Assistant Professor of English
University of Maryland, College Park

My research and teaching focus on early modern poetry, drama, and music, together with media studies and performance theory. My current book project is entitled Unwritten Poetry: Song, Performance, and Media in Early Modern England.

The book studies the role of vocal music in the poetic and theatrical cultures of the English Renaissance, 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.

Unwritten Poetry approaches the early modern poetic field not simply in terms of book history or performance history but through a more synthetic media history. Conceiving of poetic "media" to consist of any node of transmission from 
singer's larynx to actor's body, I argue that the Renaissance literary canon was never restricted to writing. Virtuosic actor-singers redefined the theatrical culture of Shakespeare and his peers, and composers including William Byrd and Henry Lawes reshaped lyric transmission. Emphasizing poetry's inclinations toward media transformation and evanescence, I show how vocalists and composers challenged and reimagined literary culture.

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 Songscapes," an 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.

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 the 2018-19 academic year.

At MLA in January 2018, I will be presenting as part of a panel I organized together with Jim Knapp, which also features Colleen Rosenfeld and Adam Rzepka. Our aim is to focus attention on what the new materialism has lost, forgotten, ignored, and overwritten. Using Shakespeare as our touchstone, we attend to what is not and cannot be covered by the mantra of the material. Rather than continue to expand working definitions of material culture, that is, we ask what happens when we reject materiality as the threshold for meaningful evidence. In particular, we show how performance theory, feminism, and historical cognition help us speak about intangible, indirect, dispersed, abstract, and virtual dimensions of theatricality and poetics. My own paper will argue that the changeling boy in A Midsummer Night's Dream can be conceived as a "medium," helping open up a fresh understanding of the play’s famous inquiry into “shaping fantasies” and that which enacts them. Paper abstracts are available here.

Queer Meter

In the spring of 2017, I co-led a seminar at the Shakespeare Association of America conference on queer ways of “measuring” language. We asked: what non-normative temporalities do meter and versification invite and uncover? How might queer theory and gender studies allow us to return to afresh to “feminine” rhyme, Sapphic verse, the Marlovian line, and other of the period’s metrical kinks? How might disability studies afford another look at Orlando’s “lame” feet or other depictions of versifying as embarrassing or shameful? How might book history and media studies allow us to re-imagine what counts as verse in the first place, and how it is queered through editing and adaptation? And how does Shakespeare’s meter order time or undermine temporal order? Building on period conceptions of meter as quantified language, we are especially interested in how versification functions as a technology for measuring time: regulating it, dividing it, syncopating it, or otherwise giving it shape.