Department of English

Katherine Cox Wins the James Holly Hanford Article Award

Mon, November 13, 2017
Katherine Cox Wins the James Holly Hanford Article Award
Katherine Cox

Katherine Cox was awarded the James Holly Hanford Article Award for her essay, "'How cam’st thou speakable of mute’: Satanic Acoustics in Paradise Lost,” which appeared in Milton Studies 57 (Dec. 2016). The award is given annually by the Milton Society of America to a “distinguished article on Milton published in a journal or in a multi-author collection of essays." Even more impressive, however, is that Katherine is the only graduate student to win the Hanford Article Award in its 50 years of existence. Competing with over 100 articles, some written by internationally renowned senior professors, this is indeed an astounding accomplishment!

"How cam’st thou speakable of mute" explains a mysterious crux of Paradise Lost: how does Satan cause the serpent in the Garden of Eden to speak? The article argues that Satan's vocalization of the snake fits into a representational pattern in the epic that depicts Satan as a maker and operator of musical, mechanical, and bodily organs. Discovering a striking resemblance between Milton's description of the talking snake and a Renaissance wind instrument called the serpent, the article situates the epic's Satanic acoustics in music and art history and reveals that, for Milton, corrupted sounds are a key environmental manifestation of the Fall.

Katherine received the Hanford Article Award while completing her doctoral degree at UT, and has now received her Ph.D. from the UT English Department where she holds the position of lecturer. Her interdisciplinary scholarship examines the environmental implications of intersections between science and religion in the Renaissance period. Her dissertation, "The Science of Sound in the Poetry of John Milton," directed by John Rumrich, won the 2016 Department of English Outstanding Dissertation Award. Demonstrating the influence of meteorological demonology and 17th-century mechanistic explanations of the air in Milton's poetry, her book project, "Climate Change and Original Sin: Meteorology and Acoustics in the Age of Milton," argues that Milton interpolates irreversible climate change into the myth of the Fall, portraying the postlapsarian atmosphere as a primary instrument of the Genesis curse. Since 2009, Katherine has taught multiple courses in the English, Rhetoric, and Undergraduate Studies programs at UT on a range of subjects including British poetry, Shakespeare, geography in literature, and banned books.


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