I seek a research partner for my second book-length project, “Classic Black,” which departs from current scholarly emphasis on popular music to consider classical black composers, in the US and Britain between 1890 and 1950, who set poetry by African Americans to music. I maintain that these musical collaborations represent a body of textual commentary that broadens the canon of black literary criticism. This project makes particular use of one of the University of Pennsylvania’s archival treasures, the Marian Anderson collections. I emphasize the work of African American and Afro-British women—Georgia Douglas-Johnson, Florence Price, Avril Coleridge-Taylor, Amanda Aldridge, Lilian Evanti, Shirley Graham—whose creative output and roles, as salon-hosts and cultural brokers, sustained the milieus in which better known figures (like Paul Laurence Dunbar, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Paul Robeson, and Roland Hayes) made claim to elite cultural forms, alongside their interest in the vernacular and their radical political commitments.
The research partner should be able to read music (ideally but not necessarily), have reading knowledge of French and/or German, and have familiarity with Sibelius music software. In addition, the student will locate musical scores and biographical information, write short biographical précis, assist in selecting repertoire, and participate in playing through music, if so desired.
The research partner will gain experience in archival research and have an opportunity to cowrite an article or to participate in a future performance or recording of music if appropriate.