Music Studies Colloquium: Rachel Mundy (Rutgers University, Newark)

Colloquium: Lecture/Colloquium/Master Class: Music Studies Colloquium | February 21 | 4:30 p.m. | 128 Morrison Hall

 Department of Music

"Songs of the Humpback Whale: Faith, Structure, and Listening in the 20th century"

Rachel Mundy is an Assistant Professor of Music in the Arts, Culture, & Media program at Rugters University in Newark. She specializes in twentieth-century sonic culture with interests at the juncture of music, the history of science, and animal studies. Her research shows how music has been used to navigate changing boundaries between race, species, and culture in the twentieth century. Her book Animal Musicalities, under contract with Wesleyan University Press, traces comparisons between human and animal songs from social Darwinism through the postwar rejection of racial science. By exploring song as an object of study, she locates postmodern notions of art and science as the refrain of a century-long encounter with life’s inequalities.

Rachel’s work on songs, science, and life’s inequalities has been published in journals such as the Journal of the American Musicological Society, The Musical Quarterly, and Animals & Society. She is currently working on a comic-book inspired biography of American song collector Laura Boulton that features archival photographs of Laura’s trip to Angola for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in 1930-31. She is also in the early stages of a second monograph titled Hearing Beyond Humanism that traces a generation of women biologists who turned in the 1970s to musical listening in lieu of laboratories as a way of reconfiguring notions of animal intelligence.

Rachel teaches courses at Newark on Western music history, sound in the history of science, sound studies and posthumanism, and world music. Students in her classes will hear orchestras of typewriters and engines, see women petting busts of Beethoven, and compose an ode to Newark out of the city’s sounds. Rachel is also a licensed teacher of the Japanese traditional flute or shakuhachi, which she has played and performed since 2001.