Current Research Projects

Elizabethan and Early Jacobean Praises of Music, edited collection under contract with Routledge

This edited collection, co-edited with Katherine Butler, examines the “praise of music” literature prominent in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century England: writings defending music (and especially church music) from those who opposed it on moral and theological grounds, The book presents essays and critical editions to enable sustained thematic analysis of the genre as a whole. Most notable among its editions is the anonymous early Jacobean Praise of musick manuscript (BL Royal MS 18.B.xix), not currently available as a critical edition, alongside new editions of several shorter “Praise of Music” texts currently available separately in out-of-print texts. Accompanying the editions are nine essays by musicologists and English literature scholars which offer a broad range of perspectives on the praise of music genre, including political function, social ethics, humanist philology, medical philosophy, Protestant theology, and connections with medieval music theory, thus giving insight into the state of early modern English musical thought and its primary debates.

Reading The Whole Booke of Psalmes

In this monograph, I examine the English Reformation’s primary hymnal from the perspective of book history and the history of reading, considering how this popular book was read, what readers were instructed to learn from paratextual materials, and what we can learn about Elizabethan publishers and typesetters by reading it closely ourselves.

“‘God is pleasde, with such lyke armony’: Protestant Praise of Music in Elizabethan and early Jacobean England,” essay for Elizabethan and Early Jacobean Praises of Music

Responding to arguments of music’s inherent immorality (especially in ballads) in the 1560s, to Puritan critiques of church music (especially professional choirs and organs) at the end of the century, and to religious and cultural shifts more generally, praises and defenses of music in sixteenth-century England usually employed theological reasoning alongside classical and mythological explanations. This essay examines the Protestant elements of the praise of music genre in Elizabethan and early Jacobean England, discussing the use of Scripture and the writings of the church fathers, examining how these ideas are used to defend music and musical practice, and accounting for the authors’ choices of particular biblical passages and patristic authors. Among the distinctively Protestant characteristics of these choices is a distinctive rejection of medieval theologians, reflecting the Protestant vision for the church as returning to apostolic purity after a long period of decline (as described by the historical narrative work of Anthony Kemp and Kenneth Parker). The essay will further consider how theological defenses of music and explanations of its origin are employed in tandem with mythological references. Alongside reference to several shorter works in the praise of music genre, including Nicholas Whight’s Commendation of Musick (c. 1562), Henry Spooner’s I wyll not paynt to purchace prayes (c. 1562), and the anonymous Songe in praise of musique (c. 1603), this essay closely analyzes two under-examined longer texts: Thomas Whythorne’s praise of music in his autobiography (1576) and the anonymous Jacobean Praise of musick manuscript (c. 1610).