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Distinguished Lecture Series: Gary Tomlinson
Thursday, February 21st, 2019
5:00 pm
Conrad Prebys Music Center Recital Hall

Distinguished Lecture Series guest, Dr. Gary Tomlinson, John Hay Whitney Professor of Music and Humanities at Yale University, presents "What Evolutionary Musicology Is, and What It Isn’t"

Click on image on the left for Dr. Tomlinson's Abstract and Biography.



How humans came to be musical creatures is an age-old question, one that has been linked to modern evolutionary thinking since its inauguration in Darwin’s writings. Nevertheless, research into the evolutionary history of human musical capacities has burgeoned in the last two decades, enough to justify speaking of a subdiscipline of “evolutionary musicology.” What defines this field of study? What is its place in studies of human evolution? What can it hope to accomplish? What is its relation to conventional musicologies, to new trends such as posthumanism, and to central tenets of the humanities in general? Finally—of particular importance at this moment of burgeoning interest—what are the pitfalls evolutionary musicology must avoid, pitfalls all-too-evident in such initiatives as evolutionary psychology and “literary Darwinism”?



Gary Tomlinson, by training a musicologist, has in recent years focused his attention on the musical and cultural evolution of Homo sapiens, leading to two books: A Million Years of Music: The Emergence of Human Modernity (2015) and Culture and the Course of Human Evolution (2018). His innovative view of this evolution models deep processual patterns in the interactions of culture and biology in hominins and other species, joining biologists' “niche construction” theory to the systematic analysis of Paleolithic cultures and an extended semiotics indebted to Charles Sanders Peirce. Tomlinson’s other writings include books on opera and subjectivity, Claudio Monteverdi and late-Renaissance thought, the role of music in Renaissance occult philosophy, and the place of song in the first meetings of Europeans with indigenous peoples of the New World; his essays explore many aspects of critical and post-critical theory in their musical applications. Tomlinson is John Hay Whitney Professor of Music and Humanities at Yale University, where he directs the Whitney Humanities Center.

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