shakespeare naturally vary – he did live an awfully long time ago – the collection of pictures got me thinking about the various ways people perceive Shakespeare – a genius, an idol, or even a fraud.
The research I started is related to the fact that people have long disputed whether or not Shakespeare is the real author of all of his works; some people, like William Henry Ireland, wrote plays and pretended they were original works by Shakespeare. In the past, scholars have also suggested that Shakespeare is not the real author of his plays – they dispute how much Latin and Greek he knew, if he was literate, and even how much the plays we have resemble the originals, as they may be facsimiles created by editors, actors, or members of the audience writing in shorthand. I haven’t made a huge amount of headway yet but I’m excited to keep looking into this and other avenues of research.