Masterclass Prof. Rebekah Ahrendt (Yale University)

Transposed Lives: Music, Migration, and Mobility

Date: 21-22 January 2016
Time: 21 January, 16.15-19.00hrs; 22 January, 9.00-13.00hrs.
Venue: Utrecht University (21 January: Kromme Nieuwegracht 80, Stijlkamer; 22 January, Janskerkhof 15A, 2.01)
Credits: 2 ECTS
Open to: Research MA students in Musicology and in the Humanities
Fee (non-members): € 50,00
Coordinated by: Prof. Karl Kügle (UU)

Music has always traveled. Whether in the bodies of musicians, as notes on paper, or as sound files, music’s mobility has both reflected and enabled the mobility of humans themselves. Yet, accounting for the migrancy of music presents special challenges. This is especially true in historical studies, which often turn on the availability of material records. While the origins (roots) and destinations of travel are a frequent topic of study in histories of music, the actual routes are often overlooked. How can a consideration of the roads traveled, the people met along the way, the possibility of there being no final destination, alter our conceptions of musical labor or stylistic change?

Historical musicology stands poised to contribute centrally to studies of cultural mobility, particularly given the ways that performances by displaced musicians become sites of cultural negotiation. By accounting for the processes of migration and studying what changes when music crosses boundaries, the crucible of migratory environments focuses attention on identity formation itself. The last decades have seen an explosion of theorizing of diaspora, migration, and cultural mobility–Stephen Greenblatt’s “Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto” (2010) is but one noteworthy call to arms–but while such studies provide intellectual cohesion in other fields, musicology seems to lag behind. Especially urgent, as isolated musical studies multiply, is a pointed consideration of the theoretical directions that might prove most fruitful for our discipline. Other fields, like anthropology or sociology, have provided models, but music presents a special or otherwise case, requiring adaptation, if not a new model altogether.

While Ahrendt’s lecture proposes that transposition can provide a productive model for theorizing mobility, the masterclass will explore other models as well.

Rebekah Ahrendt (PhD University of California at Berkeley, 2011) is Assistant Professor in the Yale University Department of Music. Her work on music, migration, and identification at the turn of the eighteenth century has been internationally recognized, most recently by a Visiting Scholarship at St John’s College, Oxford (2015). She is a former Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities at Tufts University, and in 2014 she was a Scaliger Fellow at Leiden University. Much of Ahrendt’s recent work has focused on the interactions between music and international relations. She is the co-editor of Music and Diplomacy from the Early Modern Era to the Present (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), which drew in part on the Utrecht Early Music Festival symposium she organized in 2013, “Negotiating Music.” Her current monograph project, The Republic of Music, illuminates the musical networks maintained by the refugees, exiles, and migrants who traversed the landscape of the Dutch Republic. A graduate of the Royal Conservatory, The Hague, Ahrendt continues to perform and record on the viola da gamba.

This event is organised by the Huizinga Institute in cooperation with Research Group Musicology, Utrecht University, and Centre for Humanities, Utrecht University.


This master class will consist of a lecture and a seminar on the same topic held by Rebekah Ahrendt. The lecture outlines the stakes of mobility, whether of persons or of music, by examining the career of Charles Babel, a major performer and copyist at the turn of the eighteenth century. The lecture, and in turn the masterclass, departs from the following standpoint: While the origins (roots) and destinations of travel are a frequent topic of study in histories of music, what is often overlooked are the actual routes. How can a consideration of the roads traveled, the people met along the way, the possibility of there being no final destination alter our conceptions of musical labor or stylistic change? Part of the work in this seminar will thus be studying the practicalities and motivations of actual travel. How did music, instruments, and people get around? What motivated travel? What modes of transportation and communication were available? What sort of paperwork was necessary? Participants will also consider whether mobility-as-concept can serve as a metaphor for musical performance and composition.

Preparation and readings

To stimulate discussion, participants will read the following (in order) and prepare a short paper to present in class (instructions below).


Two positions on mobility

  • Clifford, James. Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1997): Prologue.
  • Greenblatt, Stephen, ed. Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010): 1-23 and 250-53.

Early modern mobilities

  • Groebner, Valentin. Who Are You? Identification, Deception, and Surveillance in Early Modern Europe, translated by Mark Kyburz and John Peck (New York: Zone Books, 2007): Preface and Chapter 1.
  • Blanning, T. C. W. The Pursuit of Glory: Europe, 1648-1815 (London: Allen Lane, 2007; other editions available). Chapter 1, “Communications.”
  • Agnew, Vanessa. “Hearing Things: Music and Sounds the Traveller Heard and Didn’t Hear on the Grand Tour.” Cultural Studies Review 18, no. 3 (2012): 67-84.
  • Ahrendt, Rebekah. “Armide, the Huguenots, and The Hague.” Opera Quarterly 28 (2012): 131-158.

