James A. Winn, whose scholarly writings on Queen Anne, John Dryden and other subjects showed the influence of his side interest as a professional-caliber flutist, died March 21 at his home in Brattleboro, Vermont. He was 71.
His son, Philip, said the cause was pancreatic cancer.
Winn, who taught most recently at Boston University, was interested in a wide range of topics. His book subjects also included Alexander Pope’s letters and the poetry of war. He wrote essays on Bach and on the Beatles.
In all of that work, he sought to expand the often narrow scope of academic inquiry. His 2014 biography, “Queen Anne: Patroness of Arts,” for instance, examined that British monarch’s often discounted reign (1702-1714) through the lens of the cultural offerings of the period.
“James was always from the beginning interested in interdisciplinary things,” Robert Freeman, former director of the Eastman School of Music, who advised Winn when he was a student at Princeton, said in a telephone interview. “He believed that the academic world tends to isolate itself into a bunch of silos.”
Winn himself was certainly not a silo-dweller; when he wasn’t teaching English or writing about the Restoration, he was performing with orchestras or small ensembles, or working on a recording.
Winn’s marriage to Kathe Fox ended in divorce in 1994. In addition to his son, he is survived by another child from that marriage, Ellen Winn; by his wife, Lucy Chapman, whom he married in 2009; and by four grandchildren.