Miss Katie Cattell

Supervised by

Personal profile

Katie's first degree was in German and music, and this background has strongly influenced her subsequent research interests and doctoral thesis. Katie is also one of the five founding members of the group Critical Theory for Musicology.

Thesis Abstract

Pleas to examine Schubert’s music on its own terms, rather than through a Beethovenian lens, are both widespread and acknowledged to date from Robert Schumann onwards. Despite this, it is equally accepted that the comparison between Beethoven and Schubert remains remarkably prevalent in Schubert scholarship. In sympathy with these calls, this thesis takes several concepts now widely understood to be central to Schubert’s musical processes (the fragment, repetition, wandering and homecoming) and explores their philosophical consequences in Schubert’s music.

Much of what now constitutes the vocabulary for discussing Schubert’s music can be traced back to Theodor W. Adorno, particularly the 1928 essay ‘Schubert’. Adorno’s approach to Schubert is doubtless fruitful, even close to a century later. As this thesis explains, the essay opens up a potential line of Adornian thought running counter to the dominant Adornian narrative about nineteenth-century music, which is entrenched in the Beethovenian-Hegelian paradigm. Instead, the thesis suggests Adorno’s use of thought inherited from early German Romanticism, applied in particular to his reception of both Schubert and Mahler, offers an alternative conception of Austro-German nineteenth-century music through the fragment, can lead to a different reading of Schubert’s musical time.

This alone, however, cannot overcome Adorno’s problematic attitude towards repetition. With that in mind, the thesis turns to Martin Heidegger. Despite Heidegger’s lack of engagement with music, he offers a potential for reading Schubert’s overwhelming use of repetition as an active process. Heidegger’s work places repetition, like wandering and homecoming, against a backdrop of ‘being’ – providing a different temporal model for interrogating Schubert’s use of form: one of ‘being’ rather than becoming. Through using the work of both Heidegger and Adorno, a further understanding will be gained of such philosophical categories and the way they operate in Schubert’s music.


Katie has previously taught on first-year courses encompassing Theory and Analysis, Practical Musicianship, A Very Short History of Music, Historical Musicology and the second-year course Studies in Music History.

Since 2015, she has also worked as the Music Tutor on the International Foundation Year at Royal Holloway's International Study Centre. In 2018 this role was extended to become full-time to encompass the delivery of the Literature module as well.

Educational Background

MA by Research in German, Distinction - Royal Holloway University of London 2012-2013, Dissertation: Identity, Subjectivity, and Temporality in Variation Form: A Musical and Philosophical Enquiry

BA (Hons) German and Music, First with Distinction in German Language - Royal Holloway, University of London 2008-2012

View all (2) »

View all (12) »

ID: 16781493