British Academy Lecture: The Future of Music Studies

Wednesday 29 March 2023
5:00pm - 6:15pm
Clothworkers' Centenary Concert Hall
Lectures and seminars
General public

The prestigious British Academy Lecture at Leeds will be delivered in 2023 by Professor Tamara Levitz (UCLA), who will explore possible future directions in music studies.

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 British Academy's Aspects of Art series.

Lecture synopsis

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 sub-disciplines.

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.

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.