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Melinda Latour O'Brien
Tufts University (Medford, MA 02155-5818)
Moral Song in Late Renaissance France, 1550-1650

Preparation for publication of a book-length study of moral songs and ethics during the Wars of Religion in late sixteenth-century France.

The Voice of Virtue offers the first book-length study of moral song, a fascinating domain of musical activity that gained traction during the Wars of Religion in late sixteenth-century France. Setting pithy and sometimes profound morsels of vernacular wisdom to simple tunes or elaborate polyphonic compositions, moral song offered a multi-sensory engagement with contemporary ethical thought. Whereas Medieval ethics developed within the boundaries of professional philosophy, the Renaissance saw an explosion of informal expressions of moral philosophy created by and for non-specialists. This will be the first book to illuminate song as one such expression of informal ethics, animating diverse moral principles drawn from ancient sources for a broad community of amateur musicians. Positioned at a rich intersection between cultural and intellectual history, The Voice of Virtue stands to make a significant contribution to music scholarship, ethics, and the reparative turn in the humanities.

Project fields:
Ethics; French Literature; Music History and Criticism

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2018 – 8/31/2018