Rebecca Dowd Geoffroy-Schwinden is a historian of musical labor during the eighteenth century and Age of Revolutions. She specializes in France, its diaspora, and the French colonial empire. Her research is archival in nature, and most broadly examines the implications of music’s property status under nascent capitalism and democracy. An accomplished educator, Geoffroy-Schwinden teaches a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses from research methods to women’s studies and historical sound studies. She was the inaugural program coordinator of UNT’s BA in Critical Studies in Music and Society, an innovative interdisciplinary degree launched in 2022.
Her first book, From Servant to Savant: Musical Privilege, Property, and the French Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2022), exposes the fundamental role that the French Revolution played in the emergence of modern professional musicianship and music historiography. Reviewers describe the book as a “model of its kind” that promises to “transform” and “upend” our understandings of “a key period in European musical history” and “the musical work in the eighteenth century.” The book won the Lewis Lockwood Award from the American Musicological Society for the best book by an early career scholar. Her current research addresses women’s musical consumption under colliding political and consumer revolutions. For this work, she was recently awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend and an NEH-Hagley Fellowship in Business, Culture, and Society.
Geoffroy-Schwinden currently serves as Early Modern Co-editor of the Grove Music Online Women, Gender, and Sexuality Project. Her article “Music as Feminine Capital in Napoleonic France: Nancy MacDonald’s Musical Upbringing,” received a Music & Letters Centenary Prize for best original article in musicology. Other scholarly publications have appeared in journals including Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture and Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture, and in edited volumes with Duke University Press and Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, among others. She reviews books for leading international scholarly journals such as Eighteenth-Century Music and the Revue de musicologie. Geoffroy-Schwinden presents regularly at national and international scholarly conferences like the annual meetings of the American Musicological Society and the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies; she has given papers throughout Europe and in Tokyo.
Geoffroy-Schwinden’s research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Hagley Museum and Library, the American Musicological Society, the University of North Texas, and Duke University. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa (Penn State, 2007) and the Society of Duke Fellows (2009); and in 2020 she was a UNT Washington, DC Faculty Fellow.
Her graduate seminars draw on research specializations in eighteenth-century music, women in music, historical sound studies, and archive studies. These courses often incorporate hands-on archival research, listening skills beyond score reading, technical skills such as audio editing, critical information literacy, public engagement, and professional development. She is currently developing courses on music in global contexts from 1500 to 1900, music under capitalism, and technologies of musical production from Bach to the blockchain.
Geoffroy-Schwinden reviewed Dallas Opera productions for Opera News from 2017–2019 and served as Vice-President of the Society for Eighteenth-Century Music (SECM) from 2018–2020. Her public-facing work has included talks with local music organizations like the Dallas Chamber Music Society, Dallas Symphony Orchestra and UNT’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, as well as collaborations with national organizations, including an exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
A classically trained pianist, she also studied mallet percussion and harpsichord. From 2009 to 2014 she played vibraphone and keyboard for the Duke New Music Ensemble [dnme].