Two Music Department Faculty Members Selected for Franke Institute Faculty Fellowships

Jessica Baker Headshot
May 16, 2019

We’re thrilled to share the news that two of our Department of Music Faculty members have received Faculty Fellowships from the Franke Institute of Humanities for the 2019-20 academic year. Congratulations to Jessica Swanston Baker and Anna Schultz!

Each year the Franke Institute for the Humanities awards a limited number of Faculty Residential Fellowships to members of the University of Chicago faculty who are engaged in interdisciplinary projects.

Read below to learn more about their fellowship projects.

Jessica Swanston Baker - Too Fast: Music and the Aesthetics of Speed in the Caribbean
During the Franke Fellowship year, Baker will be working on completing a draft of her manuscript. This project is an ethnographic inquiry into the popular music of the Leeward Islands that seeks to shift the geography of inquiry into modernity: from mainland to island, from center to margin, and from European empire to postcolonial island state. Based on ethnographic and archival research in St. Kitts and Nevis, this project explores historical anxieties about things and people that are “too fast,” especially music and young women, within the context of a larger intergenerational discourse that centers preoccupations with speed. This localized focus on who and what is to be feared, condemned, and avoided as “fast” is a countercurrent to the various social accelerations that are hallmarks of global late modernity. Too Fast asks, how does fast modernity play and sound out in the Caribbean archipelago? While the Caribbean has been historically perceived as isolated from the busy, frenetic, always-connected world, Caribbean musicians imagine and sonically emplace themselves at the center of modernity's accelerating thrust.

Anna Schultz – Songs Left Behind: Gender, Migration, and Translation among India’s Bene Israel
This book is about cultural translation in the devotional songs of the Bene Israel, a Marathi-speaking Jewish people from western India who lived without synagogues, clergy, or religious texts until a Danish missionary recognized their Jewish practices in the eighteenth century. Over the past 300 years, Jews from Europe, South India, and the Middle East have been teaching the Bene Israel about rabbinical Judaism, even as the latter were absorbing elements of Christian, Hindu, and Muslim performance. The rich musical culture resulting from these entanglements has been further shaped by two Bene Israel migrations: the first from rural Maharashtra to Bombay, and the second from India to Israel. Songs Left Behind seeks to understand changing relations between the Bene Israel and other social groups in India and Israel, and it outlines a new method for analyzing multilayered translations of text, cultural practice, theology, context, and musical sound. Schultz argues that the sonic elements of Indian Jewish performance have been particularly resistant to translation, paradoxically generating affective attachment to Jewish texts by resonating with other religious practices.

See the full list of incoming Franke Faculty Fellows here