Final Workshop of the Quarter and End-of-Year Celebration: Marcy Pierson!

pierson headshot

Join us next week for our final workshop, Marcy Pierson with respondent George Adams! The pre-circulated reading is available on the downloads page with the password erasure.

We’ll be partying at this last workshop of the year, with a spread catered by Chipotle to accompany our tasty conversation!

Here are the meeting details:
Logan Terrace Seminar Room (801)
Wednesday, June 4
4:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
Marcy writes:
The Voice under Erasure in Darmstadt and beyond

Modernist composers since 1950 or so have evinced a marked disease with melody and thus, I argue, with the voice. The composers in my dissertation exploit the expressive power of the singing voice, but also find it imperative to intervene, to obstruct. I am particularly concerned with those who express ambivalence toward, rather than an outright rejection of, melody and singing: composers who invoke them, but also put them under erasure by distorting them in various ways. This chapter will introduce this project by delineating its scope, elucidating its theoretical foundations, and outlining its methodology.
See you there!
Ana and Chelsea
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A Second Pair of Proposals: Liz Hopkins and Patrick Fitzgibbon

Dear all,

Join us for next week’s workshop, where we’ll discuss proposal materials from Patrick Fitzgibbon and Liz Hopkins! Pre-circulated materials are available here, with the password proposals.


Music, Science, and Science Fiction: The Feeling of Knowing

Liz Hopkinsforbiddenplanet

My project looks at the use of electronic music in science fiction films and nature documentaries from the 1960s and 70s. I am considering ways in which this music was developed to convey emotional, physical, and ideological meaning through connotation and denotation, as well as the underlying philosophies of compositional processes. I argue that these sound tracks become a means of understanding the mass cultural assimilation of and emotional relationship with science, technology, and ways of knowing.




Musical Rule-Breaking, 1450-1800

Patrick Fitzgibbon

Patrick Workshop Image
Rules are the basic stuff of music theory. My project looks at what happens when they get broken. Through a series of case studies on characteristic early-modern texts, I explore musical rules in relation to sites of authority and enforcement; notions of mistake and misconduct; inflections of socioeconomic rank; and processes of discursive activation/sublimation. The main question is: why should a musician, past or present, not only fail to heed rules but also seek to breach them?


The paper I have forwarded for your consideration comes from my prospectus-in-progress. Following several pages surveying my overall topic, the paper sketches in a few of the issues that I view as central to each case study. I would be most grateful for your help identifying any future pitfalls or paths forward that you find especially striking.

The workshop will take place on Wednesday, May 21, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., in the Logan Terrace Seminar Room (801). See you there for food, drink, and delicious discussion!

Ana and Chelsea

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Wednesday, May 7: Daniel Callahan with Respondent Tom Gunning

“In Search of Lost Movement, Movers, and Music”

Wednesday, May 7, 4:30–6:00 PM

Logan Center, Terrace Seminar Room (801)


Daniel Callahan, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Music and the College

Tom Gunning, Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Art History, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, and the College

 Fuller Vortex Beckett

Samuel Joshua Beckett, [Loie Fuller Dancing], ca. 1900.


In the 1890s Loie Fuller, draped in especially long silks, would take center stage in front of darkened halls and spin and manipulate her fabrics under changing lights. Audiences and critics, including Stéphane Mallarmé, loved it. Over a hundred years later, some scholars in different fields—dance studies, comparative literature, art history, philosophy (the dust jacket of Jacques Rancière’s English translation of Aisthesis capitalizes on Fuller’s image), and film studies (most notably my esteemed respondent, Tom Gunning,—have turned their attention to Fuller after decades of relative neglect. Absent in the recent literature on Fuller—as in the vast majority of contemporary accounts —is a consideration of the role music played in her performances. Why is this? For Wednesday’s workshop, I would like us to consider some material from my book manuscript’s first chapter. At the end of the chapter, I introduce Loie Fuller and begin to explore her performances as acts of music visualized, as embodiments of Hanslick’s arabesque, and as key part of the prehistory of early US modern dance and its dependence on music.

