Introducing Scott Trudell
Introducing Assistant Professor
What is your current project, and what led you to it?
I'm writing a book about song culture and literary form in early modern England. I begin with the resurgence of interest in music among Sidney and his peers, work through Shakespeare, Jonson and other theatrical songwriters, and conclude with Milton, who was fascinated with musical language and experience. Because song is wedged between writing and sound, it raises questions about what constitutes literature, what separates it from other endeavors, and how literary form adapts as it circulates in diverse media.
What are you most looking forward to as you teach this fall? Can you tell us a little about your approach(es) to Shakespeare?
In the fall I’m teaching a course on Shakespeare’s early plays and a course on Shakespeare and his contemporary dramatists. We will move between the written word (sonnets have a prominent place in my Shakespeare courses), the sound of the voice (I like to play music, ask students to read aloud, and assign readings on Renaissance physiology), and the arrangement of theatrical space (students in my courses become familiar with the diverse array of early modern playing spaces). We’ll also explore connections between the multi-media environment of the early modern theater and the intersection of digital pixels, recorded sounds, and embodied performance in contemporary culture.
You’re coming to us from Rutgers University; tell us a little bit about how this experience has shaped you as a teacher and scholar, and what you hope to bring with you as you start anew here.
Like UMD, Rutgers is a large state university with a diverse student body. My favorite part of teaching at Rutgers was the rich cultural diversity of my classes, including many students from immigrant backgrounds. My teaching style has been shaped by their perspectives: I often left class intrigued by how my students’ responses to a text differed from mine, and from each other’s. I became increasingly interested in putting these perspectives into dialogue, and I began to encourage my students to draw connections between course texts and contemporary culture. My incorporation of film and television clips into the classroom, my use of course blogs, and my emphasis on active class participation stem from my experience at Rutgers.
What was the last book you read that you really enjoyed? Why?
I recently read J. M. Coetzee's Diary of a Bad Year and really enjoyed it. At the center of the novel is a writer’s wry, resigned, vaguely sexual relationship to his neighbor and typist. As with Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello, it’s impossible to divide the protagonist from Coetzee himself, or to divide fiction from nonfiction, since the novel is full of frank and blistering essays. And, as always with Coetzee, it’s written in sly, masterful prose.
What occupies your time and interests when you aren’t teaching and researching?
Lately I’ve been trying to learn blues piano. I also like to travel, especially to London, where I lived for several years (though any trip to London these days involves research!) This summer I traveled by rail from Moscow to Beijing, on the Trans-Siberian railway to the foothills of the Ural Mountains, then south through Kazakhstan and on the Silk Road route through China. That was quite an adventure. Now that I live in the DC area I’d like to explore Shenandoah National Park, and you might find me jogging in Rock Creek Park.