Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Francis Bacon

The Advancement of Francis Bacon: A Fall Semester Seminar directed by Alan Stewart

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was one of early modern England’s leading thinkers. Bacon’s range was immense: in his own life he was at the very least a lawyer, a judge, a diplomat, a parliamentarian, a politician, a courtier, a natural philosopher, an historian, a biographer, an essayist, a writer of myth, and an experimental scientist. Indeed, one of the few things he was not was a commercial playwright, although, notoriously, many have tried to pin Shakespeare’s plays on him, too. His work, which is only now being published in its entirety (by the Oxford Francis Bacon edition), covers a bewilderingly wide terrain, and study of it traditionally has been divided into discrete disciplines that Bacon would not have recognized: law, history of science, literature, history, natural philosophy, rhetoric, dialectic. This seminar aims to bridge some of these disciplinary boundaries to attempt a more rounded, in-depth vision of Bacon’s life and works. Participants will study (in English) many of
Bacon’s major works, including the various editions of Essays, The Advancement of Learning, The Wisdom of the Ancients, Novum Organum, History of Henry VII, and The New Atlantis, alongside less familiar but important texts and letters, and, where appropriate, writings by other contemporary authors. Materials generated by new research on the Oxford Francis Bacon edition will be available to participants, and participants will be encouraged to draw upon their own projects for materials and interpretive contexts, as well.

Director: Alan Stewart is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His publications include Hostage to Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon, co-authored with Lisa Jardine (1998), Philip Sidney: A Double Life (2000), and The Cradle King: A Life of James VI and I (2003). He is currently editing two volumes of the new Oxford
Francis Bacon edition.

Schedule: Thursdays, 1 – 4:30 p.m., 28 September through 14 December, except 26 October and 23 November 2006.

Application Deadlines: 1 June 2006 for admission (and grants-in-aid for Folger consortium affiliates); 5 September 2006 for admission only. Visit for application forms and guidelines, as well as a link to our online application form.

Please contact the Folger Institute ( with any questions.


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