Nancy Newman

Nancy Newman

Associate Professor
Music & Theatre
Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies
nancy newman photo

Associate Professor Nancy Newman is the 2022 Rudolph Ganz Long-Term Fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago. This residency facilitates research for her next book, “The Chicago Musical College and the Quest for Social Harmony: The First Hundred Years, 1867–1967.” In summer 2019, Dr. Newman participated in the Newberry’s National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute, “Making Modernism: Literature and Culture in Chicago, 1893–1955.”

Dr. Newman supervised the Music and Theatre Departments’ merger while serving as Chair from 2014–2019. She is also Joint Faculty in the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Professor Newman specializes in European and American musical practices since 1800, with an emphasis on the relationship between art music and popular culture. Her interests include critical theory, film music, and feminism. Her first book, Good Music for a Free People: The Germania Musical Society in Nineteenth-Century America, is published in the series, Eastman Studies in Music (University of Rochester Press, 2010). Additional work includes “Gender and the Germanians: ‘Art-Loving Ladies’ in 19th-Century Concert Life,” in American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century (University of Chicago Press, 2012). The book was awarded the American Musicological Society (AMS) Ruth Solie Award for Outstanding Essay Collection. Dr. Newman’s 2014 talk on the Germanians' piano sheet music at the Library of Congress (co-sponsored by the AMS) can be viewed here. In June 2021, she will give the keynote address for the conference, “Music Across the Ocean: Transatlantic Cultural Exchange 1800–1950,” at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Vienna.

Dr. Newman’s recently completed an essay viewing Alma Mahler-Werfel through the lens of the #MeToo movement, “#Alma Too: The Art of Being Believed.” She is currently working on a critical edition, Songs and Sounds of the Anti-Rent Movement in Upstate New York, under contract with SUNY Press. A political campaign song from this project (recorded by alum Justin Friello) can be heard here. Other research topics include Bjork's contribution to Dancer in the Dark, the composer-performer Clara Wieck Schumann, and actress-singer Judy Holliday. An article on the 1950s musical, The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, appears in Lowering the Boom: New Essays on the History, Theory and Practice of Film Sound (University of Illinois Press, 2008). She has contributed to The Grove Dictionary of American Music (Oxford Music Online) and published reviews in Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies and Gender Issues, Women and Music, American Music, and Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association. Her essay, “A Music Teacher’s Perspective on Savant Skill” appeared in Leon Miller’s Musical Savants: Exceptional Skill in the Mentally Retarded (Erlbaum, 1989).

In addition to the NEH, fellowships and awards for Dr. Newman’s research have been granted by the AMS, American Antiquarian Society, Music Library Association, AMS-New England, and John Nicholas Brown Center at Brown University. She holds degrees from the University of Chicago and Brown University, where she worked with Rose Subotnik. Prior teaching includes appointments at Tufts, Wesleyan, and Clark University. A performer of electroacoustic music for piano and other keyboards, she gave the U.S. premiere of Matt Malsky’s heterogeneous for toy piano and live-processed sound at Brooklyn’s Bargemusic in 2011 and participated in a 2014 collective improvisation of Cardew's Treatise. Dr. Newman has also been a member of several West African drumming and Indonesian gamelan ensembles.