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West Virginia University Assistant Professor of Musicology, and UNC Music Ph.D. 2019 alumna, Jennifer Walker‘s monograph “Sacred Sounds, Secular Spaces: Transforming Catholicism Through the Music of Third-Republic Paris” has been published.

Described as a “tour de force of music and cultural history of the fin-de-siècle,” this monograph was published by Oxford University Press as part of the prestigious American Musicological Society Studies in Music Series.

“Sacred Sounds, Secular Spaces” provides the first fundamental reconsideration of music’s role in the relationship between the French state and the Catholic Church in the Third Republic. In doing so, the book dismantles the somewhat simplistic epistemological position that emphasizes a sharp division between the Church and the “secular” Republic during this period.

Drawing on extensive archival research, critical reception studies, and musical analysis, Walker reveals how composers and critics from often opposing ideological factions undermined the secular/sacred binary through composition and musical performance in an effort to craft a brand of Frenchness that was built on the dual foundations of secular Republicanism and the heritage of the French Catholic Church.

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This story was originally published on the West Virginia University College of Creative Arts website at Jennifer Walker is a 2019 Ph.D. graduate of the UNC-Chapel Department of Musc.


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