Biography

Seth Monahan’s research focuses on issues of musical meaning, interpretation, and epistemology. His graduate work (Yale Ph.D., 2008) addressed the intersection of form and narrative design in the symphonies of Gustav Mahler; that project gave rise to essays in Music Theory Spectrum, JAMS, 19th-Century Music, and Intégral, and culminated with the book Mahler’s Symphonic Sonatas (Oxford University Press, 2015). More recently, his interests have turned to the rhetoric of music analysis itself, with a special focus on agency ascription and anthropomorphic metaphor. That project’s first significant essay, “Action and Agency Revisited,” appeared in the Journal of Music Theory in late 2013. (For these publications, Seth has twice earned the Society for Music Theory’s Emerging Scholar Award—first in 2015 and then again in 2017.) His other research interests include harmony and voice-leading in Wagner’s late style (the subject of a 2016 Music Analysis article), musical energetics, embodiment studies, and form in classical/Romantic instrumental music.

Seth is also deeply involved with the pedagogy of music theory. In addition to mentoring new teachers in Eastman’s two-semester Music Theory Pedagogy sequence, he has published several essays on undergraduate theory teaching (in the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy and the upcoming Norton Guide to Teaching Music Theory) and is currently developing a series of instructional videos for undergraduate music theory, all of which are posted to his YouTube channel. These and other initiatives have earned him numerous distinctions for his teaching, including the University of Rochester’s Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2017) and Yale’s Prize Teaching Fellowship (2007).