Anne Boleyn, Musician: A Romance Across Centuries and Media

March 24, 2021

This presentation situates Anne Boleyn's reputed musicality within five centuries of endless fascination with the doomed second wife of Henry VIII. From less than a year after her execution through our own time, an ever-expanding array of biographical accounts, scholarly studies, and more imaginative representations of Anne in every conceivable artistic medium have presented her as a singer, instrumentalist, composer, and/or consumer of musical performances and products. 

It seems that even the most otherwise rigid academic studies have participated in what historians and cultural critics have identified as successive romanticisms of Anne, and, conversely, even unabashedly fictitious representations of her have replicated musical information first put forward the year of her death. At the center of this endless stream of contrasting depictions stand questions of Anne’s musical agency, musical training, and with whom she shared her prodigious musical abilities and exacting tastes. 

About the Presenter

Linda Austern is a specialist in Western European, and especially English, music of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and early eighteenth centuries. Her expertise includes the intersections between music and the visual arts, gender and sexuality, natural philosophy, and the Shakespearean theater.

This event was presented by the Northwestern Alumni Association in conjunction with Women's History Month.

The views and opinions expressed by our speakers and participants do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Northwestern University or its affiliates.

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