Class of 1960 Lecture
Professor Suzannah Clark
“Cupid’s Arrow and the Conventions of Song in the Medieval Motet”

Professor Suzannah Clark of Harvard University gives a lecture on Tuesday, April 3 at 4:15 p.m. in Room 30 of Bernhard Music Center on the Williams College campus. This lecture is sponsored by the Class of 1960 Scholars Fund.

Her talk is titled Cupid’s Arrow and the Conventions of Song in the Medieval Motet.

According to mythology, Cupid is the god of desire and erotic love, and he is often depicted wielding an arrow. In the lyric tradition of the troubadours and trouvères, the protagonists of the “canso” or songs of fin’amor were filled with uncontrollable lust for a Lady and a burst of novel musical and poetic creativity once struck by Cupid’s arrow. The sonic world of courtly love in the monophonic chanson is thus brimming with melodic invention. Melodic uniqueness is the conceit of seductive sincerity. This paper explores some of the more playful attempts by poet-composers of the vernacular motet to negotiate the apparent requirement for melodic invention in a genre celebrated for its use of borrowed material and the production of contrafacta.

About Prof. Suzannah Clark
Suzannah Clark is Professor and Chair of the Music Department at Harvard University. Before joining Harvard in 2008, she taught at Oxford University for 8 years. Clark specializes in the music of Franz Schubert, the history of music theory, and medieval vernacular music. Her publications on these topics include her monograph Analyzing Schubert, which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011. She has co-edited two books with Alexander Rehding: Music Theory and Natural Order from the Renaissance to the Early Twentieth Century (2001) and Music in Time: Phenomenology, Perception, Performance (2016), as well as a collection of essays with Elizabeth Eva Leach on Citation and Authority in Medieval and Renaissance Musical Culture: Learning from the Learned (2005). Her research has been supported by numerous fellowships: most recently (2014–2015), she was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and a Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies. During W. Anthony Sheppard’s tenure as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Clark served as Review Editor. During 2015–2017, Clark served as President of the New England Conference of Music Theorists.