Jessica Brantley, English, Spring 2020

Courses in MusicologyHistoryBook History, and Theology

Because I was chairing while doing the TRL, I broke it up over two terms.  In the first, I took a course in Medieval English Liturgy at the Divinity School, team-taught by a theologian and a musicologist.  It was a great experience, though I was not as involved as I would have liked—for example, it was a travel course, and I was unable to make the class trip.  In my second TRL term, I took a wonderful course in Historical Musical Notation in which I learned tons and was challenged in many ways to reorient my perspective.  Both of these music courses followed on my original proposal, and they helped me to think more broadly and from a more informed place about the relation between liturgy and reading in my current monograph on books of hours.  In the months since the second course, I’ve done some writing about music in medieval manuscripts, so the experience has had a huge impact on my scholarship, already.

I also took a course in my second TRL term in Black Classicisms, taught out of the departments of Classics and African American Studies.  I decided to take this course at the last minute, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests of Summer 2020, because I felt I needed to think about how to understand my own commitment to historical literature in the 21st century.  This experience will have a more immediate impact on my teaching than on my scholarship, but it, too, was transformative.  I am very grateful that, like an undergraduate, I could make a decision to follow interests and lines of thought that I hadn’t even had when I applied— like them, I could luxuriate in the richness of the Yale course catalogue.  It feels like an enormous privilege.

Finally, I’ll just say explicitly that I was especially grateful to be able to participate in this program while chairing.  The freedom and idealism of the classroom—the gift of learning that I received from my instructors—was exactly the right thing to balance with administrative labor.