M4C Logo AHRC Logo

Eleanor Hedger

Music, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Singing in the Face of Death: Music and Martyrdom during the English Reformation 1553-1649

My research explores the relationship between sound, conflict, and punishment during the political and religious turbulence of the long English Reformation. Specifically, I explore the ways in which sound functioned during rituals of punishment, such as public executions, and also how sound reflected and heightened aspects of social conflict in spaces such as the early modern prison. I hope to demonstrate that consideration of the sonic experience of such rituals and spaces can serve as a conduit for investigating the complex social, political, and religious tensions that surfaced during this period. In drawing upon the work of Michel Foucault, I offer a critical and theoretical analysis of the ways in which music and sound interacted with, and even altered, networks of power and resistance in an early modern context.  

Research Area

  • Music


'Heinrich Isaac's Missa Comme femme desconfortée: A Musical Offering to the Virgin Mary', in Henricus Isaac (ca. 1450-1617): Composition - Reception - Interpretation, edited by S. Gasch, M. Grassl, B. Lodes and A. V. Rabe (Forthcoming, 2019).



'Lamentable Shrieks' and 'Audible Voices': Female Vocality during Public Executions in Early Modern England

''Tinging kettles and fry-pan Musicke': Rough Music and Popular Justice in Early Modern England', paper presented at Borderlines XXIII, 'Sound and Silence in the Medieval and Early Modern World', Trinity College Dublin, 26 April - 28 April 2019.

Lightning presentation given at Early Modern Global Soundscapes: A Workshop, University of York, 25-26 January 2019. 


'Prison Soundscapes during the English Reformation', paper presented at Reformation Studies Colloquium, University of Essex, 30 August - 1 September 2018. 

'Prison Soundscapes during the English Reformation', paper presented at the international Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference, Maynooth University, 5-8 July 2018.

'Soundscapes of Martyrdom during the English Reformation', paper presented at EMREM Postgraduate Annual Symposium: 'Truth, Lies, and Deception', University of Birmingham, 17-18 May 2018.

'The Politics of Song: Authority and Subversion at the Gallows', paper presented at Loyalty to the British Monarchy c. 1400-1688, University of Nottingham, 24 January 2018


'Heinrich Isaac's Missa Comme femme desconfortée: a Musical Offering to the Virgin Mary', paper presented at Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference, Prague, July 2017.


Conference assistant at the Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference, University of Sheffield, July 2016.

'That noble traine that fought with word & not with sword': Power, Resistance, and Public Execution in Sixteenth-Century England, paper presented at Border Crossings: Exploring the boundaries between the visible and the invisible in the Humanities, University of Stirling, June 2016.


'Power, Resistance, and Public Execution: Last Dying Speeches and Music in Sixteenth-Century England', paper presented at the NWCDTP Arts and Humanities Postgraduate Conference at Keele University, October 2015.

Public Engagement & Impact


Lecture given Bishop's Tachbrook History Group, 8 October 2019

Volunteering for the charity Leamington Music - assisting with social media and the early music concert series

Other Research Interests

  • Michel Foucault
  • English Reformations
  • Death and Religion
  • Crime and Punishment in Early Modern England
  • Soundscapes of Early Modern England
  • Sound studies
  • Gender studies

Scholarly Engagement

  • Assistant editor for the Midlands Historical Review
  • Member of the EMREM committee, University of Birmingham (Early Medieval - Renaissance - Reformation - Early Modern)
  • College of Arts and Law PGR Mentor (2018-19)


  • Postgraduate Teaching Associate for the first year undergraduate module 'Reformation, Rebellion, and Revolution: The Making of the Modern World' (Autumn Term, 2018)
  • Single seminar taught for the Undergraduate module 'Love, Death, Religion, and Music in the Renaissance' (Autumn Term, 2019)
  • Single seminar taught for the Masters module 'Advanced Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music' (Autumn Term, 2019)