Kirsten S. Paige

  • History & Literature

  • Office Location: 107 Morrison Hall
  • Office Hours: On fellowship leave, 2016-17
  • email


Kirsten S. Paige studied first at the University of Chicago (AB in Music History & Theory, 2011) and the University of Cambridge (MPhil in Musicology, 2012), before coming to the University of California, Berkeley to pursue a PhD in Music History and Literature.  Her dissertation, “Richard Wagner’s Political Ecology,” is currently being funded by the Albert Lepawsky Dissertation Fellowship from UC Berkeley’s Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities (2016-17).  Kirsten’s project was previously supported by a John L. Simpson Memorial Research Fellowship in International and Comparative Studies from the UC Berkeley Institute of International Studies (2015-16).

Kirsten’s recent work has focused on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German music, literature, and culture, particularly the work of Richard Wagner, opera studies, Romanticism, aesthetics, history of technology, medicine and science, media studies, ecocriticism and environmental history.  She has presented her work at regional, national, and international conferences, including at the Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society (AMS).  Kirsten’s research has been funded by the AMS, German Historical Institute (London), and UC Berkeley, as well as the Royal Musical Association, Frank Huntington Beebe Fund for Musicians, and Oxford University Press’ Music & Letters.  In 2011-12, she was an Edison Fellow at the British Library, which funded her degree at Cambridge.

Kirsten is also a serious practicing musician, having attended the Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division as a double bassist for five years starting at age 13.  As a bassist, she has performed with orchestras around the world, including the Britten-Pears Young Artists Program at the Aldeburgh Festival, the New York String Orchestra Seminar (including performances with Yefim Bronfman and Andre Watts at Carnegie Hall), at the Tanglewood and Banff Music Festivals, and at the Zermatt Festival in Switzerland with members of the Berlin Philharmonic.


“On the Politics of Performing Wagner Outdoors, 1909-1959: Open-Air Opera and the Third Reich” (in preparation)

“Wagnerian Climatic Fantasies: Sound, Space, Breath,” European Romantic Review, Vol. 28/3 (May 2017): 1-6.  Forthcoming.

“The Owl, the Nightingale, and the Jew in the Thorn-bush: Relocating Anti-Semitism in Die Meistersinger,” co-authored with Thomas Grey (Stanford), Cambridge Opera Journal, Vol. 28/1 (March 2016): 1-35.

“Book Review: David Trippett, ‘Wagner’s Melodies,'” Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association, Vol. 70/3 (June 2014): 708-10.

Selected Conference Presentations

“Turning Wagner Inside Out: Wagnerian Atmospheric Design and the Politics of ‘Breathable Music,'” (part of a special seminar “Sights and Sounds: History of the Senses in German-Speaking Europe”), Presented at the Annual Conference of the German Studies Association, Atlanta, GA (October 2017).

“Wagnerian Climatic Fantasies: Sound, Space, and Breath,” (part of a special seminar “Anthropocene Historicism”), Presented at the Annual Meeting of the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism, Berkeley, CA (August 2016).      *Winner: Best Graduate Student Paper Prize

“Parsifal in the Darkness” (part of a pre-formed roundtable panel “New Approaches to Opera and Character”), Presented at the Nineteenth Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, Oxford, England (July 2016).

“Richard Wagner as Ecocritic: Wagnerian Climate Theory and the Anthropocene,” Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society, Louisville, KY (November 2015).

“De-industrializing the Urban Body: Achieving Nature through Technology at the Bayreuth Festival, 1876-1890,” Presented at Dreams of Germany: Music and Transnational Imaginaries in the Modern Era, German Historical Institute/Max Weber Foundation, London, UK (February 2015).

“The Owl, the Nightingale, and the Jew in the Thorn-bush: Reassessing Walther’s Trial Song in Die Meistersinger,” Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society, Pittsburgh, PA (November 2013).

“Multiplicity of Meaning in Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser: Understanding and Performing Vocal Naturalism,” Presented at the Performance Studies Network Second International Conference, AHRC Center for Musical Performance as Creative Practice, University of Cambridge, UK (April 2013).