Professor Karen Desmond

Subject: Music

Department: Faculty of Music


Research interests:

Karen Desmond has been an assistant professor in the Department of Music at Brandeis University since July 2016. She held a visiting appointment as Assistant Professor at Harvard University in the spring of 2018 and has taught and held postdoctoral fellowships at University College Cork, the University of Cologne, and McGill University. Her first monograph, titled Music and the moderni, 1300-1350: the ars nova in theory and practice (Cambridge University Press, 2018), challenges prevailing accounts of the emergence of the ars nova in the fourteenth century. Other completed projects include her translation of Lambert’s Ars musica, edited by Christian Meyer (Ashgate, 2015), and The Montpellier Codex: The Final Fascicle, a collection of essays co-edited with Catherine Bradley (The Boydell Press, 2018).

At Cambridge, Desmond will work on her second monograph, tentatively titled Torso: Understanding the polyphony of late medieval England from its fragmentary remains

Select publications and awards:

  • Professor Desmond’s website of late medieval motets digitally encoded in mensural notation is available at
  • In December 2018 Desmond was awarded an NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant to extend this digital project and development of an online editor for medieval polyphony.
  • Other awards for her research include a one-year NEH Research Fellowship, a 2-year SSHRC Banting Fellowship, and a Provost's Innovation Grant from Brandeis University.