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2016-2017 Visiting Artists & Scholars Series: Dr. Melanie Batoff

Dr. Melanie Batoff Lecture Announcement

LOGAN — The Music Department of USU welcomes the first of four Music Scholar Residencies, Dr. Melanie Batoff, assistant professor of Music at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. This program brings outstanding music scholars to USU to work with students in classes and one-on-one, as well as to present their current research projects. Dr. Batoff, a specialist in the area of Medieval music, will be in residence from 20-24 September, and in that time will visit classes in both the music and art departments. She will also present a lecture entitled “Seeing is Believing: Strengthening Faith through Medieval Liturgical Drama,” on Friday 23 September at 5 PM in the Caine Room, #212, Family Life Building, USU Campus. Her lecture is free and open to the public. 

In November, we will welcome our second scholar, Dr. Jonathan Bellman, Professor of Music at the University of Northern Colorado, a noted authority on music of the nineteenth century, especially the music of Frederic Chopin. He will be in residence from 15-19 November. His public lecture is TBA.

Abstract of her paper:

In the early twelfth century at Salzburg cathedral, Archbishop Konrad (1075-1147) faced the same theological quandary that had troubled generations of Christian theologians and reformers. How could the future canons be persuaded that the Gospels were authoritative and true when the Resurrection accounts differed? One solution was to introduce a new version of the Visitatio sepulchri (Visit of the Sepulcher) liturgical drama into the Easter Sunday liturgy throughout the Salzburg archdiocese.

I will propose that the Salzburg Visitatio and other similar Visitationes were modeled on Gospel Harmonies, theological texts that reconciled conflicts among the Gospels by presenting a single unified account. In these Visitationes, clerics sang newly composed chants and enacted a narrative of the Resurrection based on all four Gospels. This new practice stood in sharp contrast with that of earlier Visitationes, which employed preexisting chants and drew solely on Matthew and Mark. I will situate the harmonized Visitatio in relation to the German tradition of reading Gospel Harmonies and of singing them publically in the style of epics. Doing so challenges the accepted view that these newer Visitationes merely expanded earlier ones and fulfilled similar aims. In actual fact, they offered powerful testimony that the Gospels were authoritative and in no way discordant.


Melanie Batoff is Assistant Professor of Music at Luther College, where she teaches music history classes and coordinates senior papers. She is a medieval musicologist, with secondary teaching and research interests in Renaissance music and ethnomusicology. Prior to her appointment at Luther, Dr. Batoff taught at Baldwin Wallace University. Her research focuses on medieval plainchant, liturgical drama, and theology, with special interest in Easter reenactments known as the Visitatio sepulchri (Visit of the Sepulcher). She has an article forthcoming in Cantus Planus Proceedings and has published a book review in Plainsong and Medieval Music. Her work has been presented nationally and internationally at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, The ‘Cantus Planus’ Study Group of the International Musicological Society, the American Musicological Society Midwest Conference, the Canadian University Music Society, and in November 2015, she will present at the national meeting of the American Musicological Society. A doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada supported the research and writing of her dissertation, Re-envisioning the Visitatio sepulchri in Medieval Germany (2013). She is a member of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi and numerous scholarly musical societies.

Writer: Dr. Christopher Scheer, USU Department of Music, 09/14/16