Professor of Musicology
Coordinator of Musicology
Rachel May Golden (PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) is Professor of musicology in the School of Music at the University of Tennessee, where she heads the musicology area. She was inaugural chair of the interdisciplinary program in Women, Gender, and Sexuality and is a former co-chair of the Medieval and Renaissance interdisciplinary program. She is also affiliate faculty in Religious Studies.
Her research embraces experiential and cultural aspects of medieval music of the 12th century, including issues of monastic devotion, the cult of the Virgin Mary, songs of the Crusades, gendered expression, and words-music relationships. She also works in contemporary music, where her research addresses opera, oratorio, and film; intersections among music, drama, and text; multimedia and technology; gender, identity, and performativity. Her teaching reflects her expertise in these areas.
Her monograph Mapping Medieval Identities in Occitanian Crusade Song (Oxford University Press, 2020) demonstrates the profound impact that the Crusades had on two seemingly discrete musical-poetic practices: the Latin, sacred Aquitanian versus, associated with Christian devotion, and the vernacular troubadour lyric, associated with courtly love. The book investigates how such Crusade songs distinctively arose out of their geographic environment, and uncovers intersections between the beginning of Holy War and the emergence of new styles of poetic-musical composition. Golden here brings together sacred and secular genres of the region to reveal the inventiveness of new composition and the imaginative scope of the Crusades within medieval culture. These songs reflect both the outer world and interior lives, and often their conjunction, giving shape and expression to concerns with the Occitanian homeland, spatial aspects of the Crusades, and newly emerging positions within socio-political history.
With Katherine Kong, Golden co-edited an interdisciplinary collected volume entitled Gender and Voice in Medieval French Literature and Song, published by University Press of Florida in 2021. Her work also appears in The Journal of Musicology, Music & Letters, Musical Quarterly, Opera Quarterly, and Manuscripts and Medieval Song: Inscription, Performance, Context (ed. Helen Deeming and Elizabeth Eva Leech; Cambridge University Press, 2015), among others. She has been an American Council of Learned of Societies Fellow and an NEH Summer Scholar.
- Ph.D. in Musicology – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2000)
- M.F.A. in Musicology – Brandeis University (1996)
- B.A. in Mathematics – Cornell University (1992)
- Mapping Medieval Identities in Occitanian Crusade Song. Oxford University Press, 2020.
- Gender and Voice in Medieval French Literature and Song, co-edited by Rachel May Golden and Katherine Kong. University Press of Florida, Fall 2021. https://upf.com/book.asp?id=9780813069036
- This volume interprets the voices of medieval French and Occitan literature, lyric, and song as articulations of gendered identities. As medieval texts were often voiced—that is, either read or sung aloud—voice is a central rubric for understanding the performance, transmission, and reception of textual and musical work across varied genres. Voice also functions on a diegetic and symbolic level: as an instrument for asserting authority and agency, voice profoundly inscribes texts with meaning and signification, articulating subjective positions, facilitating dialogue, and enacting silence. This collection reads and listens to selected medieval French texts and musical works, and includes literary, musical, and historiographical analysis for an interdisciplinary readership. Construing gender broadly, our essays include feminist readings, investigations of masculinity, queer theory, and intersectional approaches.
Articles and Essays
- “Beyond this Mist: Uncovering Material Multiplicities in Amis, amis,” in Female-Voice Song in the Middle Ages, edited by Anna Kathryn Grau and Lisa Colton, Companions to the Musical Culture of Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming 2021).
- "Across Divides: Aquitaine's New Song & London BL, Add. 36881," Chapter 3 of Manuscripts and Medieval Song: Inscription, Performance, Context, edited by Helen Deeming and Elizabeth Eva Leach (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
- "Polyphonies of Sound and Space: Motet, Montage, Voices of Light, and La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc." Musical Quarterly 9, no. 2 (Summer 2013): 296-330.
- "Chanson, French/Troubadour." In New Catholic Encyclopedia, Supplement 2011, ed. Robert Fastiggi, et. al., 164–167. Cengage Learning & The Catholic University of America Press, 2011.
- "Music and Pilgrimage." In Encyclopedia of Medieval Pilgrimage, ed. Larissa Taylor, et. al., 463–468. Leiden: Brill, 2009.
- "Two Paths to Daniel's Mountain: Poetic-Musical Unity in Aquitanian Versus." Journal of Musicology 23, no. 4 (Fall 2006): 620–646.
- "Striking Ornaments: Complexities of Sense and Song in Aquitanian Versus." Music & Letters 84, no. 4 (November 2003): 527–556.
- "'As Were We Born Today': Characterization and Transformation in Samuel Barber's Vanessa." Opera Quarterly 17, no. 2 (Spring 2001): 235–249.