Charlotte de Mille: Delving into the Nuances of Music and Art
Dr Charlotte de Mille, leader on The Courtauld’s MA History of Art special option Music and the Visual Arts: Appropriation, Remediation, and Reproduction c. 1870-2022, has made a substantial contribution to the intersection of music and the visual arts with her publication, The Bloomsbury Handbook to Music and Art. Co-edited with Sarah Mahler Kraaz, this handbook promises to be an essential resource for scholars and students alike, offering new perspectives and insights into the relationship between these two disciplines.
We caught up with Dr De Mille about the inspiration behind this project, the challenges and rewards of interdisciplinary research, and what readers can expect to discover within its pages.
"A new turn in humanities scholarship"Simon Shaw-Miller
Can you tell us about the new collection and the main themes it explores?
The book is a collection of case studies organised around ways of perceiving, experiencing and creating. But our starting point was actually the extra-artistic considerations of activism and access. Throughout we were governed by the questions What can the visual and musical arts teach us of our histories and cultures? How can we integrate often obscured and marginalised voices? What are the pressing socio-political questions and problems of our time, and how do the visual and musical arts engage with them? What can one art and its scholarship learn from the other in their approaches to these questions?
Contributions therefore examine how artists and musicians are responding to systemic racism, homophobia, political repression, and decolonisation today. In a final section we invited practitioners into the volume with the aim of closing the gap between making and scholarship. We are incredibly fortunate that both William Kentridge and Peter Sellars agreed to be interviewed. I’m still tingling about that!
As co-editors, how did you and Sarah decide on the structure and content of the handbook?
It was essential we didn’t repeat existing studies but supported pioneering work by Simon Shaw-Miller, Peter Vergo, and others – we sought the gaps – through deep thinking about what was lacking in existing textbooks and what inter-media scholarship could cover. We wanted to challenge single-subject thinking, offer diverse methods and benchmark critical approaches.
How do you navigate and address the challenges inherent in interdisciplinary research, particularly in terms of integrating the different methodologies and perspectives within this book?
To offer truly global and cross-disciplinary representation is difficult given the academic drive to specialist areas of study, and historically, the emphasis on white histories of the global north. Rather than expecting every chapter to do all things, instead we offer case studies from diverse voices that together give a plurality of different ways of approaching interdisciplinary study. For example, in drawing on museology and heritage studies, we did so to offer a provocation to glass ceiling scholarship that ignores a wider public, and to ask, what can we learn from these practitioners of reception and mediation?
Are there any upcoming projects or areas of your own research you’re particularly excited about?
I’m having a bit of an annus mirabilis with not one but two books out! Bergson in Britain, Philosophy and Modernist Art 1890-1914 is also just published (we will be marking this with an event here at The Courtauld on 18th March). Apart from that, I’ve recently joined a new research project on post-war art and music in Europe organised through the extraordinary Fondazione Cini in Venice. Look out for another edited book from that project in c. 2026!
‘An agenda for change: both for individuals, artistically and conceptually, and for the myriad collective ways that humans dwell on the planet’ – Aaron S. Allen
“An incredible knowledge of Modernist art is intertwined here with scholarship in Bergsonian philosophy second to none.” – John Ó Maoilearca