Assistant Professor of EnglishUniversity of Maryland, College Park
My research and teaching focus on early modern literature, media theory and music. I am currently writing a book about song, mediation and poïesis from Shakespeare and Sidney to Jonson and Milton.
The book traces the development of verse with a musical dimension in the poetic and theatrical cultures of the period, beginning with the renewed interest in musical humanism among Sidney and his peers, and continuing through Milton’s fascination with musical language and experience. Song was an essential part of the literary canon, and it circulated ubiquitously in written format. Yet it was also highly performative, inseparable from the rhythmic, vocal and instrumental conditions of its recital. As such, song brings out the extensive interaction between writing and sound in sixteenth- and seventeeth-century literary culture.
Drawing on media theory, I argue that song reveals a continual struggle to define literature, from Sidney's emphasis on the musical properties of writing in The Defence of Poesie to Milton's conception of the printed book as a profoundly performative medium in Areopagitica. I theorize literature as a process of mediation -- an intersection of technologies, performers, formats and authors in which writing was an important but by no means exclusive component.
I also have research interests in the history of the lyric, early Tudor culture, Renaissance pageants and entertainments, gender studies, and the history of formalism. My work has been published, or is forthcoming, in Shakespeare Quarterly, Studies in Philology and edited collections. Click here to view my publications and here for conference papers.
My research in media studies plays out in my teaching, where I ask students to draw connections between early modern literature and our own historical moment. My courses are grounded in close readings of literary texts, but I incorporate music, film and television into the classroom, and I use course blogs to ask how online interfaces relate to the inter-media literary environment of the early modern period, when the printed book remained a “new” medium.
Attendees of the Digital Studies / Early Modern Texts Symposium at Rutgers: you can view the links mentioned in my presentation here.
Early Modern Media Ecologies, Modern Language Association, Chicago, January 2013
This winter, I'll be speaking in an MLA panel on the profoundly interactive relationship among diverse media in early modern
England. Bringing together young scholars who specialize in Renaissance
literary studies and the digital humanities, the panel will use new
media to reflect on early modern media hybridities. Our presentations
will show how sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature is at once
biological and technological – how actors, printers, musicians and
needleworkers participated in literary processes that cannot be limited
to writing. Further information and abstracts are available here.
"Multimodal Sidney: Digital Curation and Early Modern Poïesis," November 2013
On November 8, I'll be giving a lecture in a colloquium called Digital Humanities / Early Modern Texts at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
My presentation will show how audio- and image-rich web interfaces offer a means of exploring early modern poetic and musical culture, including William Byrd's musical settings of Philip Sidney's verse. The digital humanities present
an opportunity to
bring out the kinds of interactivity among media
sites that would have been intuitive to the Sidney Circle.
Early Modern Digital Agendas, July 2013
I'm excited to be participating in the NEH-funded Early Modern Digital Agendas at the Folger Shakespeare Library this month. This three-week institute will act as a kind of lab for current and emergent digital and online projects, allowing scholars to communicate and collaborate on research that moves into new media spaces. The institute also offers the opportunity to theorize and evaluate the current state of the digital humanities, specifically as they intersect with early modern literary studies. Follow us on Twitter #EMDA13.
"'Effeminate Carriage': Gendered Performance in Thomas Campion's Lute Songs"
On April 26, I'll be giving a presentation on Thomas Campion’s "books of ayres," or songbooks for lute and voice, and their fascination with ambiguously gendered singing voices. Designed for a domestic performance milieu that included women, Campion's songs betray uneasiness about a poet and a composer's capacity to determine gender and to control performance. Through their dynamic, collaborative mode of production, books of ayres enabled female performers to shape poetic and musical culture.