Participant Info

First Name
Mary Channen
Last Name
University of Pennsylvania
Website URL
music, musicology, medieval musicology, song, refrain, repetition, lyric, devotional music, liturgical music, ritual, dance, dance studies, hagiography
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Mary Channen Caldwell’s research on repertoires of European vocal music ca. 1100-1600 engages with the complementary disciplines of historical musicology and medieval studies and is driven by interests in the cultural, ritual, textual, and material aspects of music and its production, reception, and transmission. Across her research and teaching, Caldwell employs methodologies that recognize the importance of notes on the page (incomplete as they are in pre-modern sources) while seeing these abstract reflections of music as part of complex systems of cultural meaning and history. While music is always at the core, her writing and teaching connect with a range of interrelated disciplines, including manuscript studies, ritual studies, literary theory, theology and exegesis, liturgiology and hagiography, and theories of time and temporality. She also continues to cultivate a secondary research area in premodern movement and dance studies. Publications on a range of topics related to these interests appear and are forthcoming in Early Music History, Plainsong & Medieval Music, Music & Letters, the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, the Journal of the American Musicological Society, the Journal of Musicology, and the Revue de musicologie, as well as in edited volumes, including one published by the Medieval Institute’s Early Drama, Art, and Music Monograph Series.

In Caldwell’s current book project, she offers a critical approach to the Latin refrain—a repeated segment of text and music—and its conjoined songs, bringing renewed attention to an understudied corpus of over 400 Latin vocal works from the high and late Middle Ages. In this book, Caldwell explores for the first time the Latin refrain as a vibrant and multidimensional part of the varied landscape of medieval song, arguing for the importance of Latin song traditions within the devotional as well as quotidian lives of clerical, monastic, and educational communities across Europe. While previous scholarship on medieval Latin song has tended to elide the refrain in the interest of reportorial and music-theoretical approaches, Caldwell prioritizes in this forthcoming book the return of text and music as an epicenter and generator of lyrical, melodic, and cultural meaning. Her second book project will focus on music for and about a contested figure in medieval popular devotional, St. Nicholas.

Recent Publications

Journal Articles

“‘I Have Trodden the Winepress Alone’: The Voice of Christ and the Mystical Winepress in a Thirteenth-Century Latin Song.” Revue de musicologie 108, no. 1 (2022): forthcoming.

“Conductus, Sequence, Refrain: Composing Latin Song across Language and Genre in Thirteenth-Century France.” The Journal of Musicology (2022): forthcoming.

“Troping Time: Refrain Interpolation in Sacred Latin Songs, ca. 1140-1854.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 74, no. 1 (2021): 91-156.

“Singing Cato: Poetic Grammar and Moral Citation in Medieval Latin Song, ” Music & Letters (advanced copy published 2021).

“Cueing Refrains in the Medieval Conductus.” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 143, no. 2 (2018): 273-324.

“A Medieval Patchwork Song: Poetry, Prayer and Music in a Thirteenth-Century Conductus.” Plainsong and Medieval Music 25, no. 2 (2016): 139-165. 

“‘Flower of The Lily’: Late-Medieval Religious and Heraldic Symbolism in Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS français 146.” Early Music History 33 (2014): 1-60.

Book Chapters

“Is Medieval Choreomusicology Possible?” In The Routledge Companion to Choreomusicology. Edited by Samuel N. Dorf, Helen Julia Minors, and Simon Morrison. Routledge (forthcoming 2022).

“Texting Vocality: Musical and Material Poetics of the Voice in Medieval Latin Song.” In Ars Antiqua: Music and Culture in Europe, c. 1150-c. 1330, edited by Gregorio Bevilacqua and Thomas Payne. Speculum Musicae vol. 40, 33-70. Turnhout: Brepols, 2020.

“Litanic Songs for the Virgin: Rhetoric, Repetition, and Marian Refrains in Medieval Latin Song.” In The Litany in Arts and Cultures, edited by Witold Sadowski and Francesco Marsciani. Studia Traditionis Theologiae, 143-174. Turnhout: Brepols, 2020.

“‘Pax Gallie’: The Songs of Tours 927.” The Jeu d’Adam: MS Tours 927 and the Provenance of the Play, edited by Christophe Chaguinian. Early Drama, Art, and Music Monograph Series, 87-176. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2017.

Encyclopedia Entries

with Timothy McGee. “Dance.” Oxford Bibliographies in “Medieval Studies.” New York: Oxford University Press (forthcoming 2021). DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195396584-0121

“Musical Hagiography in Western Europe with Reference to the Cult of St Nicholas of Myra,” in “Holy Persons.” Edited by Aaron Hollander and Massimo Rondolino. In Encyclopedia of the Global Middle Ages, Bloomsbury/ARC-Humanities Press, 2021.


Review of Jared C. Hartt, ed. A Critical Companion to Medieval Motets. Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music, vol. 17. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: The Boydell Press, 2018, Renaissance Quarterly 72, no. 3 (2019): 1118-1119.

Review of Catherine A. Bradley and Karen Desmond, eds. The Montpellier Codex: The Final Fascicle: Contents, Contexts, Chronologies.  Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music. Rochester, NY: The Boydell Press, 2018, The Medieval Review (2018).

Review of Margot Fassler, Music in the Medieval West. Series: Western Music in Context: A Norton History, Walter Frisch, ed. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013), College Music Symposium 54 (2014).


Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
British Isles, England, France, Western Europe
Expertise by Chronology
Medieval, Pre-17th century
Expertise by Topic
Book History, Literary History, Material Culture, Religion