Past Event

Song and Conversion in Medieval Europe

February 27, 2024
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
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East Gallery, Maison Française, Buell Hall

A Talk by Mary Channen Caldwell

What does it mean to convert from one religion to another? What about from one language to another? Or from one cultural context to another? In this talk Mary Caldwell explores the concept of conversion literally and metaphorically through the lens of French, Hebrew, and Latin song in medieval Europe. Framing conversion as an ongoing, reversible, and retraceable process, she discusses songs reflecting the conversion experience from Judaism to Christianity; songs that are themselves converted from secular French Christian cultural spheres to a Jewish devotional ones through contrafacture; and songs employing the sonic language of Christian chant to express devotional Hebrew texts, penned by a convert from Christianity to Judaism.  

Mary Channen Caldwell is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Devotional Refrains in Medieval Latin Song.  Her research focuses on music in Europe between 1000 and 1600 AD and engages with the complementary disciplines of historical musicology and medieval studies.