Tekla Babyak


Tekla Babyak received her PhD in musicology from Cornell University in 2014, supported by a Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies and a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. She is currently an independent musicologist and disability activist based in Davis, CA. Her disabling condition, multiple sclerosis, has prevented her from finding stable employment in the ableist workforce.

Her work falls broadly into two categories: disability activism in the academic humanities, and research on 19th-century musical aesthetics. As described in her Current Musicology article, “My Intersecting Quests as a Disabled Independent Scholar,” her activist work combines practical and philosophical ideas about how to uplift disabled voices in academia. Her activism involves her participation in activities from which disabled independent scholars are often excluded. These activities include giving guest lectures in university humanities courses, contributing to edited collections such as Rethinking Brahms (OUP), and chairing panels for the Goethe Society of North America. She also advocates for university presses to develop disability accommodation policies for authors.

Tekla is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research focuses on philosophical aesthetics, intertextuality, and theology in 19th-century music. She is especially interested in hermeneutic approaches to Beethoven, Berlioz, Brahms, Joachim, and Liszt. Her publications have appeared in Journal of the Royal Musical Association; Bibliotheca Dantesca; Current MusicologyHistorians Without Borders: New Studies in Multidisciplinary History (Routledge); and Rethinking Brahms (OUP). Across her wide variety of research interests, Tekla always brings an activist-oriented perspective to her projects. A central goal of hers is to show that a disabled independent scholar can make a meaningful contribution to research and social justice.


PhD, Musicology, Cornell University, 2014

Blog Posts


    -Modality as a signifier of disability in 19th-century musical works and theory treatises

    -Intersections between theology, pianism, and temporality in Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, and Marie Jaëll

    -Disclosure-oriented pedagogy

    Upcoming Talks and Conferences

    Organizer and chair, “Musical Responses to Goethe’s Works: Texts, Contexts, Genres,” on behalf of the Goethe Society of North America for the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies in St. Louis, 9-11 March 2023


    American Musicological Society; American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies; Goethe Society of North America; Modern Language Association; North American Society for the Study of Romanticism; Society for Disability Studies; Society for Music Theory

    Tekla Babyak

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