The Newberry periodically offers programs for teachers that are co-sponsored by another educational or cultural organization. These programs bring teachers to the Newberry to delve into a topic in a small group setting. As with other Newberry programs for teachers, scholars with active teaching and research interests in a particular field lead the seminar. Teachers have the opportunity to explore and discuss the latest scholarly research and explore ways to adapt this research for the classroom. Many of these programs also feature close interaction with the Newberry’s collection and provide participants with teaching resources to use and share with colleagues.
Teacher Programs staff will also work with individual schools or departments to develop seminars based on a topic or theme relevant to their specific professional development needs. In addition to discussion of the latest scholarship, participants explore how to implement ideas and materials from the seminar into their classroom teaching with colleagues from their school or department. The Newberry is pleased to offer the following programs in a half-day (3-hour) or full-day (5-hour) format.
The World of Dante
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) is one of the most famous and influential authors in history. The Newberry’s rich collection of premodern Italian materials reveals the cultural forces and movements that shaped Dante’s experience, ultimately leading to the creation of some of the greatest works in the history of world literature. Devotional commonplace books, theological treatises, government documents, and textbooks reveal the religious, political, and intellectual world in which Dante lived, while richly illustrated manuscripts and early printed editions of Dante’s works give a sense of how his audiences received, shared, and interpreted his work.
This session will explore the world created by the series of international conflicts known collectively as the Crusades. Manuscripts, documents, and early printed books in the Newberry’s collection can introduce participants to the history, experience, and idea of crusading from the late eleventh through the mid-sixteenth century. Collection highlights such as sermons, papal indulgences, and devotional works help explain the religious motivations behind these movements, while chronicles, letters, and maps will help participants enter into the experience of crusading, from both a European and Muslim perspective. Other collection items, such as Crusade liturgy and sermons, illustrate the impact and meaning of the Crusades for those far away from the battlefields.
Premodern Globalization: Travel, Trade, and Contact in the Early Modern World
Between 1450 and 1700, the world became a bigger place. Travelers, traders, and conquerors built new economic, political, and religious connections throughout the world, creating a truly global system for the first time. This session introduces participants to the experiences of living in a world that was constantly and rapidly expanding. Participants will learn the stories of the indigenous peoples in the Americas, Africa, and Asia through pictorial wills, missionary manuscripts, and travel narratives, which collectively reveal what life in these regions was like before the brutal consequences of early modern globalization. Early modern maps and atlases track the gradual expansion of European culture throughout the world, while travel accounts and diaries provide a glimpse into how Europeans came to terms with lands and people that had previously been legendary, mysterious, or completely unknown.
Daily Life in Medieval/Early Modern Europe
Come learn about the day-to-day experience of individuals from all walks of life in Europe before 1789. The routines, expectations, and aspirations of everyone from nobles to ordinary peasants are preserved in the Newberry’s rich collection of medieval and early modern manuscripts, maps, and printed books. Explore primary sources such as administrative documents (charters, legal codes, maps), educational materials (textbooks, dictionaries, primers), and personal items (commonplace books, letters, prayer books) to understand how premodern Europeans worked, learned, worshiped, traveled, and more.
Othello and Racial Performance
How was racial difference constructed and performed in Shakespeare’s theater? As the critic Dympna Callaghan famously reminds us, “Othello was a white man.” In other words, because people of color were barred from self-representation on the Renaissance stage, white English actors impersonated blackness for the first two hundred years of Othello’s production history. In this session, we will study the historical contexts and material conditions of racial impersonation. How were racial prostheses and cosmetic ointments mobilized by white, male actors to represent marginalized groups on the Renaissance stage? What is the political import of racial performance, and how did the theater help consolidate oppressive structures of power? Participants will consider possible classroom applications of these questions. They will brainstorm ways to explore and critique, along with their students, contemporary modes of racial impersonation, including digital blackface and Hollywood casting patterns, as well as the values and limitations of competing casting models in theatrical performance (including race-blind productions and ensembles that feature all-black casts).
Women Writers in the Age of Shakespeare
Shakespeare wrote during a time that is often seen as a golden era of European literary culture: an age bursting with great “men of letters.” But men have never held a monopoly on the poetic arts. Even in Shakespeare’s time, women created fantastic, beautiful, heartbreaking, and hilarious literature. This custom program draws on the Newberry’s outstanding collection of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts—printed books, manuscripts, letters, pamphlets, and more—to give due credit to Renaissance women writers, and to prepare teachers to bring “Shakespeare’s sisters” front-and-center in their classrooms. We will spend time with the print and manuscript works of Lady Mary Wroth, a fearless author exiled from court after mocking high-ranking noblemen in her writing. We’ll get to know Margaret Cavendish, a philosopher-scientist-poet-playwright who wrote what has been described as world’s first science fiction novel. And we’ll examine the works of other women such as playwright Aphra Behn; professional poet Aemelia Lanyer; writer-queens Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots; and others. While we may occasionally put these authors in conversation with more “canonical” men, including Shakespeare, we will prioritize these women and their writing throughout the session.
Laughter and Tears: A History of American War Cartoons
American war-time cartoons provide an engaging and revealing way to understand the history of this country’s military conflicts. Cartoons document the soldier’s experience, make light of government and military decisions, and illustrate the behavior of those on the home front. As opposed to other news forms—articles, essays, and op ed pieces–cartoons were highly visible and wildly accessible. They are the result of a complex relationship between artists, the press, and in some cases, government agencies. From an artistic standpoint, cartoonists made stylish and memorable imagery. This session will include discussion and PowerPoint presentations; and we will also examine first-hand important cartoons as primary sources from the Newberry’s Collection. Participants will come away with an enhanced understanding of America’s wars as they are documented in these sparkling but sober examples of American visual culture.
Eddy Street: Looking for History in a Very Small Place
This seminar applies the techniques of micro-history – the intense exploration of a tightly-focused time or place – to a tiny slice of twentieth century Chicago. It starts on the Fourth of July 1961 on the 6100 block of W. Eddy Street, out in the north side’s bungalow belt. From there it spins backward to explore class, race, immigration, assimilation, opportunity, mobility, war, and peace as they were experienced by one the block’s thirty-six families. In the process, the seminar tries to show how revealing and compelling it can be to go looking for history in very small places.
For more information or to schedule a seminar, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newberry Teacher Fellowships
These individual appointments provide K-12 educators with an opportunity to create unique classroom content while engaged in scholarly research at the Newberry. Using primary source materials from the Newberry’s collection, fellowship recipients work with library staff to develop digital teaching resources that support the Common Core State Standards. Research fellowships for teachers are currently awarded on a yearly basis. Learn more about the Newberry Teacher Fellowship.