School of Arts and Cultures

Staff Profiles

Dr Kirsten Gibson

Senior Lecturer and Head of Music



I read music at Newcastle University, graduating in 2000 and winning the David Barlow Best Finalist Prize, and completed an AHRC-funded PhD in 2006 on John Dowland’s printed ayres supervised by Dr Ian Biddle and Prof Magnus Williamson. My research focuses on music in early modern England, placing it in broader cultural contexts through explorations of poetry, politics, print, authorship, gender, status, book history and the history of reading.

In 2005 I was appointed lecturer in music at The Open University where I oversaw the production of a new introductory course, ‘Start Listening to Music’, and the following year I was appointed lecturer in music at Newcastle University. My teaching and research supervision covers musical culture in sixteenth-, seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century England, and I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I also appear on BBC Radio 3's Record Review as a guest expert reviewing recordings of Dowland, Purcell and their contemporaries.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Head of Music


  • BA (Hons), First Class
  • MLitt, with Distinction
  • PhD ('John Dowland's Printed Ayres: Texts, Contexts, Intertexts'), AHRB-Funded (now AHRC)
  • CASAP (Certificate of Advanced Studies in Academic Practice)



Research Interests

My research focuses on three particular aspects of musical and literary culture in early modern England: musical print culture; literature on music and masculinity; and the printed music and career of the lutenist and composer John Dowland. My published work on Dowland includes articles on his authorial self-fashioning in print, his settings and publication of lyrics by Elizabethan courtier poets and the politico-courtly aspects of his songs. I have also worked more broadly on the ways in which ideas about musical creativity were presented in printed music books at the turn of the seventeenth century. I am co-editor with Ian Biddle of a collection of essays on masculinity and Western musical practice, and have published work on early modern writings about music and masculinity in relation to the popular malady of the age, melancholy, and in relation to ideas about age and life stage. I am also co-editor with Ian Biddle of a collection of essays on cultural histories of noise, sound and listening from the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century.

Current Work

My current work continues to focus on music books in early modern England, but shifts the emphasis from the production of books towards a history of reading. My research traces the sale, circulation and ownership of music books from the sixteenth to the early eighteenth centuries, and explores the figuring of the 'reader' within such books as well as the recreational music making market for which these books were predominantly published. This work charts the spread of literate recreational music making - socially and geographically - over the course of the period, and also explores the conduct literature that encouraged, or indeed discouraged, musical skill for various kinds of readers. As part of this research I am working on the print trade and recreational music making in early modern Newcastle upon Tyne and, with Stephanie Carter and Roz Southey, I am preparing a volume of essays on music in north-east England before 1850.

Postgraduate Supervision

I supervise Masters and doctoral research on various aspects of music in early modern England, and particularly welcome enquires to work on any of the research areas outlined above.


Undergraduate Teaching

MUS1012: Understanding Music History (Module Leader)

MUS2074: Music in the Renaissance


Postgraduate Teaching

Case Studies in Music History (co-taught with Ian Biddle)