Associate Professor Nancy 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. A recent article, “#Alma Too: The Art of Being Believed,” views Alma Mahler-Werfel through the lens of the #MeToo movement. It appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society (JAMS 75, no. 1 [April 2022]); see here for the abstract. Dr. Newman 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 book project (recorded by alum Justin Friello) can be heard here.
Dr. Newman was the 2022 Rudolph Ganz Long-Term Fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago. The residency facilitated research for her third 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.”
While serving as Chair from 2014–2019, Dr. Newman supervised the Music and Theatre Departments’ merger. She is Joint Faculty in the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
Dr. Newman's 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). This 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.
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).
Additional 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 and participated in a collective improvisation of Cardew's Treatise. Dr. Newman has also been a member of several West African drumming and Indonesian gamelan ensembles.