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Music and the Body Between Revolutions: Paris, 1789-1848

General Programming

  • The Center for Science & Society
  • Université Paris 8
  • Institut universitaire de France
  • European Research Council
  • Carmel Raz and Julia Doe, Department of Music, Columbia University
  • Céline Frigau Manning, Department of Theatre, Université Paris 8 - Institut Universitaire de France

The workings of the corporeal and spiritual body were repeatedly reimagined in France between 1789 and 1848, as successive revolutions fundamentally transformed understandings of bodily autonomy and moral responsibility. Discourses in philosophy, aesthetics, and the sciences were strongly affected by these events, as the radical reconfiguration of the institutional landscape from 1789 onwards led to the emergence of Paris as an international center for modern science and medicine in the first half of the nineteenth century. At the same time, Paris also became a crucial locus of activity in the musical sphere, a city of innovative composers, virtuoso performers, and instrument designers as well as a rising culture of musical ‘dilettantes’

Understandings of the body, as shared between the musical and the scientific spheres, will lie at the heart of our exploration. The late eighteenth century saw various conceptions of the body set into flux, influenced by the writings of philosophers such as Rousseau and Diderot. In the domain of the medical sciences, Jean-Nicolas Corvisart and René Laënnec regarded the body as a site from which to develop new understandings of timbre and listening, while Xavier Bichat reinvigorated the Vitalist frameworks of sympathy and harmony in order to examine the relationship between various executive organs of the body. This period also saw the rise of new “moral” approaches toward insanity associated with Philippe Pinel, as well as the phrenological classifications of the Paris-based Franz Joseph Gall. The repercussions of these developments were directly felt in the musical realm, and played out on the operatic stage, in the soundscapes of Revolutionary festivals, and in theoretical, medical, and governmental inquiries into the relationships between music and human behavior.

This interdisciplinary workshop will examine the interaction between music, science, and medicine in Paris, as they were influenced by the reframing of the self in the aftermath of successive revolutionary upheavals. It will bring together scholars from the fields of musicology, performance studies, literature, and the history of science and medicine in order to explore historical and emerging contemporary perspectives on the body. On Saturday we will be holding a workshop for conference participants to discuss draft papers. We encourage interested scholars from Columbia and the New York area to join the conversation. Pre-registration is required (further details to come).


Friday, March 31: Conference

2:00-4:00pm: Nineteenth-Century Music and Science

John Tresch, "La Technaesthetique, or the Kick of the Cosmos"

Mark Pottinger, “Science, Madness, and the Sound of Disease in Donizetti's 'Lucia di Lammermoor' (Paris, 1837)”

David Trippett, “Sound and the Ultrasonic Imagination ca. 1876”

Chair: Lydia Goehr

4:00-4:30: Break

4:30-6:30pm: Bodies Politic

Julia Doe, “On the Well-Being of Queen and Nation: Politics and Pastoral Fantasy at the Petit Trianon”

Rebecca Geoffroy-Schwinden, “Music and the French Body Politic in Festivals of the French Revolution”

Francesca Brittan, “Neology, Fantasy, and the Revolutionary Body Politic”

Chair: Elise Bonner

On Saturday we will be holding a workshop for conference participants to discuss draft papers. We encourage interested scholars from Columbia and the New York area to join the conversation. Pre-registration is required (further details to come).

Saturday, April 1st: Workshop

10-11: Isabelle Moindrot, “Musique et musiciens de la Grande armée. Traces et rémanences culturelles de quelques usages non artistiques de la musique”

Respondent: Annelies Andries

11-12: James Davies, “Creatures of the Air”

Respondent: Michael Weinstein-Reiman

12-12:30: Break

12:30-1:30: Emmanuel Reibel, “La musique comme corps : la métaphore de la dissection dans la critique (1820-1850)”

Respondent: Arden Hegele

1:30-2:30: Break

2:30-3:30: Céline Frigau Manning, “Opera and Hypnosis. Victor Maurel’s Experiments in Suggestion With Verdi’s Otello

Respondent: Jessica Simon

3:30-4: Break

4-5: Carmel Raz, “Operatic Fantasies in Early 19th C. Psychiatry”

Respondent: Jeremy Blatter

  • Carmel Raz Lecturer in Music Columbia University
  • Celine Frigau Manning Associate Professor University of Paris 8 - Institut Universitaire de France
  • Julia Doe Assistant Professor Columbia University
  • Isabelle Moindrot Professor University of Paris 8
  • Francesca Brittan Associate Professor Case Western Reserve University
  • Rebecca Geoffroy-Schwinden Assistant Professor University of North Texas
  • Emmanuel Riebel Professor l'Université Lumière Lyon 2 - Institut Universitaire de France
  • John Tresch Associate Professor, History and Sociology of Science University of Pennsylvania
  • James Q. Davies Associate Professor University of California, Berkeley
  • Mark Pottinger Nina Maria Gorrissen Fellow of History American Academy in Berlin
  • David Trippett Senior University Lecturer University of Cambridge
  • Lydia Goehr Professor of Philosophy Columbia University
  • Michael Weinstein-Reiman PhD Student in Music Theory Columbia University
  • Annelies Andries PhD Candidate in Music History Yale University
  • Elise Bonner Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Columbia University
  • Arden Hegele Lecturer in English Columbia University
  • Jessica Simon PhD Candidate Columbia University
  • Jeremy Blatter Visiting Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication New York University