Dr Sean Curran, Trinity




Biographical Information

I am Trinity Associate Professor of Music and English and a Fellow of Trinity College, where I arrived in 2014 as a Title A (Junior Research) Fellow, before joining the College’s teaching staff in 2020. Prior to arriving in Cambridge, I was Assistant Specialist in Music and Manuscript Studies at the University of California Berkeley from 2013–2014, where I also took the PhD in the History and Literature of Music in 2013.

Research Interests

I am a scholar of music and literature, and of their histories, theories, material supports, and social practices. My publications and current research interests address an array of topics from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries, with an emphasis on songs, texts, books, and liturgies from Britain and France. A particular fascination that presses its way into all of my work is how styles — in music, literature, handwriting, social habit — exist in and are transmitted through time. I am especially fascinated by the ways in which developments in one artistic medium are so often expressed in collaborations that channel creative energies analytically upon the resources of another. Examples might include songs that speak about writing; texts that record and query musical force; pictures that demand to be read like musical scores, and so on — all to metacritical purposes that our own scholarly analyses can (with all due care) reveal and critique in their turn.

Following from this multidisciplinary conception of artistic practice, each of my publications seeks to combine methods that more commonly proceed in separation. A good example is my ‘Hockets Broken and Integrated in Early Mensural Theory and an Early Motet’, Early Music History, 36 (2017): 31–104 — a study in the history of music theory, revealing deep conversations between theory texts and traditions of Latin rhetorical teaching, and a study in the combination of musical analysis and literary criticism, offering new ways to listen to the articulate metacritical things medieval songs have to say about the experience of musical and poetic form in time. The article was awarded both of the highest prizes in musicology for an article by a junior scholar: the Jerome Roche Award of the Royal Musical Association, and the Alfred Einstein Award of the American Musicological Society.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

I would be glad to supervise in any areas of medieval literature in its intersections with other arts, and on issues in the interface of literature and music in more recent historical areas too.