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Shakespeare symposium welcomes returning scholars to UB

The title of the Folger Institute seminar, “As from a voyage rich with merchandise,” derives from a line from â€œA Midsummer Night's Dream.”

By BERT GAMBINI

Published April 14, 2017

“Our membership in the Folger helps us develop our graduate students; it helps develop, recruit and retain our faculty.”
Barbara Bono, associate professor of English and UB representative
Folger Institute

Dympna Callaghan, William Safire Professor of Modern Letters at Syracuse University and past president of the Shakespeare Association of America, will deliver the keynote lecture as part of the UB Humanities Institute’s “Returns from the Folger: A Celebration of its 25th Anniversary of Membership in the Folger Institute” to be held April 20.

The symposium will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the UB Poetry Collection, 420 Capen Hall, North Campus.

Callaghan, who recently finished editing a new edition of “A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare,” is an expert on the playwrights and poets of the English Renaissance. She brings both a tightly focused and sweeping vision to Shakespeare studies, according to Barbara Bono, associate professor in the Department of English and UB’s Folger Institute representative.

“Callaghan is a scholar of early modern poetry who can be fine-grained in the sense that she gets into matters such as form. But Shakespeare studies is also capacious. It includes feminist theory, psychoanalytic theory, history and performance studies,” says Bono. “She provides insight into the field as a whole and shows that it is not a singular subject, but something that is wide, enduring and lifelong.”

The symposium’s other speakers — Olga Valbuena, associate professor of English at Wake Forest University; Kevin J. Costa, director of innovation and learning at McDonogh School; and Howard Marchitello, professor of English at Rutgers University — are all Bono’s former students.

A complete list of their topics and a “Returns from the Folger” program is available online.

The speakers’ past relationship with UB and their current roles at other universities speak to the very nature of the anniversary celebration and UB’s membership in the Folger Institute, a major scholarly consortium that supports multidisciplinary research and education in the early modern period.

“The seminar’s title is derived from a line in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ ‘As from a voyage, rich with merchandise,’” says Bono. “England was aspiring to become Great Britain at the beginning stages of its imperial dream and the play contains this oblique reflection on the ‘returns’ from its circulations of exploration and economics. I wanted to hint at that circularity.”

“I am in awe, and this strategic symposium … is my new best example of how dedicated faculty like Professor Barbara Bono and her colleagues work to instill in succeeding generations of students the excitement of the opportunities the Folger affords and to use institutional memory as a way of paying those benefits forward,” says Kathleen Lynch, executive director of the Folger Institute.

UB became a Folger Institute member in 1992 under the leadership of the late College of Arts and Sciences Dean Kerry Grant, with Bono serving as the university’s institutional representative since 1999. Over the course of 25 years, UB’s relationship with the Folger — now a consortium of 46 top universities — and that accompanying circular tide of influence has benefited the university, its students and faculty.

“Our membership in the Folger helps us develop our graduate students; it helps develop, recruit and retain our faculty, but we’re now a sufficient distance out that we can see certain patterns,” Bono says. “The students who came to us for their master’s and doctoral programs are now in the high-middle of their careers at other institutions — and they now send students back to us.”

It’s a cyclical nature that Bono says touches many parts of the university.

“Andrew Stott, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, and Graham Hamill, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School, were recruited in part on the basis of the fact that UB offers significant support to humanities scholars and that they would have the benefits of the Folger for themselves and their students,” she says.

Bono has been a UB faculty member for 33 years. She’s educated more than 8,000 undergraduates and supervised more than 30 PhD dissertations. Heavily invested in the classroom and her students, she has not only contributed to their career beginnings, but has followed many of her students and continues to interact with them in professional organizations and conferences.

“The Folger is an important pulse point for this,” she says. “It’s an alternate curriculum with a major scholarly training mission that offers 12 programs every academic year, that puts graduate students on-site to learn how to conduct primary research in a world-class library with an extended range of colleagues. That’s how humanities scholarship gets done, individual to individual.”

The Folger Institute in fact is built on resource-sharing across institutions, according to Lynch.

“The marvelous dynamic that we celebrate here is that membership in the consortium also forges strong commitments across multiple communities. Few universities demonstrate this as well as [UB]. At the University at Buffalo, affiliates of English, history, romance languages, and theater and dance — the core disciplines to which our collection speaks — are well represented in the institute’s scholarly programs.”

The symposium is supported by contributions from 11 UB College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) departments, and is echoed in an exhibit on the third floor of the Silverman Library. CAS Dean Robin Schulze and Owen Williams, Folger Institute assistant director for scholarly programs, will be on hand to help celebrate the day.