Mary Channen Caldwell’s research on music in Europe ca. 1000-1600 engages with the complementary disciplines of historical musicology and medieval studies and is driven by interests in the cultural, ritual, textual, and material aspects of music and its production, reception, and transmission. Across her research and teaching, Caldwell employs methodologies that recognize the importance of notes on the page (incomplete as they are in premodern sources) while seeing these abstract reflections of music as part of complex systems of cultural meaning and history. While music is always at the core, her writing and teaching connect with a range of interrelated disciplines, including manuscript studies, gender studies, literary theory, theology and exegesis, liturgiology and hagiography, and dance and movement studies. Published and forthcoming articles on a range of topics related to these interests appear in Early Music History, Plainsong & Medieval Music, the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, the Journal of the American Musicological Society, the Journal of Musicology, Revue de musicologie, Music & Letters, and Speculum, as well as in edited volumes.
Caldwell’s first book, Devotional Refrains in Medieval Latin Song (Cambridge University Press, 2022), offers a critical approach to the Latin refrain—a repeated segment of text and music—and its conjoined songs, bringing renewed attention to an understudied corpus of over 400 Latin vocal works from the high and late Middle Ages. In this book, Caldwell explores for the first time the Latin refrain as a vibrant and multidimensional part of the varied landscape of medieval song, arguing for the importance of Latin song traditions within the devotional as well as quotidian lives of clerical, monastic, and educational communities across Europe. While previous scholarship on medieval Latin song has tended to elide the refrain in the interest of reportorial and music-theoretical approaches, Caldwell prioritizes the return of text and music as an epicenter and generator of lyrical, melodic, and cultural meaning. Her second and current book project focuses on music for and about a contested figure in medieval popular devotional, St. Nicholas. She is also working on questions of Latin song and gender and dance and sound. Caldwell is currently co-editing with Dr. Anne-Zoé Rillon-Marne a volume titled Latin Song in the Medieval West (Liverpool University Press).
At Penn, Caldwell is the co-director with Mauro Calcagno of a concert series between the Department of Music and Penn Libraries called “Music in the Pavilion” (https://www.library.upenn.edu/page/music-pavilion-series). In 2018, she co-organized an interdisciplinary symposium titled “Gothic Arts” with colleagues in Art History and History, which brought together scholars from within and outside of the United States (http://web.sas.upenn.edu/gothicarts/).
Caldwell received her PhD in Music History and Theory from the University of Chicago in 2013 and a Bachelor of Music degree from the School of Music at Queen’s University (Ontario, Canada) in 2006. Her teaching and research have been supported by the University of Chicago, the American Musicological Society, the John Anson Kittredge Fund, the American Philosophical Society, and the NEH. In 2021, Caldwell was awarded the Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching by an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Caldwell presents regularly at conferences and symposia in Canada, the United States, and Europe, including papers at the national meetings of the American Musicological Society and the Medieval Academy of America.
Gender, Sexuality, and Early Music: 20 Years Later
Music and Sounds of Difference in the Global Middle Ages
Singing in Many Tongues: Multilinguality in Medieval Song, Lyric, and Drama
Singing Saints and Singing of Saints: Musical Hagiographies, ca. 900-1600
Gothic Notes: Music, Manuscripts, and Notation in the 13th Century
Sonus—Vox: Medieval Perspectives on Sound and the Voice
Festivity, Devotion, and Seasonality in Premodern Vocal Music
Performers: Musicians and Dancers
Recording the Middle Ages: The Reception of Medieval Music from LPs to Mp3s
Hearing (in) the Middle Ages
Sounding the Middle Ages
Writing Sound: Signs and Symbols of Music in Pre- and Early Modern Europe
Anonymous: History’s Most Prolific Composer
Introduction to European Art Music
1000 Years of Listening
Devotional Refrains in Medieval Latin Song. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022.
Saintly Song: Musical Hagiography and the Medieval Cult of St. Nicholas (in progress)
Latin Song in the Medieval World: Creation, Circulation, and Performance, co-edited with Anne-Zoé Rillon-Marne under contract with Liverpool University Press).
