James Cook: Postdoctoral Fellow (2015-16)

James Cook completed his doctorate at the University of Nottingham in 2014. His project is entitled The Strange Disappearance of English Music.


Fifteenth-century English music had a profound impact on mainland Europe and several important innovations are credited with being English in origin. However, the turbulent history of the church in England has left few English sources for this repertory. The developing narrative surrounding apparently English technical innovations has therefore often focussed on the recognition of English works in continental manuscripts and their routes of transmission. Until recently, these points of contact have been described primarily as incident based, relating to wars and councils. In reality, contact was frequent, multifarious and reciprocal. There existed many institutions supported by large émigré communities which offer valuable contexts not only for the presence of large amounts of English music in continental sources, but also for a number of works that can be understood only in terms of cultural exchange. Three articles will be published on single-work case studies, taken from my doctoral thesis, which epitomise precisely this cultural exchange.


Further research will be undertaken which extends the findings of my doctoral work, taking as its starting point the fact that scholars have so far failed to account for the lack of any surviving new English mass cycles in continental sources c.1475–1500. The institutions seemingly responsible for the repertory were still active, but no English music survives.  This preliminary research will involve examining the potential cultural contexts for the apparent insularity of English music from a variety of angles, resulting in a fourth article.