Using the analogy of a dancer to think about the ways in which poetic and theatrical effects are produced, Michael Witmore will explore the ways in which high-level theatrical effects — what literary critics call “plot” — might be visible in low-level activity at the level of the sentence. We may know a lot about the dancer (Shakespeare’s works) from the waist up, but digital analysis allows us to identify interesting moves taking place below the waist.
Michael Witmore became Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library on July 1, 2011. He was formerly Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he has served as Associate Professor of English and Assistant Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University.
The recipient of numerous fellowships, he has held an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles, a research fellowship and a curatorial residency fellowship at the Folger, and a predoctoral fellowship at the Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte in Berlin. Dr. Witmore earned an A.B. in English at Vassar College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley.
Among his more recent projects, he launched the Working Group for Digital Inquiry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and organized the Pittsburgh Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. His publications include numerous articles, website resources, and book chapters, and he has published five books: Landscapes of the Passing Strange: Reflections from Shakespeare, with Rosamond Purcell (2010), Shakespearean Metaphysics (2009), Pretty Creatures; Children and Fiction in the English Renaissance (2007), Childhood and Children’s Books in Early Modern Europe, 1550-1800 (2006), and Culture of Accidents: Unexpected Knowledges in Early Modern England (2001). In addition, he has given scores of presentations and been invited to serve on numerous academic panels. He currently has several books in progress, including a study of early modern wisdom literature and a book on the nature of digital inquiry in the humanities. He will co-curate an exhibition for the Folger in the fall of 2012 tentatively titled “Very Like a Whale.”