The Banting Fellowships program provides funding to exceptional postdoctoral applicants, both nationally and internationally, who will positively contribute to the Canada's economic, social and research‑based growth. The 70k renewable fellowships are designed to attract and retain top-tier postdoctoral talent, both nationally and internationally, to develop their leadership potential and to position them for success as research leaders of tomorrow.
Karen Desmond’s research focuses on the intellectual and aesthetic experience of music in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Her Banting project Greedy for New Things: What Novelty Means in Early Fourteenth-Century Music will explore the concepts of novelty and innovation in Europe from c. 1290 to c. 1350, and she will examine how big data approaches can inform our understanding of history and cultural production.
Using source criticism and close reading, as well as newer methodologies used by digital humanists in their analysis of large datasets of texts, and by some musicologists in their analysis of large repertories of music, Desmond analyses the concepts of newness, invention, and discovery as found in medieval writings on literary composition, rhetoric, philosophy, science, and mathematics. On a more general level, Desmond’s research investigates the use of theoretical models and tools from other disciplines or other times to describe how change happens in the arts.
Desmond received her Ph.D. in musicology in 2009 from New York University. She held a visiting post as Lecturer in Musicology at University College Cork from 2011 to 2013, and as a contract researcher at the University of Cologne from 2012 to 2013. In 2013 she was awarded a one-year NEH Research Fellowship for her monograph on novelty in early fourteenth-century music. She has published articles in Journal of Musicology, Plainsong and Medieval Music, Early Music History, and Musica disciplina, with a second article in Journal of Musicology forthcoming, and a translation of Lambertus’s Ars musica, edited by Christian Meyer (Ashgate, 2014).