Bonnie Gordon has been appointed as a Robert Lehman Visiting Professor in residence at Villa I Tatti

Bonnie Gordon, associate professor of music in the Critical and Comparative Studies program, has been appointed as a Robert Lehman Visiting Professor in residence at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence from January to June 2017.  Her project is Voice Machines: The Castrato, The Cat Piano and Other Strange Sounds.

At I Tatti she will complete her book Voice Machines: The Castrato, the Cat Piano, and Other Strange Sounds. The book uses the castrato to tell  a story about sound, voice, and technology in an era that often gets cast as pre-technological. Modern scholars often fail to hear earlier techno-cultures because the materials and language through which those materials circulated differ so radically from what we know today. Early modern technologies, for instance, centered not on computers, wires, and sockets but on hydraulics, motion, force, and theatrical illusion.

The book emerges from her interest in the experiences of sound in Early Modern music making. Her first book, Monteverdi's Unruly Women (Cambridge University Press, 2004) frames the composer's madrigals and music dramas written between 1600 and 1640 as windows into contemporary notions of sound, body, voice, and senses. She explored similar issues in articles about contemporary singer-songwriters Kate Bush and Tori Amos. She co-edited with Martha Feldman an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural volume of essays about courtesans entitled The Courtesans Arts, (Oxford University Press, 2006).  Outside of early modern Europe Bonnie Gordon  has published on Thomas Jefferson and the Silencing of Black Sounds; the topic which her third book will explore.  The legacies of this silence led her to co-found UVa’ Arts mentor program; a program that pairs UVa students with under resourced children in Charlottesville for variety of arts experience. Outside of the academy she has published in Slate and the Washington Post and plays rock, jazz, and baroque viola.  Previous fellowships include the American Association for University Women, The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies is devoted to advanced study of the Italian Renaissance in all aspects, including the history of art; political, economic, and social history; the history of science, philosophy and religion; and the history of literature and music. Each semester, two distinguished senior scholars serve as Visiting Professors. Such appointments are made taking into account the synergy of the nominated Fellows in a particular year, their respective projects, and the potential for dynamic interdisciplinary exchange.

For more about the program visit:



McIntire Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176