The Future of Music Studies

Wed 29 Mar 2023, 17:00 - 18:15

Wheelchair accessible venue
People at a concert, dancing with their hands raised as strobe lights flash above them. One concert goer is filming on their mobile phone.
The Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, University of Leeds School of Music, Cavendish Road, Leeds, LS2 9JT

Event ended

Delivered by the most outstanding academics in the UK and beyond, the British Academy’s flagship Lecture Programme showcases the very best scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.

This lecture forms part of the Aspects of Art series.

In recent years, teachers of music studies in Westernised institutions of higher learning have faced significant challenges as debates grow about how deeply their methods are rooted in colonial, settler colonial, national, and imperial practices, and how necessary it is to create more equitable and socially just classrooms. Departments are increasingly considering whether students should have to read scores, learn music theory, or gain proficiency in multiple languages—traditional parts of the curriculum that are now being called into question. Many speak of a “global turn,” hoping at long last to move beyond music history’s national framework by imagining music in the world. Some are even considering that this may be the “end” of musicology as we know it.

In this lecture, Professor Tamara Levitz will interpret the current state of affairs, drawing on her experience over many years of conducting archival research on the history of the music subdisciplines. She will try to get to the bottom of the most urgent and divisive recent debates—whether on teaching skills, global musicology, or identarian politics—and suggest what is motivating them. After clarifying the historical context and what is at stake, she will offer thoughts and suggestions on the future of music studies.

Speaker: Professor Tamara Levitz, Professor for Comparative Literature and Musicology, UCLA

Tamara Levitz is Professor of Musicology and Comparative Literature in the Department of Comparative Literature at UCLA. The focus of her work is on literary and musical modernisms, and the history of the music disciplines.

In 2012, Levitz completed the monograph Modernist Mysteries: Perséphone, in which she presented a micro-historical analysis of the 1934 premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s and André Gide’s melodrama Perséphone. Modernist Mysteries earned Levitz the 2013 Otto Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society, which recognises the most distinguished book in musicology published during the previous year and is musicology’s highest distinction.

For the past decade, Levitz has researched structures of white supremacy and racial exclusion in the formation of the music disciplines in the United States. This has led her to her current work on a series of articles on “Settler Colonial Humanists and the Racial Foundations of Comparison,” in which she critically compares comparative musicology and comparative literature. The first article in this series is on Zora Neale Hurston. Most recently, she gave the Arthur Danto Memorial Lecture at the American Society of Aesthetics, speaking on Paul C. Taylor’s concept of Black Reconstruction.

Free, booking required

Registration for this event will open shortly.

This event will take place in person at the University of Leeds School of Music.

If you have any questions about this event, please email [email protected]

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