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 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.
Sound+, March 27-29, 2014
This year I have been co-organizing a major conference in sound studies, multimodal scholarship and the cultural history of listening. Bringing together leading scholars who have helped to reconceive the relationship between sound and text, the conference directs attention to cultures, contexts and objects previously analyzed through approaches that privileged the eye. Workshops, poster sessions, plenary lectures, panels and even an interdisciplinary conversation including neurobiologists will ask how writing encodes or remediates sound, how sound reshapes politics, and how literature is shaped by acoustic technologies from voice to byte. Register today!
Graduate teaching, Spring 2014
I'm looking forward to teaching "Early Modern Media," a course on philosophies of communication and Renaissance literature. The readings place texts including Sidney’s Arcadia, Spenser’s Faerie Queene and Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair alongside theorists ranging from Plato, Augustine and Locke to Jussi Parikka, Bruno Latour and N. Katherine Hayles. We'll look at the processes, technologies and cultural protocols that shape literary texts as they move through manuscript leafs, printed books, musical performances, open-air amphitheaters, indoor playhouses, outdoor pageants and more. Have a look at the syllabus here.
Early Modern Theatricality, from Oxford University Press, is just out (Winter 2014)
Each of the essays in this volume takes up a key formal component of early modern playing – an adventurous concept, distilled into one word, that aims at an “exploded view” of the structures and imaginative resources of the theater. My contribution, “Occasion,” takes up outdoor pageantry as an example of the propensity of the theater to extend wildly across space and time. Download a copy of my essay here.
Early Modern Media Ecologies, Modern Language Association, Chicago, January 2014
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. Read Jen Boyle's response paper to the panel here.