Seminar Series

Our mind is an abyss which delights in depths profound…
We love mystery, under whatever form it comes
— Honoré de Balzac

The Dreyfus Affair: Truth on Trial

Monday April 10, 5:30 – 7:30 pm

A seminar with:
Ali Nematollahy, Associate Professor of French at Baruch College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
James Melo, ERC’s musicologist and Senior Editor at RILM

CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
Skylight Room, 9th Floor

When the Jewish captain Alfred Dreyfus was accused of treason in 1894 by a French military tribunal and imprisoned, French society erupted into a fireball of anti-Semitism and political partisanship that called into question the very nature of French identity. This tragic private drama played out in a very public arena, and truth itself was on trial. Not only the press but also artists, writers, and musicians became entangled in a controversy that lasted almost two decades and continues to resonate to this day. The seminar will address the cultural, political, and musical repercussions of the Dreyfus Affair and its relevance for today’s political climate.

Presented by the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation, CUNY, and the Ensemble for the Romantic Century in connection with ERC’s theatrical concert The Dreyfus Affair at Brooklyn Academy of Music, BAM.

For more information:
(212) 871-8606 :

Ali Nematollahy is Associate Professor of French at Baruch College and the Graduate Center. He has published on nineteenth century literature and politics, such as Proudhon, Nietzsche’s reception in France prior to 1900, Jules Vallès, Georges Darien, and Hugues Rebell among others and is currently working on the counter-revolutionary currents of the period of Directoire and Empire and their relations to early Romanticism.

James Melo has written extensively for scholarly journals and music magazines in Brazil, Uruguay, Austria, and the United States, and has been invited to participate as a panel discussant in conferences in Indiana, New York, and Canada. He is the New York correspondent for the magazine Sinfonica in Uruguay, reviewer of music iconography for the journal Music in Art, and senior editor at RILM (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale) at CUNY. He is the program annotator for the recordings of Villa-Lobos’s complete piano music and Camargo Guarnieri’s complete piano concertos and solo piano music on Naxos.

The series of seminars hosted by ERC at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), in partnership with the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation, fulfills one of the founding principles of ERC: merging performance and musicological research in order to enrich the musical experience of the listener through a variety of interdisciplinary discussions. Each seminar centers on a discussion of music in relation to an extra-musical context (literature, philosophy, visual arts, cinema, and others) that is pertinent to the parallel ERC theatrical concert. Scholars from a wide range of disciplines are invited to participate in the seminars, offering the audience an opportunity to engage in intriguing, illuminating, and aesthetically revealing perspectives about the subject matter.

The seminars are free to the public and are held one to two weeks before the concerts.