Working Group on the Medieval Cantor-Chronicler

Location: ND London Centre

Much has been written by musicologists about medieval musicians or liturgists who held the title of cantor (or acted in that role). Likewise, historians have studied the careers of many of these very same individuals from the perspective of their contributions as writers of historical chronicles. Too rarely does the total work of such figures receive attention.

Examples of the many individuals whose lives and work cross the border between cantor/liturgist and chronicler/historian include: Paul the Deacon (d. c.799); Notker Balbulus of St. Gall (d. 912); Regino of Prüm; Adhémar of Chabannes (d. c.1025); Helgaud of Fleury (d. c.1048); Berno of Reichenau (d. 1048); Hermann of Reichenau (d. 1054); Osbern of Canterbury (c. 1090); Symeon of Durham (d. after 1129); William of Malmesbury (d. c.1143); Bernard Itier (d. c.1225); Michel Pintoin (d. c.1425); and Thomas Walsingham (d. c.1420), among numerous others.

What does it mean for music, the composition of works, and for theoretical understandings, or for various kinds of liturgical endeavors, when the musician/liturgist in question is also a chronicler or historian? And what does it mean for the writing of history and of chronicles when the compiler of such works is himself a musician, an author of saints’ lives and music for the saints, or a composer or theorist?

The Working Group on the Medieval Cantor-Chronicler will take up these questions in a comprehensive approach that combines the talents of musicologists and historians. Led by Notre Dame professor Margot Fassler (Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy), a team of North American and British scholars will meet in London for several days of discussion (Oct. 20-23, 2013)  in which they will share the results of their current research and writing. The workshop participants will organize themselves into teams working on individual chapters of a proposed book on the subject of cantor-historians, and continue their collaborative writing over subsequent months, with a publication goal of August 2015.

Questions about the workshop may be addressed to Prof. Fassler.

The Workshop is sponsored by the Medieval Institute and made possible through generous support from Robert M. Conway (University Trustee) and the University of Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters.

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