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Post Doctoral Researcher, Music

Maynooth, Ireland
Closing date
14 Jan 2024

Department : Music
Vacancy ID : 026501
Closing Date : 14-Jan-2024

The Role  

The Music Department at Maynooth University invites applications for a 24 month position as a Postdoctoral Researcher to work with Professor Karen Desmond and two further Postdoctoral Researchers and two PhD students on the project “Polyphonic Singing and Communities of Music Writing in Medieval Britain and Ireland, c. 1150 to c. 1350” (BROKENSONG) (funded by a 5-year ERC Consolidator Grant). For this postdoctoral position, we seek a candidate with a background in Medieval Musicology, Medieval Studies, or related fields to investigate the contexts, communities, and networks related to polyphonic singing in late medieval Britain and Ireland. The candidate should have experience with the study of medieval manuscripts, and expertise in studying either medieval music, medieval liturgy, and/or medieval historical archives, and have a strong knowledge of Latin, and the palaeography of late medieval scripts. (Please refer to vacancies website for the advertisement of another postdoctoral position for a candidate with a background in computational musicology and/or digital humanities.)  

The BROKENSONG project examines polyphonic singing in medieval Britain and Ireland during a transformative period of western music history, c. 1150-1350, when written books devoted to polyphony begin to proliferate. Using methodologies from musicology, music analysis, medieval and manuscript studies, practice-based research, and digital humanities, BROKENSONG aims to answer the principal research question: What does it mean for a culture to write its music down? BROKENSONG investigates what this act of ‘writing-down’ meant to and for musical communities. The insular sources extant from this period—just over a hundred mostly fragmentary sources—hint at stories of music practice and creation different from those suggested by the highly curated continental anthologies of polyphony that survive from continental Europe, and around which the history of western music was constructed. These are mostly broken books transmitting broken songs: yet BROKENSONG proposes that its in-depth study of these fragmentary and damaged sources will provide a breakthrough on fundamental questions regarding the relationship between music’s material culture—its books and its technologies of music writing—and processes of music creation in the later Middle Ages. It will reconstruct a lost vibrant musical culture, contextualizing these remnants of music writing and practice within specific music communities.  

Three intersecting phases of the project reconstruct the fragmentary material artifacts, develop historical understandings of music and community, and analyse communities of musical style through a combination of practice-based and computational approaches. The Postdoctoral Researcher recruited for this position will primarily work on the second phase of the project, titled ‘Contexts, communities, and networks’, which explores the meaning of music writing with a focus on the question: who was using music writing, either to write down or read music, and why? This phase of the project focuses on the case study of Worcester Cathedral: Worcester makes a particularly valuable case study for the study of music writing and its meaning for communities due its rich potential for archival and prosopographical research, its extensive medieval library, and its collection of liturgical books and fragments. The postdoctoral researcher will have a budget p.a. for research travel related expenses. The postdoctoral researcher hired for this position will examine Worcester’s music from the perspective of its ‘written-ness’, using the evidence of its surviving music manuscripts and textual culture, what can be gleaned of its book production practices and knowledge networks from its library, and what can be learned of its day-to-day musical practices through a study of its community and liturgy.  


Postdoctoral Researcher 2023 (LEVEL 1):  €42,783 p.a. (1 point) with increment after 12 months of service.    

Closing Date: 23:30hrs (local Irish time) on Sunday, January 14, 2024.  

Please note all applications must be made via our Online Recruitment Portal at the following link:  

Applications must be submitted by the closing date and time specified above. Any applications which are still in progress at the closing time on the specified closing date will be cancelled automatically by the system.  

Late applications will not be accepted.  

Maynooth University is an equal opportunities employer  

The position is subject to the Statutes of the University

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