Sarah Koval

Sarah Koval

Graduate Fellow
Medicinal Songs: Discourses of Music and Medicine in 17th-century England


Sarah Koval is a PhD Candidate in historical musicology at Harvard University. She is broadly interested in the role music played in discourses about the body in seventeenth-century Europe with a secondary interest in sound technologies and listening communities.



Project Summary

Sarah's dissertation takes stock of music’s role in the production and transmission of knowledge about the body in seventeenth-century England with a focus on the households in and around London. She aims to establish a historical and theoretical framework that will enable further research on the intersections between musical aesthetics, artisanal knowledge, and scientific conceptions of the human body. Sarah investigates how practical music making informed medical discourse by studying lectures given by medical professionals on the properties of music, accounts of music played at the gatherings of medical societies, printed pamphlets that advertised songs as ingestible pills, and the hymns copied painstakingly into household collections of medical recipes.