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A Pair of Proposals, April 23: Lauren Eldridge and Chaz Lee

Join us next week as we discuss the dissertation proposal materials of Lauren Eldridge and Chaz Lee! In this special session of the workshop, the time will be split between the two documents/presenters, with ample space to discuss each. As always, there will be food and drink to enjoy, along with vibrant discussion!
The documents are available on the download page of the website (see the right sidebar of the page), with the password propose.
NB: The workshop will take place in the room NEXT DOOR to the usual spot, in room 802 of Logan. Same bat time as usual, 4:30–6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23.
Lauren writes:
In music schools throughout Haiti, women perform pedagogy through participation in mizik klasik. This genre encompasses both compositions in the style of Western European art music and traditional Haitian melodies. As composers, teachers, performers, students, and archivists, these women offer a sonic counterpoint to a media narrative that defines Haiti as “the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.” They present Haiti as one of the first contemporary republics, among them the only nation governed in independence by formerly enslaved Africans. They also insist that Haitians are diverse in class position and religious affiliation, but that they share a rich cultural heritage. In this dissertation, I urge a close listening to a group heretofore subsumed in a mythically undifferentiated nation. I call attention to women who perform, teach, and learn mizik klasik, while negotiating a politics of respectability. I argue that they are rewriting mizik klasik by including themselves in its history, a history vital to modern perceptions of Haiti. They perform this pedagogical work through the gift of music.
Chaz writes:
I’m interested in the persistence of attachments to Western classical music in many places around the world. I think that what the category of the “classical” means is still up for grabs, especially as a mass-mediated and transnationally circulating aesthetic that overflows the bounds of a delimited canonic repertory and that can be found, for instance, in the soundtracks of different national cinemas, Korean, American, French, Indian, etc. One of my presuppositions is therefore that the persistence of the classical has not only to do with an attachment to specific musical content but also with the particular affective structure of that attachment. This structure pertains to how certain conventions come to be sensed and experienced as emphatically conventional through the affirmation of a shared space inhabited by subjects united in a common fantasy of being common. The pre-circulated case study is a first stab at giving this cosmopolitan generality a specific shape, to be followed by other close-readings and some fieldwork.
See you there!
Ana and Chelsea
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Michelle Urberg, April 9 2014

This week’s workshop takes us to the life of a medieval monastery in Sweden. PhD candidate Michelle Urberg will present part of her dissertation work on musical literacy in the Vadstena abbey in the fifteenth century.

We hope you can join us! Paper available on the downloads page (see right menu).

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This quarter’s workshops!

Dear all,
Welcome back from spring break! Mark your calendars: this quarter is chock full of fabulous workshops with presentations ranging from proposals to dissertation materials to postdoc research and a guest presenter. As usual, all sessions will take place on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. in the Logan Terrace Seminar Room (801). Join us for delicious food and drink, and fabulous conversation of course!
April 2
Guest Presenter: Daphne Tan, Indiana University
“Ernst Kurth on Form and Erformung

April 9
Michelle Urberg
“Liturgical Accretions, Manuscript Production, and the Female Scribes at Vadstena Abbey”

April 23

May 7
Daniel Callahan, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
“In Search of Lost Movement”

May 21
A Pair of Proposals

June 4
Marcy Pierson
“The Voice under Erasure at Darmstadt and beyond”

See you there!

Ana and Chelsea

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April 2, 2014: Daphne Tan

Ernst Kurth on Form and Erformung


Join us for the first session of the spring quarter this year. Prof. Daphne Tan from Indiana University Bloomington will present on early-twentieth century music theory.

The session will take place in Logan 801, from 4:30 to 6 pm. Prof. Tan’s paper-in-progress can be found on the downloads page (see menu on the right).

