Lindsay Wright

Lindsay Wright's picture
Assistant Professor

Specializations: American musics of the 19th and 20th centuries; musical talent, genius, and giftedness; African American history; dis/ability studies; childhood studies; music and media; the Suzuki method of music education.

Lindsay J. Wright is a music historian and ethnographer interested in the interconnection of musical performance, pedagogical practices, and racialized systems of privilege in the United States. Her research traverses topics from the last two centuries, including nineteenth-century musician Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins, televised talent shows, and contemporary violin pedagogies. Recent articles can be found in Nineteenth Century Music, Ethnomusicology, and the Journal of the Society for American Music. Her in-progress book manuscript, Talent Show: Musicality, Meritocracy, and the Aesthetics of Exclusion, examines how evolving beliefs about innate musicality and the American Dream have been chronicled on stage through the talent show format, which has endured from nineteenth-century amateur nights to contemporary competitions on reality television and social media. Together, Wright’s research centers processes of musical becoming—inextricable from the musical products musicology has long examined, and crucial in addressing the inequities surrounding them. 

In 2021-2022, Wright held an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship for her ongoing book project, The Suzuki Industrial Complex: Race, Class, and Talent in American Classical Music, which investigates how the Suzuki Method has catered to fantasies of meritocracy while striving to dismantle the concept of innate talent upon which they depend. Her dissertation, the first music project to be awarded the National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation’s dissertation fellowship, contended that “musical talent” is as heterogeneous, contingent, and politicized as the concept of music itself. Among other research and service pursuits, she will continue to promote further collaboration between musicology and education as a member of the American Musicological Society’s Education Committee.

Wright holds a PhD from the University of Chicago, a MEd in Multicultural Education from Eastern University, and a BA in African American studies and music from Wesleyan University. She has previously taught at the University of Chicago as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities, and has served as a public school teacher, youth orchestra conductor, and violin instructor since 2010.

Read more about Lindsay’s research and teaching interests in a Yale News interview here:

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