French-American Bridge for Medieval Musical Iconography

About FAB-Musiconis

FAB-Musiconis is a project of Columbia University and Paris-Sorbonne University made possible by a three-year grant from the Partner University Fund of the FACE Foundation. The Project Leaders are Susan Boynton (Columbia) and Frédéric Billiet (Paris-Sorbonne). From 2016-2019, graduate student medievalists from each of the two partner universities participate in a program of activities for the academic year, including two-week intensive exchanges in Paris and New York. Admission to the project is by application in the fall semester each year.

FAB-Musiconis gives graduate students in several disciplines of the humanities a well-rounded formation in digital humanities approaches to the analysis and description of medieval images of music (which appear in media including manuscript illumination, sculpture, stained glass, wall painting, and Gothic ivories), with a focus on the Sorbonne’s Musiconis metabase. Students learn historical, critical, and technical methods for creating new database records and also enrich their research through the acquisition of multidisciplinary skills in the digital humanities. (For more information on the pedagogical goals of the program please see the full description of the learning goals and outcomes). FAB-Musiconis supports ongoing collaboration between the Sorbonne and Columbia, and increases the scope and reach of the Musiconis database. The multidisciplinary group includes musicologists, art historians, and computer scientists whose collaborative research focuses on the development of new methods for cataloguing images and on applications of ontologies and linked data to the classification of musical iconography.

Co-sponsors and institutional partners include Columbia’s  Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), the Columbia University Libraries (CUL), the Department of Music, the Dean of the Humanities, the Institut de Recherche en Musicologie (IReMus), the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA), and the Columbia Global Centers | Paris (CGC). The project is part of Columbia University Digital Humanities, an initiative of the Columbia University Libraries and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

The team members in addition to Boynton and Biliet are Lindsay Cook, Alex Gil (Columbia); Xavier Fresquet and Victoria Eyharabide (Sorbonne); Sébastien Biay and Isabelle Marchesin (INHA); and Fabien Guilloux (CNRS). The Columbia student participants for 2017 are listed here and the Sorbonne student participants for 2017 are listed here. All the student participants for 2017-18 are listed here and those for 2018-19 are listed here.

The Partner University Fund (PUF) is a unique transatlantic initiative launched in 2007 by the French Embassy in the United States to foster forward-looking research collaboration at the highest level. Funded by French and American donors, the Partner University Fund unites cutting-edge labs and universities on both sides of the Atlantic to tackle critical challenges of the 21st century. By linking the most talented scholars from France and the U.S. and training a new generation of young leading researchers, PUF seeks to boost the quality of scientific and humanistic research and accelerate breakthroughs while building sustainable institutional partnerships. Since 2007, the Partner University Fund has been supporting 87 original three-year projects involving two or more American and French institutions in diverse and complementary fields of study. The Fund supports transatlantic mobility, training and research at the graduate, post-doctoral and faculty levels in several forms: collaborative research; joint classes / curricula; co-publications; joint conferences; creation of joint or dual degrees, thesis co-supervision…etc. The Partner University Fund is a program of the FACE Foundation, an American nonprofit (501C3) partner organization of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States that strives to generate and promote French-American collaboration in the arts, education, and cultural exchange through innovative projects between creative professionals from both countries.

Image credits:

Top: Mosaic with musicians wearing New Comedy masks, from the Villa of Cicero at Pompei, ca. 199-80 C.E.. Napoli, Museo Archeologico Nazionale. (Photo: Susan Boynton)

Right and background: Detail from the right leaf of an ivory diptych with the Coronation of the Virgin and angel musicians, Venice (?), late fourteenth century. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection, 1971 (photo: www.metmuseum.org)

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