Postmodern reflections

  • Levitz, Tamara. “Introduction.” Colloquy: Musicology Beyond Borders? Journal of the American Musicological Society 65 (2012): 821-25.


You will prepare a short essay (max. 1000 words) and an informal presentation to share with the group.
To begin, briefly summarize the positions of Clifford and Greenblatt. What perspectives do you find useful? What might you question? Next, consider the special contingencies presented by studying past mobilities, as discussed by Groebner, Blanning, Agnew, and Ahrendt. What sorts of materials are available? What are the major differences (if any) between past and present migrations? How can we account for the distance of time as well as place? Finally, read Levitz’s position piece, which offers one perspective on how music scholars today ought to be conscious of movement.

Synthesize your reactions and thoughts into a brief, well-written piece of prose. Feel free to speak from your own perspective and to issue questions and challenges that we can discuss as a group. Most importantly: relate these broader questions of migration, mobility, travel, etc. to your own work. How might such considerations shape your future work, or how have they shaped your past? You may choose to focus your ideas on a piece of music from your own repertory. Be prepared to share your thoughts with the group in an informal presentation of c. 5 minutes.

The written part of the assignment has to be submitted to on or before the deadline of 21 January 2016, 9 am.

All assignments will be graded and receive 2 EC. Students wishing to audit the master class (1 EC) are expected to attend both sessions in full, do all preparatory readings, and participate actively in discussion but will not be called upon to submit written work or give a presentation.

Masterclass – Darrin McMahon (Dartmouth)

The Return of the History of Ideas?

Date: Tuesday February 3 2015
Time: 10.00 – 12.30
Venue: UB – Belle van Zuylenzaal, Singel 425 Amsterdam
Open to: RMa students and PhD candidates (Huizinga and OPG)
Fee (non-members): € 50,00
Organisers: Annelien de Dijn & Matthijs Lok (UvA)

Darrin McMahon will also give a public lecture on Monday February 2: 15:00-17:00
at the Doelenzaal (UB Universiteit van Amsterdam, Singel 425) 
‘The Return of the History of Ideas?
More information:


Long dismissed as a hopelessly outdated form of inquiry, the “history of ideas” is today making a comeback as a viable form of intellectual history.  What are the promises and the pitfalls of a renewed history of ideas?  In this discussion, Professor McMahon will take up the question both from the standpoint of past criticism and current methodological concerns.

Darrin M. McMahon is a historian, author, and public speaker, who lives in Somerville, Massachusetts and is a Professor of History at Dartmouth College. Formerly McMahon was the Ben Weider Professor of History and Distinguished Research Professor at Florida State University.

Born in Carmel, California, and educated at the University of California, Berkeley and Yale, where he received his PhD in 1998, McMahon is the author of Enemies of the Enlightenment: The French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2001) and Happiness: A History (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006), which has been translated into twelve languages and was awarded Best Books of the Year honors for 2006 by the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Library Journal, and Slate Magazine.

McMahon has just completed a history of the idea of genius and the genius figure, Divine Fury: A History of Genius, published in October of 2013 with Basic Books. He is also the editor, with Ryan Hanley, of The Enlightenment: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies, 5 vols. (Routledge, 2009), and, with Samuel Moyn, of Rethinking Modern European Intellectual History (Oxford University Press, 2014).

McMahon has taught as a visiting scholar at Columbia University, New York University, Yale University, the University of Rouen, the École Normale Supérieur, and the University of Potsdam. His writings have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

Preparation and reading
  • David Armitage (2012): What’s the Big Idea? Intellectual History and the Longue Durée , History of European Ideas, 38:4, 493-507.
  • Darrin McMahon, ‘The return of the history of ideas?’ in: Darrin M. McMahon, Samuel Moyn (red.),  Rethinking Modern European Intellectual History (2014), 13-31.

Participants are required to prepare a few (at least one) questions for Professor McMahon regarding his paper, preferably relating to your own research. In addition, participants are requested to prepare a short statement (max. 500 words) on their research interests. Please email questions and short research statement by Wednesday January 28 2015 to:

Masterclass – prof. Richard Bourke (Queen Mary, University of London)

Political Thought in the British Enlightenment

Date: 8 November 2013
Time: 10:00 – 13:00 hrs
Venue: Bungehuis 101, University of Amsterdam
Open to: PhD candidates and Research Master students
Fee (non-members): €50
Credits: 1 ECTS (available upon request)
Coordination: Jan Rotmans & Monika Baar (Huizinga Institute)
Registration: Maximum participants in the masterclass: 12 | Register before: 15 October 2013
Registration PhD candidates
Registration RMa students

