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Jordan Musser


My research tends toward two distinct areas: popular music and politics in the late 20th-century, and 19th-century performance and intellectual history. Titled “Managing the Crisis: Music, Neoliberalism, and the Popular Avant-Garde in Britain, 1975-1984,” my dissertation uses four case studies to explore how free improvisers, performance artists, punk bands, and dub producers drew from Thatcherite notions of DIY self-reliance and creativity to bridge the fine-arts establishment and popular mass culture. Drawing from art history, political theory, and media studies, I complicate Marxian-inclined readings of the avant-garde by correlating the dissolution of the post-war settlements with the growth of a neoliberal aesthetics and economics practiced on the subcultural level.

19th-century projects have concentrated on music in Austria and Germany. Among my favorites are a project exploring the relationship between Hermann von Helmholtz’s psychoacoustics and Eduard Hanslick’s aesthetics, and an essay on the epistemology of “the mechanical” in Carl Czerny’s four-hand keyboard transcriptions. This latter work was presented at Four-Hand Keyboarding in the Long Nineteenth-Century, a symposium I organized in early 2017 through the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies.

In 2012, I earned the M.A. in the Humanities from The University of Chicago. Prior to graduate school, I completed the B.M. in Music Education at Susquehanna University, and for short time also attended the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University. My research has recently been supported by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) and the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies, and featured in the Metal Music Studies journal and Sounding Out!. Before coming to Cornell, I worked as an editorial assistant for Grove Music Online, and as a music educator.


  • Music