Emily Kent

Thesis title: “Minimizing" Mersenne: Music, Erudition, and Intellectual Community in the French Order of Minims (1611-1648)


I completed my BA at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., double majoring in music and history. Following this I lived in Austria for two years, first as as a scholar at the Universität Salzburg under a Fulbright Fellowship and then as a teaching assistant at the Pädagogische Hochschule in Vienna through the United States Teaching Assistantship Program. I completed an MSt in Early Modern History at Lincoln College, Oxford, before starting my PhD in History at the University of Edinburgh. I am generously funded by the Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship and the HCA School Doctoral Scholarship. 


MSt in History, University of Oxford (2019)

BA in Music and History, Georgetown University (2016) 

Responsibilities & affiliations

Committee member, Edinburgh Early Modern Network (University of Edinburgh) 

Undergraduate teaching

I am a tutor on Medieval Worlds: A Journey through the Middle Ages (HIST08035); Early Modern History: A Connected World (HIST08034); and Introduction to Historiography (HIST08044). 

Research summary

I am a researcher of early modern science and scholarship with a particular interest in the intersection between music theory and natural philosophy. I am also interested in reconstructing the various intellectual cultures (e.g. the social, institutional, or material factors shaping an individual's thinking) within which scholars and erudites worked. My dissertation focuses on the French polymath Marin Mersenne (1588-1648) and the unusual role he forged for himself as a prominent scholar while also a friar of the notoriously ascetic Minim Order. The Minims of Paris, the branch to which Mersenne belonged, were a uniquely endowed group of monks who benefitted from special political patronage and a rich set of resources which in turn produced many practicing scholars beyond Mersenne himself. As a Minim friar, living in a convent cell in the heart of Paris while also facilitating a continent-wide correspondence on top of his usual prodigious reading, experimenting, and publishing, Mersenne’s life can act as the spine to a larger cultural story about a different kind of erudition in a lesser understood era of philosophical enterprise. 

Affiliated research centres

Invited speaker

History of Science, Medicine and Technology Group Seminar (Edinburgh,  6 April 2022)

"A living dog amongst dead lions: Greek classicism and natural philosophy in the music scholarship of Edmund Chilmead (1610-1654)"


The Mind is its Own Place?: Early Modern Intellectual History in an Institutional Context                                                                                  

Convener for joint Oxford-Edinburgh conference held at New College, University of Oxford, 5-6 May 2022                                   

Enemies in the Early Modern World 1453-1789: Conflict, Culture and Control

Committee member for Edinburgh conference held online 26-29 March 2021

Papers delivered

ISIH 2023: Crisis and Change in Intellectual History since c. 1450 (Edinburgh, U.K., 4-6 September 2023) 

"Universal Harmony" and the Monastic Vita Contemplativa after the French Wars of Religion

Consonances I: Mathematics, Language, and the Moral Sense of Nature Conference (Maynooth, Ireland, August 30-September 1 2023

"Music and the Order of Minims: Re-Contextualizing Marin Mersenne’s Mathematics in Seventeenth-Century France"

Scientiae: Disciplines of Knowing Conference (Prague, Czech Republic, 7-10 June 2023)

"Minim 'Physico-Mathematicians': Marin Mersenne and Intellectual Community in the Seventeenth-Century Order of Minims"       

“The Mind is its Own Place?: Early Modern Intellectual History in an Institutional Context” (Oxford, U.K., 5-6 May 2022)         

“‘Minimizing’ Marin Mersenne: Tracing the Intellectual Culture of a Seventeenth-Century Parisian Convent”