Emeritus Faculty, Keough-Hesburgh Professor Emerita of Music History and Liturgy, Director of the Program of Sacred Music, Professor Emerita of Musicology and Ethnomusicology
PhD, Cornell University
MPhil, Cornell University
MA, Syracuse University
542A O'Neill Hall of Music and Sacred Music
Margot Fassler, Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy, is renowned for her work at the intersection of musicology, liturgical studies, and theology and is a specialist in sacred music of several periods. At Notre Dame she directs the Program in Sacred Music (SMND) and holds joint appointments in Music and in Theology; she is also a fellow in the Medieval and Nanovic Institutes at Notre Dame; and is a past president of the Medieval Academy of America. Before coming to Notre Dame in 2009, Fassler spent a decade as director of the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University, where she held the Robert Tangeman Chair of Music History and was appointed in the Institute, the Yale School of Music, and the Yale Department of Music. Her book Gothic Song (2nd edition, Notre Dame Press, 2011), won both the John Nicolas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America and the Otto Kinkeldey Prize of the American Musicological Society. Her interdisciplinary approach is demonstrated in her scholarship including The Virgin of Chartres: Making History through Liturgy and the Arts (Yale University Press), a study informed by close work with architecture (on JSTOR). The book has won both the Ace Mercers' International Book Award (for a book on art and religion) and the 2012 Otto Gründler Book Prize (for a book in medieval studies). This interdisciplinary approach is also reflected in a new book co-authored by with Jeffery Hamburger, Eva Schlotheuber, and Susan Marti: Liturgical Life and Latin Learning at Paradies bei Soest, 1300-1425: Inscription and Illumination in the Choir Books of a North German Dominican Convent. 2 vols. Munster: Aschendorff Verlag, 2016, and in a volume co-edited with Katie A. Bugyis and A.K. Kraebel, Medieval Cantors and Their Craft: Music, Liturgy, and the Shaping of History, York Medieval Press of Boydell and Brewer, 2017. Also on JSTOR.
Fassler has completed a widely-used textbook on medieval music, now being translated into Spanish: Music in the Medieval West (with its Anthology) (New York, W. W. Norton, 2014 and 2015 respectively). Her new work on Hildegard of Bingen combines study of liturgy, theology, music, drama, and the visual arts, and includes a full-dome digital model (with Christian Jara) based on the treatise Scivias (to be released in Spring, 2019). This work has been supported by both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Digital Innovation Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.
In addition to her work as a historian, Fassler is a documentarian, who has made films engaging communities of song within ritual contexts. Completed films include “Work and Pray,” about the Benedictine nuns who sing Gregorian chant at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT, “You Can’t Sing it For Them,” about African-American gospel music at Messiah Baptist Church in Bridgeport, CT, and “Where the Hudson Meets the Nile, Teaching Coptic Chant in Jersey City.” These films will be distributed by Folkstreams.net beginning in the Fall, 2018. Fassler has several other edited volumes to her credit, including The Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages, co-edited with Rebecca A. Baltzer (Oxford, 2000) and over sixty full-length articles and book chapters. She lectures widely in the USA and in Europe. She has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and an Honorary Member of the American Musicological Society.