“Music is the noisiest, most ungainly, least articulate branch of the humanities, and I thoroughly enjoy being a humanist in that vein.”
My research focuses on the intellectual, aesthetic, and political history of medieval music, and on the intersections between musical texts, oral culture, and political life in the late-medieval Mediterranean.
At Princeton, I teach courses on the history of musical notation; musical paleography and the semiotics of musical writing; liturgical chant; music and memory; and medieval song. Approaching historical and theoretical questions through musical performance and practice is a method of thinking and teaching that I especially enjoy.
My current book project, titled Music, Representation, and Forms of Empire in Late-Medieval Venice theorizes the relationship between dramatic and political forms of representation in Venice’s late-medieval empire in the eastern Mediterranean. The book claims that the political, economic, and social problems that Venetians of the period faced were, at core, problems of aesthetics. Music, and art more generally, shouldered a heavy burden to make sense of a world laden with paradox and change, in which the individual was shaped and controlled by forces beyond his or her horizon of knowledge. Many of the aesthetic functions with which music is commonly attributed in this period belonged not to any philosophy of art, but to the lexicon and forms of political life and of empire in the later Middle Ages. Recovering this aesthetics from the musical and material culture of the period, and from legal, liturgical, and literary texts, the book engages enduring questions about music’s relationship to social and symbolic forms, language, religion, and the natural world, and argues for the ways in which music can be both a metaphor for and constitutive of political life.
I am associated faculty at the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, and am director of the Princeton Facsimile Singers. Before coming to Princeton, I taught at Stanford University as a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities.
B.A. Dickinson College; M.A. Princeton University; Ph.D. Princeton University
Fellowships and grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
American Council of Learned Societies
Fulbright Foundation in Greece
Medieval Academy of America
Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation