Seth Brodsky


Associate Professor of Music and the Humanities in the College; Interim Director, Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry; Affiliated Faculty, Department of Visual Arts and Germanic Studies


B.A. Wake Forest 1997; Ph.D. Eastman 2007


Office: GoH 405
Phone: (773) 702-5909

Areas of Specialization:

20th- and 21st-century music; modernisms; influence and intertextuality; music and philosophy; critical theory; psychoanalysis; voice

My scholarly and critical work pursues a number of related lines of inquiry. The first concerns music of the 20th and 21st centuries, in particular the field of “composerly production,” with all the openness this connotes: how is “the composer” constructed, and how does she function culturally, discursively, technologically, mythically? A second line of inquiry involves the role of unconscious processes, particularly as figured in psychoanalytic discourse, in the making and experiencing of music. Here I’m especially interested in musical influence and intertextuality—what Lacan calls the “locus of the other”—in the work of living, recently deceased, or frequently resurrected composers. How, for instance, do contemporary composers fantasize and shepherd their affiliations with their musical past and precursors, and what role does the psychoanalytic unconscious play in these fantasies? 

My current projects revolve around the notoriously slippery concept of repetition. In particular, I’m interested in thinking about aesthetic modernism less as a proverbial “search for the new” then as a larger project in resisting or “breaking” repetition, whether it be the repetition of forms, laws, and languages, of genres and styles, or of themes, patterns, motives, etc. What ramifications does this resistance have for music as a repetitive practice—as a way of practicing repetition, but also of performing its very possibility?


Selected Articles: