Email Address
List Arts Center 204

Lydia Hamessley is the author of Unlikely Angel: The Songs of Dolly Parton, (University of Illinois Press, 2020). She has published numerous articles and is the co-editor of Audible Traces: Gender, Identity, and Music. She is preparing an article on the music for Paul Green’s symphonic drama The Lost Colony (1937). She plays the clawhammer banjo.

Hamessley was coordinator for the conference “Feminist Theory and Music: Toward a Common Language,” in Minneapolis, in 1991. She received her doctorate from the University of Minnesota and has won several teaching awards and fellowships.

Recent Courses Taught

Music in Europe Before 1800
Music in American Film
Roots Music to Country Music: The Making of an American Sound
American Folk Music Revivals
Studies in World Music (African Drumming & Javanese Gamelan)
Music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Music of the Baroque Era
Topics in Music (Music and Film)
Topics in Music (Southern Appalachian Music)
Topics in Music (Editing a Renaissance Chanson)
Topics in Music (Javanese Gamelan)
Music of the World’s Peoples
Advanced Seminar in Music History: Music and Text in the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Advanced Seminar in Music History: Music and Society in Elizabethan England
Music and Culture
Women in Music
Principles of Music
First Year Music Theory (2 separate courses)
Second Year Music Theory (2 separate courses)
Basic Aural Skills
Intermediate Aural Skills
Advanced Aural Skills


  • The Samuel and Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Hamilton College, awarded May 2013
  • The Class of 1962 Outstanding Teaching Award, Hamilton College, awarded May 2007
  • A-R Editions Award for best paper by a graduate student at the AMS Midwest Chapter meeting, 1988
  • Kappa Phi Honor Society
  • Pi Kappa Lambda Honor Society
  • Alpha Chi Honor Society
  • Texas Lutheran College Honors Program

Selected Publications

  • Unlikely Angel: The Songs of Dolly Parton. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, fall 2020.
  • Audible Traces: Gender, Identity, and Music.  Co-edited with Elaine Barkin.  Zürich: Carciofoli Press, 1999.
  • “Within Sight: Three-Dimensional Perspectives on Women and Banjos in the Late Nineteenth Century,” 19th-Century Music 31 (2007): 131-63.
  • “Peggy Seeger: From Traditional Folksinger to Contemporary Songwriter,” in Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Worlds: Innovation and Tradition in Twentieth-Century American Music, ed. Ellie Hisama and Ray Allen (Rochester, N.Y.: University of Rochester Press, 2007), 252-87.
  • “A Resisting Performance of a Traditional Appalachian Murder Ballad: Giving Voice to ‘Pretty Polly,’” Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 9 (2005): 13-36.
  • “Lost Honor and Torn Veils: A Virgin’s Rape in Music,” Menacing Virgins: Representing Virginity in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Kathleen Coyne Kelly and Marina Leslie (Newark, Del., University of Delaware Press, 1999), 165-78.
  • “Double Vision: Banjos, Guitars, and Mandolins in Late 19th-century Stereoviews,” Fretboard Journal 8 (2007): 108-14.
  • “Henry Lawes’ Setting of Katherine Philip’s Friendship Poetry in his Second Book of Ayres and Dialogues, 1655: A Musical Misreading?” Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology, ed. Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas (New York: Routledge, 1994), 116-37;  2nd ed. (2006), 115-37.
  • “The Tenbury and Ellesmere Partbooks: New Findings on Manuscript Compilation and Exchange, and the Reception of Italian Repertoire in Elizabethan England,” Music & Letters 73 (May, 1992): 177-221.  See also “Correspondence,” Music & Letters 74 (February, 1993).

College Service

Music Department chair, 2001-05; 2009-15
Faculty chair; member of Academic Council, 2012-present
Committee on the Library, 2010-present
Committee on Appointments, 2009-10
American Studies Committee, 2007-present
Academic Council, 1997-1999, 2001-03, 2006-09
Coordinating Council, Diversity and Social Justice Project, 1995-2008
Medieval and Renaissance Studies Committee, 1994-present
Women's Studies Committee, 1992-present
Community Relations Board, 1998-1999

Professional Affiliations

American Musicological Society
The Society for American Music
The Association of American University Professors

Appointed to the Faculty


Educational Background

Ph.D., University of Minnesota
M.A., University of Minnesota
B. Mus. Ed., Texas Lutheran College

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