The readings from the beginning of the semester are the ones that have really stuck in my memory. I think the Sorce Keller reading is probably the one that will apply most broadly to how I think about music and music history in the future. Thinking of misinterpretation as a certainty can give us a lot of freedom to draw out meanings of our own from music. This was an idea that was very present in my mind when we read the Hildegard articles, which were personal favorites of mine. I also really appreciated readings on music in religions outside of Christainity- I thought the article on Islam was extremely relevant for us, and the article on Suya music gave me welcome exposure to a culture I knew absolutely nothing about.
The readings on Luther and Bach tend to blend together a bit more in my mind, but I think the guest lectures really became helpful additions to the course here. I remember that Professor Bateza’s lecture on Luther’s life and theology was particularly helpful for me- it was the first time I’d heard an explanation of the Doctrine of Justification that I really connected with. While I’m thankful for the deeper insights to Luther and Bach that I’ve gained through the course, I do think that our focus on them meant that we had to sacrifice talking about some other intersections between music and religion that could have been really interesting. Like many other students, I would welcome any more class content about theological traditions relating to music in religions outside of Christianity. I think it also would have been interesting to study some Western sacred music composed after Bach- as the podcast topics revealed, there are so many pieces that can add something new to the conversation about music and religion.
I appreciated that the class was very research-focused. The process is difficult and time-consuming, but it can be a very rewarding, and I like that research gives you an understanding of a topic that is much more detailed than what you can achieve with a single class discussion.