As a PhD candidate at NYU, I research British literature of the eighteenth century, with a focus on listening practices in the Enlightenment. I am currently writing the first book-length study of English music criticism as a literary genre.
In this online companion to my dissertation, you can discover how the genre of music criticism developed in historical context. Critiques of music can be traced to texts dating back to antiquity, but it was not until the eighteenth century that these critiques became the distinct category of writing known as “criticism.” My dissertation shows how this genre developed not through any emerging consensus over musical works, but through an intensifying disagreement over what qualified as authoritative judgment of those works. In eighteenth-century Britain, the rapid growth of print and performance multiplied the number of musical opinions and self-appointed arbiters of taste. The concept of “musical critic” and the genre of “musical criticism” emerged at this historical moment, when musical judges felt increasingly pressured to analyze not just the stage but also the growing number of opinionated listeners.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Turkish Embassy Letters: A Survey of Contemporary Criticism
Coauthored with Anna K. Sagal and Elizabeth Zold in Literature Compass Volume 14, Issue 10 October 2017 (Wiley & Sons). Since the publication of Robert Halsband’s biography of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in 1956 and his later edited collection of her letters, modern scholars have been fascinated with the network of critical discourses in Montagu’s writing in the Turkish Embassy Letters. Analyzing her work on multiple axes – religious, political, scientific, and gendered – contemporary critics have made this classic text accessible to new generations of readers and thinkers. Yet as scholarship on these letters continues to flourish, certain trends persist, often at the expense of new avenues of inquiry. This article proposes that several recent threads in the scholarly conversation surrounding the Turkish Embassy Letters have the potential to be expanded in three promising new directions to more fully explore Montagu’s religious identity and its relationship to her discussions of religious belief and practice; her unique role as a mother while traveling; and her place in the smallpox variolation controversy and its relationship to disability.