Assistant Professor of English
University of Maryland, College Park

My research and teaching focus on early modern poetry, drama, and music, as well as media studies and performance theory. My first book, Unwritten Poetry: Song, Performance, and Media in Early Modern England, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in March 2019.

The book studies the role of vocal music in the poetic and theatrical cultures of the English Renaissance. Virtuosic actor-singers redefined the theatrical culture of William Shakespeare and his peers. Composers including William Byrd and Henry Lawes shaped the transmission of Renaissance lyric verse. Poets from Philip Sidney to John Milton were fascinated by the disorienting influx of musical performance into their works. Musical performance was a driving force behind the period’s theatrical and poetic movements, yet its importance to literary history has long been ignored or effaced.

Unwritten Poetry reveals the impact of vocalists and composers upon the poetic culture of early modern England by studying the media through which—and by whom—its songs were made. In a literary field that was never confined to writing, media were not limited to material texts. I argue that the media of Renaissance poetry can be conceived as any node of transmission from singer’s larynx to actor’s body. Through my study of song, I outline a new approach to Renaissance poetry and drama that is grounded not simply in performance history or book history but in a more synthetic media history.

I have additional research interests in early Tudor culture, Renaissance pageantry, theories of lyric poetry, gender studies, formalism, and the digital humanities. I am currently collaborating with Katherine Larson (English, University of Toronto) and Sarah Williams (Music History, University of South Carolina) on Early Modern Songscapesan interdisciplinary web project on the musical performance of English Renaissance poetry. My work has been published in Shakespeare Quarterly, Studies in Philology, the Map of Early Modern London, and edited collections. Click here to view my publications and here for a selected list of presentations.

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 mediascape of the early modern period, when the printed book remained a “new” medium.

The digital humanities project for which I am a co-principal investigator is nearing the completion of its “beta” phase, which has two major components. The first is to launch our prototype website, which features an edition of Henry Lawes’s 1653 Ayres and Dialogues for One, Two, and Three Voices (including both text and musical notation), original and professional quality audio recordings of selected songs, an interface for visualizing variants, selected high-resolution images of the source text, and contextual materials. We chose this particular songbook both for its importance in the early modern “air” tradition that is our focus and because it is a text of great interest to scholars of the history of English poetry and music that has no modern edition. The website will be launched in January 2019.

The website launch coincides with the other main component of our beta phase, namely a symposium on intermedia approaches to song that will be held at the University of Toronto on February 8-9, 2019. This international, interdisciplinary conference will include musical recital and performer talkback sessions; keynote speakers Patricia Fumerton, Whitney Trettien, and Amanda Eubanks Winkler; and 35 accepted papers from scholars in early modern literature, music, and performance studies. It promises to be a major event in the field.

My co-PIs on project are Katherine Larson (English, University of Toronto) and Sarah Williams (Music History, University of South Carolina). Over the past two years, we have been working closely with Raffaele Viglianti, a research programmer at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, on the music and text encoding as well as our Javascript tool for visualizing song texts and musical notation. Our website infrastructure developed by and housed in the Digital Scholarship Unit of the University of Toronto, Scarborough Libraries.

Together with my colleague Laura Rosenthal, I am organizing a one-day conference that takes the interdisciplinary conversation in media history back to an especially vibrant intersection: the English Restoration, c. 1660-1700. This period of media novelty upon media novelty included newspapers, novels, still life, landscape painting, opera, and a newly cosmopolitan stage featuring female actors. The dynamic interactions across Restoration media were crucial to what made them appear to be so “new.” The conference, to be held on February 16, 2018, will feature William Germano, Stuart Sherman and Amanda Eubanks Winkler, and it will serve as the basis for a special issue of the journal Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660-1700. I will be guest editing this special issue, to be published in Fall 2018.