Sharon Harris, a PhD candidate in Early Modern literature, has been awarded a Predoctoral Fellowship from the UCLA Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies to conduct research at the William Andrews Clark Library. In her dissertation, “Moving Music: Theory and Practice in Early Modern English Drama and Poetry,” Harris studies the power of music to move physically and otherwise as represented in early modern literature. This temporary residential fellowship helps Harris research songbook and poetry manuscripts at the Clark Library for the final chapter of her project, “Publics, Performances, and Publications: From a Musico-Literary Coterie to a Public Music Market in the Mid-Seventeenth Century.”
In this chapter Harris illustrates music’s power to move physically and socially in response to political pressures and economic opportunities. It explores poetry originally produced by musico-literary coteries that became popularized in musical performances to public or semi-public audiences in the mid-seventeenth century. The chapter investigates to what extent the rise of these semi-public and public performances of songs relate to the enormous increase in music publications beginning in the 1650s. Harris writes,
These works come from a turbulent time in English history during the English Civil War when the court dispersed and, consequently, court musicians found themselves without work. These musicians collaborated with poets to produce several songs, and this trend preceded an explosive growth in musical publications, especially from the publisher John Playford. Despite scant written accounts of this trend and very little scholarship on it, Mary Chan, Stacey Jocoy, and others have made a persuasive case that these performances helped create a public market and customer base for John Playford’s numerous musical publications beginning in the 1650s.
The Predoctoral Fellowship allows Harris to study manuscripts from this period that contain songs that circulated decades before they first appeared in printed songbooks in the 1650s. The manuscript holdings at the Clark Library are among the highlights of their collection.