Tentatively called Music and the Liberal Vision, my new monograph project explores how 19th-century British philosophical debates about knowing (certainty versus probability) underpinned nested discussions of faith, musical and literary aesthetics, and liberal ideals of hope. It studies the unpublished life writings and published treatises of a network of elite university, political and clerical families for whom musical passion was rooted in both highly competent musical training and in idealist conceptions. Recovering this neglected context supports my close readings of poetry, fiction, musical composition and painting in order to reveal how the representation of these interactive ideals served as an encoding for liberal beliefs and practices. The discovery of this elusive code has profound consequences for how we understand the arts of the period, political liberalism, idealist philosophy, and social work.
Also engaged in the field of digital humanities, I am co-directing the Sounding Victorian consortium with Sophie Fuller, leading the Sounding Tennyson project, and collaborating with Ewan Jones on the Tennyson collection hosted by the Cambridge Digital Library. Together, the Tennyson projects are part of The Tennysons Archive, the first digital archival grouping of Tennyson items. The aspects of this digital work focused on presenting sound are internationally innovative, thanks to our collaboration with the Walter J. Ong, S.J., Center for Digital Humanities at Saint Louis University. Sounding Tennyson is the first project worldwide to use sound with IIIF and is providing the origin for multiple fixtures in the A/V group.
With Ewan Jones, I have begun a co-authored academic book, One Music: The Tennysons' Performance of Family Life, which explores poetry as a communal process of many people and multiple art forms.