Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America

Bonnie Gordon

Associate Professor (Critical & Comparative Studies)

Bonnie Gordon's primary research interests center on the experiences of sound in Early Modern music making and the affective potential of the human voice.  She is a faculty director of the newly launched Equity Center. She plays viola in a  free improvisation trio Angela on the Arts that released an album called Within.  Dr. Gordon is currently working on two book projects. Voice Machines: The Castrato, The Cat Piano and Other Strange Sounds uses the castrato as a point of departure for asking several questions about the interrelated histories of music, technology, sound, and the limits of the human body. It positions castrati as sonic figures who tell a story about music, sound and technology before electricity. Jefferson’s Ear closely explores the historical record, especially what is and is not in his music collection. The book focuses on sound, music, and race in two locations; Monticello and New Orleans. The silences in the written record resound with the racial fear and exclusion that were as much a part of the American Revolution as inalienable rights, and that musical aesthetics mattered deeply in the emergence of race as a political and social category.Her first book, Monteverdi's Unruly Women (Cambridge University Press, 2004) frames the composer's madrigals and music dramas written between 1600 and 1640 as windows into contemporary notions of sound, body, voice, and sense. She has explored similar issues in articles about contemporary singer-songwriters Kate Bush and Tori Amos. She co-edited an interdisciplinary and cross cultural volume of essays about courtesans entitled The Courtesans Arts, (Oxford University Press, 2006).  She has also published on the Soundscapes of early America. Dr. Gordon is the recipient of two grants from the Folger Shakespeare Library, a dissertation grant from the American Association of University Women, a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brandeis University, a Bunting Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. She has also been the Robert Lehman Visiting Professor at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. Dr. Gordon plays viola in a rock band called Side Hustle.  She has published in the Washington Post, Slate, and various blogs.