Susan Rankin is a professor of medieval music at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Emmanuel College. Her research interests lie in two directions: on the one hand, the manuscript transmission and forms of writing of music in the early middle ages and, on the other hand, ritual expressed in music throughout the middle ages. Her most recent publication is Writing Sound in Carolingian Europe: The Invention of Musical Notation (Cambridge University Press, 2018). Rankin is currently finishing a second “Carolingian” book, considering the manuscripts in which musical repertories were recorded between 750 and 900.
For the fellowship at Radcliffe, her work switches back to ritual, returning to her earliest research passion: medieval drama and those ways in which music can act as a dynamic force to articulate dramatic situations. Rankin will work with Margot Fassler toward a book in which dramatic modes of action in and alongside the medieval liturgy—from dramatic liturgy of the 9th century to sequences composed in the 15th—will be examined. This work will be organized institutionally rather than by genre and will explore specific examples within the particular circumstances that shaped and refined their natures, such as dramatic ceremonies celebrated in women’s houses.
Rankin was awarded the Dent Medal in 1995, and she is a fellow of the Academia Europaea and the British Academy, a corresponding fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and a corresponding member of the American Musicological Society. She earned a PhD from the University of Cambridge.