Photo of Professor Yolanda Plumley

Professor Yolanda Plumley

Professor

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My research focuses primarily on the musical and literary culture of late medieval France. I have published extensively on the songs and lyric poetry of Guillaume de Machaut, the leading poet and composer of fourteenth-century France, the works of his immediate predecessors and younger contemporaries, and the books that transmit this repertory. I am especially interested in the artistic and political context from which these works derived; my research interests extend to court culture in the late Middle Ages in general, but in particular how it is reflected in the arts in France and elsewhere, and on the transmission of French cultural products across Europe. Recent projects include a study of citational practice in fourteenth-century music and lyric poetry (funded by the AHRC) and an international collaboration to create a new edition of the complete literary and musical works of Machaut, with associated online resources and sound recordings (part funded by the Leverhulme Trust). Publications from these projects include a monograph, The Art of Grafted Song: Citation and Allusion in the Age of Machaut (Oxford University Press, 2013), and two co-edited volumes of essays entitled Citation, Intertextuality and Memory in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Liverpool University Press, 2011 and 2013). I am currently recipient of a Leverhulme Trust Major Fellowship (2015-2018) for an interdisciplinary project entitled Music in the Time of Jehan de Berry. From 2017, I am visiting professor at the University of Barcelona, Department of Catalan Studies, and a senior collaborator on a new project entitled Performing Music and Poetry in Medieval Iberia led by Dr Anna Alberni (funded by the European Research Council). 

Research interests

My research to date has focussed especially on French music and lyric poetry from the late thirteenth to the early fifteenth centuries and their cultural context. My publications have concerned music, musicians, and poet-composers active at the courts of the Valois and at the Papal court in Avignon (c1320-c1420), in particular Guillaume de Machaut and his successors of the so-called Ars subtilior. A collaborative research project with Professor Anne Stone (Graduate Centre, New York) led to the publication of our study of the famous Chantilly codex, one of the most important late medieval music sources, and a volume of essays on this source. From January 2007 to 2010, I was principal investigator for an AHRC-funded project on Citation and Allusion in the Late Medieval French Motet and Chanson (see http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/history/research/centres/medieval/past/citation_and_allusion/), which led to a series of publications, including a major monograph entitled The Art of Grafted Song (OUP 2013), several essays, a PhD thesis, two volumes of essays on citation, intertextuality and memory in late medieval and Renaissance culture in general, and an online searchable database of lyrics (see http://jechante.exeter.ac.uk/archive/). I was principal investigator on a major collaborative project on Guillaume de Machaut funded by The Leverhulme Trust (2010-2014), which is continuing its work to produce a new complete edition in 13 volumes of the poetry and music of this important figure (the first volume was published in 2016, a two will appear in 2017), and associated research on his output and on the Machaut manuscripts (see http://machaut.exeter.ac.uk/). As part of these two projects, I organised two interdisciplinary international workshops 'Citation in French medieval poetry' (2007) and 'Citation in Medieval Music' (2008), and two interdisciplinary conferences, 'Citation, Intertextuality, Memory: Text, Music and Image in the Middle Ages' (2009) and 'Guillaume de Machaut' (2013). The Machaut project also resulted in a collaboration with the Orlando Consort, who are recording the complete polyphonic songs of Machaut from our new edition; six CDs have been recorded, and three already released to critical acclaim. I am currently researching music and political society in late medieval France in a project entitled 'Music in the Time of Jehan de Berry', which is supported by a three-year Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2015-2018).

Research supervision

I am open to discuss research proposals on any subject relating to medieval music and to the cultural and political context of music and the other arts, especially in late medieval France. I am especially happy to consider working with candidates with interests in medieval song, French lyric poetry with and without music, the works and career of Guillaume de Machaut, the Ars subtilior, and late medieval music manuscripts,

To find out more about studying for a research degree with us, please see our Graduate School pages.

Research students

Recent research students with successfully completed PhDs are:

Naomi Howell, The Tomb in Twelfth-Century Romance: Representations, Symbolism, Spirituality (2010)

Uri Smilansky, Rethinking Ars Subtilior : Context, Language, Study and Performance (2010)

Tamsyn Rose-Steel, French Ars Nova Motets and their Manuscripts: Citational Play and Material Context (2011)

Biography

I completed my BA in Music at the University of Exeter, and also undertook my doctoral research there on the language of fourteenth-century music, under the supervision of Professor Nicholas Sandon. I completed the PhD in 1991, while living in France, and the following year took up a temporary lectureship in the department of Music at Exeter, before moving to a post in the music department at University College Cork in Ireland. In 2002-3 I held a research fellowship at I Tatti, Harvard's Centre for Renaissance Studies in Florence, and in 2005 returned to Exeter as full-time director of the Centre for Medieval Studies. In 2006, I was promoted to Reader and in 2012 to a personal chair. I joined the History department in 2009. I was awarded a large grant by the AHRC in 2007 for a three-year project on citation and allusion in fourteenth-century music and lyric poetry, and in 2010 I received a grant from The Leverhulme Trust for a three-year collaborative interdisciplinary project on Guillaume de Machaut and his works. In 2011, I received the Sarah J. Williams award from the International Machaut Society. From 2015-2018, I am recipient of a Major Research Fellowship from The Leverhulme Trust for a project on late medieval French music and society, and from 2017 Visiting Professor at the Department of Catalan Studies, University of Barcelona, and a senior collaborator on a project on music and literature in medieval Iberia led by Dr Anna Alberni and funded by the ERC.