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Stanford Humanities Center fellow receives Emerging Scholar Award


Roger Mathew Grant, 2016 Stanford Humanities Center fellow, has won an Emerging Scholar Award for his pioneering work in music theory.

On November 5, Roger Mathew Grant, a current fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center received an Emerging Scholar Award from the Society of Music Theory for his book, Beating Time and Measuring Music in the Early Modern Era, published by Oxford University Press in 2014. The award recognizes an outstanding first book in the field of music theory.

Beating Time chronicles the shifting relationships between ideas about time in music and science from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries. Drawing on paradigms from the history of science and technology and the history of philosophy, Grant sheds light on how theories of meter and time in music have mutually informed one another.

Grant is an assistant professor of music at Wesleyan University. His research concerns eighteenth-century music, the history of music theory, Enlightenment aesthetics, and theories of the affects and the passions. Winning this award came as a complete surprise to Grant.

“I have huge respect and admiration for the scholars who have won the award in previous years. I didn't even know that I had been nominated, so I was blown away when I received the news. Now I'm just going to try to live up to it with the work that I'll put into my second book,” he said.

Grant is already hard at work on his next effort. He is spending this year as an external faculty fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center to work on a book tentatively called The Musical­­­ Origins of Contemporary Affect Theory.

Grant describes affect as “the sudden, immediate transformation that takes place when your hands become clammy and your heart beats quickly while listening to a performance with anticipation. Affect gives a name to the flush of your cheeks, the knot in your stomach, or the lump in your throat.”

His book traces the slow unfolding of affect theory in European intellectual history since the early modern era, and he demonstrates the central significance of music for this history. Using a historical approach, he explains how and why affect theory has reemerged in recent decades as one of the most powerful trends in the humanities and social sciences.  

“The theory of affect we have inherited today has its origins in eighteenth-century aesthetic debates concerning music’s capacity to function as a sign and to move its listeners,” Grant said.  

In addition to his academic work, Grant also collaborates on new opera productions. Most recently, he worked on an installation of The Magic Flute with NYU Art Professor Jonathan Berger among others. The New York Times listed the piece among the “Best in Art of 2015.”