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Katie Nelson - ePortfolio

After double-majoring in History and English Literature at Weber State University in Utah, I earned a BS (hons) in 2004 and went on to study British History with Norman Jones at Utah State University, completing an MA in 2006. During these years I worked in the music world and also taught private piano lessons. A melding of my interests in music and early modern history, my master's thesis focused on Tudor musician Thomas Whythorne and his social world, and marked the beginning of my continuing exploration into the the world of early modern musicians.

I spent a happy year teaching ancient and early modern history at Weber State University as Adjunct Instructor and Lecturer before moving to England in 2007 to attend the University of Warwick. I earned my PhD in 2011 and have returned to Weber State University to teach. Watch for my forthcoming article on Tudor music tutors in Early Music.

Please note my new email address:

About my Research

Supervisors: Professors Bernard Capp and Peter Marshall 

Department: History

Funding: Warwick Postgraduate Research Scholarship, 2007-2010


Thomas Whythorne’s manuscript is an autobiography from a time when conventional wisdom teaches that such texts did not ‘exist’. Rich in self-exploration and social commentary, Whythorne’s life story has been strangely neglected since its discovery in 1955, particularly by social historians. His narrative begins at childhood, and progresses chronologically through his life as he rubs shoulders with some of the most prominent people in England. Whythorne offers us a great number of vivid, richly detailed descriptions of life as an English musician and tutor. His manuscript is also crammed with stories of failed romances, strong women, and painfully bad luck. His life never seemed to measure up to his expectations, and in the end he reflected on how life is only ‘wrapped in calamities’. His tale is tragic but funny too – and also deeply, sometimes shockingly personal. Working outwards from a careful examination of his text, it may now be possible to shed light on the shadowy figures of professional musicians in early modern England.

My dissertation examines the social world of Tudor musicians, using Whythorne's manuscript as a central point of discussion and jumping-off point. Research focuses on the following areas:

1. Thomas Whythorne's Life Story: searching for evidence

2. The Manuscript Itself: examining and reevaluating the clues to its date of composition

3. Tudor Musicians I: the structure of the profession

4. Tudor Musicians II: examining professional groups in turn: minstrels, waits, church musicians, household musicians, court musicians

5. Tudor Musicians III: private music tutors

6. Music Printing and Social Ambition: Whythorne's pioneering role in music printing, and the social risks and benefits of publishing music

Whythorne's extraordinarily human story proves an invaluable window into the world of professional musicians in Tudor England.


July 2010: 'Printers and Musicians: Music Printing and Social Climbing in Early Modern England'.
Society for Renaissance Studies Biennial Conference, York.

Feb 2010: 'Love in the Music Room: Thomas Whythorne's Manuscript and the Private Affairs of Tudor Music Tutors'.
Music, Literature, Illustration: Collaboration and Networks in English Manuscript Culture, 1500-1700, Chawton House Library (University of Southampton)

Jan 2010: 'A Look Into the Shadowy Lives of Tudor Music Tutors Through the Manuscript of Thomas Whythorne'.
Newberry Library Annual Graduate Student Conference, Chicago.

Sep 2008: 'Reconsidering the Dating of Tudor Musician Thomas Whythorne's Manuscript'.
Text and Image in Early Modern Society, University of Sussex.

May 2008: 'The First English Autobiography? Tudor Musician Thomas Whythorne and his Manuscript'.
Annual History Postgraduate Conference, University of Warwick.

April 2005: 'I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts: Kaysville Teens and Their Ghost Stories'.
Graduate Research Symposium, Utah State University. College of Humanities Arts & Social Sciences Outstanding Paper.

Spring 2003: 'Grandpa’s War'. Scribendi 17 (2003): 38-44.
An honours undergraduate journal out of the University of New Mexico. Essay on WWII 'tin can' sailors’ experiences at sea.


History Tutor, Department of History, 2008-2010
University of Warwick
History 203, The European World 1500-1800

Adjunct Instructor/Lecturer, Department of History, 2006-2007
Weber State University
History 1500, World History to 1500

Teaching Assistant, Department of History, 2004-2006
Utah State University
History 1040, Ancient and Medieval Western Civ
Humanities 1320, Ancient and Medieval Civ and Religion

Teaching Intern, Department of History, 2005-2006
Utah State University
History 4320, History of Christianity
History 4250, Reformation Britain

Substitute Teacher, all subjects and grade levels, 2000-2002
Davis County School District, Utah


  • Newberry Library Centre for Renaissance Studies Travel Fellowship, 2010
  • Humanities Research Centre Fellowship, 2008
  • Society for Renaissance Studies Bursary, 2008, 2010
  • Warwick Postgraduate Research Fellowship, 2007-2010
  • USU Carr Research Fellowship, 2004 and 2005
  • USU Carr Summer Research Fellowship, 2005
  • WSU College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Graduate, 2004
  • WSU College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Commencement Speaker, 2004
  • WSU History Department Outstanding Graduate, 2004
  • WSU Undergraduate Research Fellowship, 2004
  • WSU L.A. Sessions History Scholar, 2004
  • WSU Lampros History Scholar, 2003

Katie Nelson

Thomas Whythorne