Articles (forthcoming and published)
“Dancing in Silence in Premodern Europe.” postmedieval, special issue on Legacies of Medieval Dance edited by Kathryn Dickason (forthcoming).
“‘To His Beloved Friends…’: The Epistolary Art of Song in Medieval France.” Textus & Musica, special issue edited by Océane Boudeau, Luca Gatti, and Fañch Thoraval (forthcoming).
“Multilingualism, Nova Cantica, and the Cult of St. Nicholas in Medieval England and France.” Speculum (accepted with minor revisions May 2022).
“Against the Dangers of the Night: The Compline Versicle Custodi nos domine and its Tropes in Medieval France.” Journal of the Alamire Foundation (forthcoming, 2022).
“‘I have trodden the winepress alone’: The Voice of Christ and the Mystic Winepress in a Thirteenth-Century Conductus.” Revue de musicologie 108, no. 1 (2022): 3-40.
“Conductus, Sequence, Refrain: Composing Latin Song across Language and Genre in Thirteenth-Century France.” The Journal of Musicology 39, no. 2 (2022): 133-178.
“Singing Cato: Poetic Grammar and Moral Citation in Medieval Latin Song,” Music & Letters 102, no. 2 (2021): 191–233.
“Troping Time: Refrain Interpolation in Sacred Latin Songs, ca. 1140-1853.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 74 no. 1 (2021): 91-156.
“Cueing Refrains in the Medieval Conductus.” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 143, no. 2 (2018): 273-324.
“A Medieval Patchwork Song: Poetry, Prayer and Music in a Thirteenth-Century Conductus.” Plainsong and Medieval Music 25, no. 2 (2016): 139-165.
“‘Flower of The Lily’: Late-Medieval Religious and Heraldic Symbolism in Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS français 146.” Early Music History 33 (2014): 1-60.
Articles (under review)
“Singing and Learning (in) Latin in Medieval Europe.” Philomusica On-Line (Proceedings of the conference Musica e letteratura al tempo di Dante, October 21-22, 2021).
Book Chapters (published)
“Texting Vocality: Musical and Material Poetics of the Voice in Medieval Latin Song.” In Ars Antiqua: Music and Culture in Europe, c. 1150-c. 1330, edited by Gregorio Bevilacqua and Thomas Payne. Speculum Musicae vol. 40, 35-72. Turnhout: Brepols, 2020.
“Litanic Songs for the Virgin: Rhetoric, Repetition, and Marian Refrains in Medieval Latin Song.” In The Litany in Arts and Cultures, edited by Witold Sadowski and Francesco Marsciani. Studia Traditionis Theologiae, 143-174. Turnhout: Brepols, 2020.
“‘Pax Gallie’: The Songs of Tours 927.” In The Jeu d’Adam: MS Tours 927 and the Provenance of the Play, edited by Christophe Chaguinian, 87-176. Early Drama, Art, and Music Monograph Series. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2017.
Book Chapters (under review)
“Revisiting the ‘Clerical Dance Song’ in Medieval Europe.” Tanz al Musik: Zwischen Klang und Bewegung, edited by Martina Papiro, Christelle Cazaux, and Agnese Pavanello. Basler Beiträge zur Historischen Musikpraxis. Basel: Schwabe.
“Is Medieval Choreomusicology Possible?” In The Routledge Companion to Choreomusicology: Dialogues in Music and Dance. Edited by Samuel N. Dorf, Helen Julia Minors, and Simon Morrison. New York: Routledge.
with Timothy McGee. “Dance.” Oxford Bibliographies in “Medieval Studies.” New York: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195396584-0121
“Musical Hagiography in Western Europe with Reference to the Cult of St Nicholas of Myra,” in “Holy Persons.” Edited by Aaron Hollander and Massimo Rondolino. In Encyclopedia of the Global Middle Ages, Bloomsbury/ARC-Humanities Press, 2021: https://www.bloomsburymedievalstudies.com/encyclopedia-chapter?docid=b-9781350990005&tocid=b-9781350990005-068-0000001&st=