Prof. Tan writes:

This paper investigates Ernst Kurth’s ideas about musical form as they are expressed in his final monograph, Musikpsychologie (1931). Under the purview of “form” falls much more than present-day treatments of the subject would suggest. Specifically, Kurth’s notion of Erformung (shaping) provides a crucial perspective from which to view his earlier analyses. Those familiar with Kurth’s prior treatises may recognize his trademark metaphorical concepts. Others may be surprised to discover that he addresses traditional Formenlehren and rhythmic theories head on. In light of the ideas Kurth presents in 1931, this paper looks back at his work in Bruckner (1925)It will also compare Kurth’s perspective with those of two well-known contemporaries: Alfred Lorenz and Hugo Riemann.

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March 12, 2014: Peter Smucker. Sonic Cues in Late Chamber Works of Elliott Carter.

Come chat with PhD candidate Peter Smucker about the chamber music of Elliott Carter. Peter will be presenting ideas from the second chapter of his dissertation.

The pre-circulated text as well as a link to audio examples can be found in the downloads page (menu on the right).

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Februrary 26 – Dörte Schmidt

Indian Summer in Times of War? Richard Strauss’ Last Opera.

Guest speaker from Germany Dörte Schmidt will present some work she is looking to expand. She investigates how Capriccio, Richard Strauss’ last opera can be read in its historical context. Capriccio was premiered in 1942 under the patronage of Joseph Goebbels.

The workshop will take place in Logan 801 from 4:30 to 6 pm, please join us. You can find the pre-circulated text in the downloads page (menu on right).

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Februrary 12: Jonathan Lee, “Ligaments of Love”

Dear members of the MHT Workshop:

We cordially invite you to our next session, featuring postdoctoral fellow Jonathan Lee. The meeting will take place on Feb 12 at 4:30, Logan 801.

The pre-circulated reading is available in our blog with the password Handel. Jonathan has also provided an abstract to get a preview (pasted below).

Please join us!

All best,

Chelsea and Ana.


“The Ligaments of Love”:
Men of Feeling, Religious Sentimentalism, and Joseph and His Brethren

Jonathan Rhodes Lee
Of all Handel’s oratorios, Joseph and His Brethren (1744) is the one most frequently associated with the sentimentalism so popular among mid-eighteenth-century authors and playwrights. The libretto by James Miller bears the marks of contemporary sentimental drama, with its tearful family tableaux and moral precepts issued by the faultless protagonist, a man of feeling who continually weeps, displaying his sensitive, ardent empathy. Scholars have frequently critiqued this sentimental hero, complaining of his “static” characterization (Paula O’Brien) and his “tearful sensibility worthy of [Laurence] Sterne” (Winton Dean). Duncan Chisholm and Ruth Smith have both attempted to soften these critical blows by claiming that beyond this sentimentalism lay a more exciting political symbolism; they see Robert Walpole lurking behind Joseph, the Egyptian “Prime Minister,” and posit that Joseph’s sensitive goodness contrasted with the distinctly unsympathetic portrayal of Walpole during the 1740s. Yet by the time that Joseph premiered, Walpole had been out of office for two years, and even Smith admits that such political readings are “opaque.” I offer an alternative explanation for the roots of the protagonist’s lachrymosity. Miller penned not only plays bitingly satirizing his contemporaries, but also sermons embracing the Latitudinarian viewpoints prevalent among religious writers of his time. Such ministers focused on benevolence and empathy, proclaiming this approach as a new and defining feature of contemporary Anglicanism. Like those of his like-minded contemporaries, Miller’s published sermons (as well as his libretto) advocated an ideal person whose love and empathy culminate in ardent fellow-feeling. R. S. Crane once proposed that the most influential models for the culture of sentiment lay not in secular philosophy, but in such Latitudinarian teachings. This religious outlook was intimately connected to the man of feeling whom Miller proffered as an exemplar for his Handelian audiences. To take seriously the sentimentalism of Joseph reminds us that Handel’s oratorios were not only political allegories, but also works that aimed to touch the private lives of the men and women of feeling for whom (and by whom) they were written.

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