Holly Watkins

Associate Professor of Musicology

Chair, Musicology Department



Holly Watkins received her PhD in musicology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004, after completing an MA in musicology and a BA in physics at the University of Virginia.  Her book Metaphors of Depth in German Musical Thought: From E. T. A. Hoffmann to Arnold Schoenberg was recently published in Cambridge University Press’s series New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism.  Her articles on Romantic and modernist aesthetics, ecocriticism, and the American symphonic pastoral have appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, 19th-Century Music, Current Musicology, and Contemporary Music Review.  She has presented numerous papers at the annual meetings of the American Musicological Society, the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, and the Look and Listen Festival in New York City.

In 2010-11, Watkins held a Harrington Faculty Fellowship at The University of Texas at Austin, and in summer 2010, she participated in the Mannes Institute on Musical Aesthetics in Chicago.  Her work has also been supported by the nationally competitive Alvin H. Johnson AMS 50 Dissertation Fellowship, the Mabelle McLeod Lewis Memorial Fund, the Townsend Center for the Humanities at UC Berkeley, and Phi Beta Kappa.  Her current research and teaching interests center on the aesthetics and philosophy of music, ecocriticism, posthumanism, and gender studies.  In a former life, she enjoyed studying the principles of quantum theory and performing as the lead guitarist in an improvisational grunge-funk trio.

Works / Publications


  • Musical Vitalities: Organicism, Embodiment, and the Life of Music (in progress, expected 2017).
  • Metaphors of Depth in German Musical Thought: From E. T. A. Hoffmann to Arnold Schoenberg (Cambridge, 2011). For a brief and accessible overview of the book, see “Sounding the Depths of Depth” on www.berfrois.com.


  • “The Music Friend,” Opera Quarterly 31, nos. 1-2 (2015): 145-49
  • “Music Between Reaction and Response,” Evental Aesthetics 2, no. 2 (2013): 78-97, special issue on art and animals. → Full text
  • “Slavoj Žižek: Responding from the Void,” Contemporary Music Review 31, nos. 5-6 (2012), special issue on music and philosophy.
  • “The Floral Poetics of Schumann’s Blumenstück, op. 19,” 19th-Century Music 36, no. 1 (2012): 24-45.
  • “Musical Ecologies of Place and Placelessness,” contribution to colloquy entitled “Ecomusicology: Ecocriticism and Musicology,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 64, no. 2 (2011): 404-08.
  • “Schoenberg’s Interior Designs,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 61, no. 1 (2008): 123-206.
  • “The Pastoral After Environmentalism: Nature and Culture in Stephen Albert’s Symphony: RiverRun,” Current Musicology 84 (2007): 7-24.
  • “From the Mine to the Shrine: The Critical Origins of Musical Depth,” 19th-Century Music 27, no. 3 (2004): 179-207.


  • Lawrence Dreyfus, Wagner and the Erotic Impulse (Harvard University Press, 2010).Women and Music 16 (2012).
  • Nicholas Cook, The Schenker Project: Culture, Race, and Music Theory in Fin-de-siècle Vienna (Oxford University Press, 2007).  Austrian History Yearbook 43 (2012).
  • Musical Meaning and Human Values, edited by Lawrence Kramer and Keith Chapin (Fordham University Press, 2009).  Music Analysis 31, no. 2 (2012).