Acting Director of the Institute
Qualification: Ph.D., Historical Musicology, Harvard University
Research interests: Music in 18th-century Europe, Reception of European Music in East Asia, Music and Transculturation
Course Taught: Mozart; Western Music and Asia; Jazz Music; Music and Romanticism; Music and Culture in Baroque Italy; Music Sociology; Soundscapes: Music Cultures of the World and of Taipei
Jen-yen Chen received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in historical musicology, and has been a member of the Graduate Institute of Musicology since 2006. The focus of his scholarship is music of eighteenth-century Austria, and specific areas of research include Catholic sacred music traditions, aristocratic patronage, and issues of social class in relation to the Enlightenment. Though European musical history and culture remains a principal scholarly focus, Jen-yen Chen’s recent work has increasingly treated Europe as a non-autonomous region whose musics need to be understood in wider global contexts, implicated in intensive dialogues and encounters (not necessarily peaceful) with other traditions and peoples. Above all, he has been interested in processes of musical acculturation, enculturation, and transculturation between Europe and East Asia, and have drawn usefully for this purpose from conceptual frameworks provided by sociology, anthropology, postcolonial theory, and gender studies. A result has been the equally strong recognition that Asia (and any region, for that matter) is just as non-autonomous, and indeed that binaries such as “East-West” cannot serve as viable bases for interpretation; hybridity, ambiguity, and liminality are given and virtually self-evident. Having asserted this, he also notes that much of culture’s work in creating meanings involves pushing human understanding in the direction of essentialism (and he regards scholarship as a kind of culture), and so he remains interested in analyzing the ideological production of categories such as “Europe” and “Asia.” Recent projects which have touched upon these concerns include the imagination of China in eighteenth-century European opera, the practice of Catholic sacred music in Macau within the context of competing Portuguese and Chinese hegemonies, and the theoretical-pedagogical study of Western music in East Asia. Some of this work has already been presented in journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers.