My new book project is currently titled Hearing the Elizabethan World: Music for the English Early Modern on Screen.
It’s not an entirely new project, though. I’ve been working on this topic since about 2014, and have published articles and given papers on it–see the bibliography below. But now I’m committed to writing it all up as a book. Like Music for the Kingdom of Shadows, it’s a project that would really benefit from being online, full of links and video and music. But I’d also like it to be widely available in print, so part of the work I need to do on it is think about publishers who would either want to publish it as an ebook or would be amenable to having an online companion site where all of the links and media could reside. Other work I’ve done has had companion sites–my Richard III chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies (companion site here), for instance–but I don’t know how widely those sites are used. Do readers go from reading on a Kindle or in print to the site?
It’s also important to me that the book, in whatever its final form, be affordable (ahem, Oxford, $200 for that above-mentioned Handbook is not acceptable). I’d like it to be completely Open Access, but right now I’m not sure what presses would allow that. University College London Press looks like a good choice, but I don’t have an institution to fund the fee (£5000-7000) that their OA platform requires.
I’ll be blogging the book-writing process here. Here’s my working TOC:
Introduction: Media and Music for the English Early Modern
This will establish the framework of the book, in which I will discuss the function of the cinematic or televisual soundtrack as an essential part of a screen work in its role in providing additional information to the viewer beyond the dialogue and visual elements about the setting, characters, and action. I will also discuss the role of music in creating the fictional world of the screen work, using Umberto Eco’s and Jaako Hintikka’s theories of doxastic worlds (fictional worlds with small deviations, created in the screen work, from our own real world) in literature and screen media. Although I expect the audience of this book to be primarily musicologists and film studies scholars, it is likely that it will be useful for those engaged in history and interdisciplinary studies as well. I will discuss several large-scale aspects of life—and our modern interpretations thereof—in the Elizabethan period: gender, religion, nationality, race, disability, and social status. In using these three aspects to frame the book, I will be creating analytical constructions that are useful for not only hearing this particular historical period as depicted in screen works, but which is also applicable to other historical periods used as the setting of other screen works.
Chapter 1: Music for Mute Elizabeths and Silent Shakespeares
An examination of the music published for and used to accompany silent films set in the Elizabethan period, dealing with Elizabeth, Shakespeare, and other figures of the period. Based on work I’ve presented at REMOSS and other conferences.
Chapter 2: Establishing England and Englishness
Using research on music in heritage film, propaganda film, and other screen media, I tease out the ways in which Englishness is musically signified from early sound film to the present, using case studies of select films and television series.
Chapter 3: Musicking Gender in Elizabethan Screen Media
Does what the label says, including film, television, and online media.
Chapter 4: Bad Chanting: Evil Monks, Treacherous Priests, and the Religious Other
How the music in sound films informs perception of religious discord and violence in screen media depicting the period.
Chapter 5: The Elizabethan Other
Race and disability. Possibly two separate chapters. Possible combined with Chapter 4 for a chapter on all kinds of Otherness. Suggestions welcome.
Chapter 6: The Sounds of Social Status and Legacy
How does music tell perceivers who’s in power? How do we understand hierarchy as communicated through music? What are composers trying to say about the legacies of important Elizabethan figures with their scoring choices?
Conclusion: Avenues for Further Research
To quote Buffy, where do we go from here? (Ludomusicology, for one place.)