This class will be dedicated to the political ideas of three prominent thinkers of the eighteenth century, focusing in particular on their ideas of human nature, the foundations of government, the project of empire, and the role of commerce in modern political life. The discussion will situate their work in the context of the struggle for power in Europe, the overseas expansion of trade and territory from the 1740s on, and modern political revolutions, including 1688, 1776 and 1789. Specific topics to be examined will be the nature of justice, the normative foundations of political subjection, the nature of revolution, and the relationship between power and commerce in the political economy of America, Europe and Asia in the mid- to late-eighteenth century. Texts to be examined will include: David Hume, Essays Moral, Political and Literary, Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Edmund Burke, Speech on fox’s India Bill and Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France.

The masterclass is offered in combination with prof. Bourke’s keynote lecture Enlightenment and the British Conquest of India: The Case of Edmund Burke on the same day. Attendance at this lecture is required.

Richard Bourke specialises in the history of political thought and intellectual history, focusing on enlightenment political ideas, having also published in literary and political history. He studied at Dublin, London, Oxford and Cambridge, and then taught at University College Dublin before moving to Queen Mary. He has been a Fellow of the John Carter Brown Library (2004), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2006–07), the Clark Memorial Library (2009), the Beinecke (2010) and the Huntington (2011). He recently co-edited Political Judgement (2009) with Raymond Geuss, and is completing Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke for Princeton University Press. He is a co-editor for the Cambridge University Press series Ideas in Context, and co-director of the Popular Sovereignty Network under the auspices of the Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought. He has commented on current affairs for BBC television, the BBC World Service, the Financial Times and The Irish Times, and reviews regularly for Political Quarterly and the Times Literary Supplement.

Find information on reading and assignments below.

Schedule masterclass:

09:45    doors open, coffee & tea
10:00    start  masterclass
11:15    coffee & tea break
13:00    end masterclass & lunch

Keynote lecture prof. Richard Bourke:
Enlightenment and the British Conquest of India:
The Case of Edmund Burke

Date: 8 November 2013
Time: 16:00 – 18:00
Venue: Nina van Leerzaal, UB Bijzondere Collecties
Open to: all; required for PhD candidates and ReMa students participating in the masterclass

Abstract will follow soon.

Schedule keynote lecture:

15:45    doors open
16:00    lecture prof. Bourke
17:15    drinks in the Museum café of the Special Collections

Preparation & readings

Required reading:

Bourke, Richard. ‘Popular Sovereignty and Political Representation: Edmund Burke in the Context of Eighteenth-Century Thought.’ In: Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective, eds. Richard Bourke and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2015].

Suggested primary reading:

David Hume, ‘Of the First Principles of Government’, ‘Of the Origins of Government’, ‘Of the Original Contract’ and ‘Of Passive Obedience’ in Essays Moral, Political, and Literary ed. Eugene F. Miller (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1985).

Adam Smith, The Theory of Modern Sentiments, ed. D. D. Raphael et al. (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982), I, iii, 2: ‘Of the Origin of Ambition, and the Distinction of Ranks’, pp. 50–61.

Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. R. H. Campbell et al., (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981), 2 vols., II, pp. 556–90, 634–41, 731–58.

Edmund Burke, Speech on Fox’s India Bill in P. J. Marshall ed., Edmund Burke: Writings and Speeches, V, pp. 378–451.

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, ed. J. C. D. Clark (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001), pp. 145––243.

Preparation – for all participants:

Prepare a description of half a page of your own research-project, focusing on how it relates to prof. Bourke’s work and specifically to the theme of the masterclass and the political texts that will be discussed. Furthermore, formulate one question for prof. Bourke pertaining to these themes. Submit via; deadline 30 October 2013, 13:00 hrs.

Please bring this description with you to the masterclass; you will be asked to introduce your research and discuss the question you have formulated for prof. Bourke. Max 4 mins.

Additional requirements for ReMa students:

To obtain the 1 ECTS credit, research master students are required to familiarise themselves with the suggested reading; attend prof. Bourke’s keynote lecture that afternoon; and write a 2 page account afterwards, focussing upon the insights gained during the masterclass and lecture and how these relate to one’s own research project. This brief essay will be written according to general academic standards and will be reviewed by prof. Monika Baar (RUG). Submit via; deadline 15 November 2013, 17:00 hrs.

Credits & certificate

Certificates of participation and credits are available upon request after the event. Event coordinators will decide whether the participant has fulfilled all requirements for the ECTS. Please direct your request to and include the postal address you want the certificate send to. Note: the certificate itself is not valid as ECTS, you need to validate it yourself at your local Graduate School.