The winner of the Chauncey Wood Dissertation Award of the George Herbert Society for 2011-2013 is Dr. Simon Jackson, for “The Literary and Musical Activities of the Herbert Family.” Written at Christ’s College Cambridge under the direction of Dr. Gavin Alexander (Christ’s), with advisors Dr. Jessica Martin (Christ’s) and Dr. Claire Preston (Queen Mary College, University of London), the dissertation was defended successfully in November 2011. The thesis explores the literary and musical projects of the Herbert family group in the first decades of the seventeenth century. It takes George Herbert as its central figure, examining music as a significant feature of his verse. Situating Herbert’s roles as priest, poet and musician in the context of the cultural activities of members of his extended family, Dr. Jackson persuasively articulates the rich interdisciplinary interplay of musico-poetic relations in the early seventeenth century.
The panel of judges unanimously praised the depth and range of Dr. Jackson’s knowledge of music, the sympathy of his mind to the art of Herbert’s poetry, the precision of his scholarly method, and the lucidity and warmth of his prose. The wealth of contextual material in his study never overwhelms but always enriches the poetry in rewarding ways. We have long known that Herbert was a musician. We now know much more fully what that means.
The George Herbert Society also wishes to thank our distinguished panel of judges: Professor Sidney Gottlieb, Sacred Heart University, Editor, George Herbert Journal (Chair); Professor Jonathan F. S. Post, The University of California at Los Angeles; and Professor Helen Vendler, Harvard University.