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“Singing with the Stars” - Humanities Center 6th Annual Distinguished Lecture Series

Can the songs of the troubadours be understood as “soundscapes”?  Boethius’s Roman writings defined the “music of the spheres” as reflections of cosmic harmony based in abstract cosmological mathematics and as “acousmatic sound”-- sound one hears without seeing an originating cause.  Sarah Kay proposes a way of thinking about song in the Middle Ages that is equally acousmatic but originating from a different materiality based in a different cosmology, one that unites heaven and earth in breath and voice.  If there is today an "acousmatic turn" then it is, if not a return, at least a reinvention in quite different terms of a formerly cosmic sonorousness.

Sarah Kay teaches French and Medieval Studies at NYU.  She has written widely on medieval literature across languages, genres, and periods; her work combines the study of medieval texts with philosophical and theoretical inquiry.  Her two most recent books are Parrots and Nightingales. Troubadour Quotations and the Development of European Poetry (UPenn, 2013) and Animal Skins and the Reading Self in Medieval Latin and French Bestiaries (Chicago, 2017).

This event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 4:00pm to 5:30pm

John C Hodges Library, Lindsay Young Auditorium
1015 Volunteer Blvd, Knoxville TN

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations


Humanities & Social Sciences


Current Students, Faculty & Staff





Humanities Center

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Joan Murray

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