Anne Walters Robertson

Anne Walters Robertson
Claire Dux Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Music and the Humanities in the College
Goodspeed 209
PhD, Yale University, 1984
Teaching at UChicago since 1984

Anne Walters Robertson writes on subjects ranging from the plainchant of the early church to the Latin and vernacular polyphony of the late middle ages. In her work, liturgical and secular music, and often the interactions of the two, mirror theological and courtly ideas and shape the development of medieval spirituality and personal devotion, architecture, institutional identity, and politics. The theme of French royal culture also winds its way through Robertson’s books, which focus on the history of music at the cathedral of Reims, where the kings of France were crowned, and the music and liturgy of the abbey of St-Denis of Paris, where the kings were buried. Her research on fourteenth-century polyphony points to the fundamental roles of local musical dialect in understanding Philippe de Vitry’s life and music, and of mystical theology in illuminating the compositions of Guillaume de Machaut. More recently, she has studied the symbolic and folkloric aspects of the seminal masses and motets of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, as the title of her article, “The Savior, the Woman, and the Head of the Dragon in the Caput Masses and Motet,” suggests. Reflecting her early training in piano performance and her love of the music of Debussy, Ravel, and Messiaen, Professor Robertson’s teaching also includes music of fin-de-siècle France. Throughout her career, she has been involved in the work of the broader University and the professional organizations, serving as Deputy Provost for Research and Education (2001-4) and Chair of the Music Department (1992-98, Winter 2008, 2014-16) at Chicago, and as Co-Chair of the OPUS Campaign of the American Musicological Society (2005-9) and President of the American Musicological Society (2011-2012). Robertson led the Division of the Humanities as dean from 2016-23.

Robertson is the first scholar to win all three awards of the Medieval Academy of America: the Haskins Medal (2006), the John Nicholas Brown Prize (1995), and the Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize (1987). Another trio of prizes, bestowed by the AMS, includes the H. Colin Slim Award (2007), the Otto Kinkeldey Award (2003), and the Alfred Einstein Award (1989). In 2007, the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association presented her with the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal. She has received grants and fellowships from the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation (1996-97), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1992), the American Philosophical Society (1990), the National Endowment for the Humanities (1990, 1986-87, 1985), the American Council of Learned Societies (1988, 1986), the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music (1982 83), the Fulbright Program (France, 1981 82), and the American Association of University Women (honorary, 1982). Robertson became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008 and a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2015.