At Merton, I am working on my first monograph, titled Alternative Orthodoxies: Religious Culture and the Vernacular Arts in Arras, 1000–1250. This project, stemming from my PhD thesis, posits a relationship between the vernacular musical and literary culture for which the city of Arras is notable in the thirteenth century and an evolving culture of religious dissent in the city, witnessed from the early eleventh century. Arguing that the foundations for Arrageois song were set long before the appearance of the first trouvères, or vernacular poet-composers and musicians, I trace a reciprocal relationship between religious dissent and vernacular song particular to Arras and its surrounding regions. Critical to my study is a combination of historical, musicological, exegetical, and prosopographical investigation, thereby combining approaches and methodologies from across the spectrum of medieval studies.
In addition to this, I’ll be launching a second project while at Merton that turns south to the Midi or Occitania, and considers musical traditions in Latin and Occitan, re-appraising the relationship between musical, sonic, and cultural life in the region and Cathar heresy. I plan especially to focus on women’s voices, both in song as well as in historical records, including those relating to trials for heresy. In exploring the more contextual ways in which women engaged with cultural life in this region, and putting those into dialogue with their own conceptions of belief, I hope to reveal new and compelling interrelations between cultural phenomena–across the divides of Latin and vernacular, or lay and liturgical—and political, social, and religious movements and events.
I am especially interested in fostering cross- and inter-disciplinary connections, both in my own research and in collaborative work. Currently, I serve as the chair of the London Society for Medieval Studies, a cross-disciplinary seminar series at the Institute of Historical Research.