JHI Circle of Fellows Spotlight—Sadie Menicanin

February 1, 2022 by Sadie Menicanin & Sonja Johnston

Sadie Menicanin (Faculty of Music) is a historical musicologist whose dissertation traces connections between gardens as built spaces and as constructed in dramatic musical works. Sadie is a Chancellor Jackman Graduate Fellow.

JHI: What are your main research interests?

SM: Very broadly speaking, my research has been consistently oriented around music & visual culture of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I’m fascinated by topics ranging from opera staging to film and television soundtracks, the history of architecture and sound’s presence in built environments, depictions of listening and music-making in visual art or literature, and how different imagined spaces can be palpable through music and sound.

JHI: What research project(s) are you working on now at the JHI and why did you choose it?

SM: During my fellowship year I am working on the final two chapters of my doctoral dissertation, titled “Gardens as Heterotopias in Early Twentieth-Century Viennese Opera.” This topic emerged out of my interest Viennese modernism and opera’s capacity to generate different senses of space and setting through interactions of music, text, staging, and performance venue. I wanted to think about these musical spaces in connection with other artistic (literary, visual) responses to the new, disorienting experiences of space and time that were characterizing urban life in the early 20th century. I found myself unable to ignore the gardens I saw popping up in various operas, and over the course of preliminary research realized that there was much more to gardens than I had previously considered. Gardens can be so many things; their design and function embody a lot of a given culture’s ideas and anxieties about nature, gender, pleasure, the ‘exotic,’ the city, and more. So, my project brings into proximity gardens in opera and gardens in the city, thinking about musical spaces in connection with the social and material environment.  

JHI: What experiences are you hoping for while you’re at the JHI?

SM: Because my dissertation is so cross-disciplinary, my biggest hope for my time at the JHI was a chance to connect, talk, and think with humanities scholars who would further broaden my horizons. Now, halfway through the fellowship year, I can say that hope has been realized. The collective energy and engagement that all of the fellows bring to our weekly seminars and to other events has been tremendously invigorating; that sense of excitement in sharing ideas and drawing connections has been sorely needed, especially in light of the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the isolation that distinguishes the writing stage of a PhD.

JHI: Share something you read/watched/listened to recently that you enjoyed/were inspired by.

SM: I’m currently reading Adrian Daub’s What Tech Calls Thinking, which is a brilliantly written and sobering tour through Silicon Valley’s ideological roots and the history of its core ideas (when it pretends it has no history).

I’ve been enjoying the music of some classic singer-songwriters recently, including Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell.

JHI: What is a fun fact about you?

SM: I’m an avid thrift shopper!

This profile is part of the JHI Circle of Fellows Spotlight, a series where we highlight each Fellow, their interests, and their research so that you can get to know them a little better.