Dr Emanuela Vai, FRHS

Dr Emanuela Vai is the Head of Research and Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College, Hill Collection of Musical Instruments at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. In the Faculty of Music, Dr Vai leads on all conservation, research and curatorial aspects at the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments. Dr Vai is the founder and academic lead of the Digital Humanities and Sensory Heritage Network at TORCH, an interdisciplinary team of scholars exploring how digital humanities tools can be leveraged to reconsider heritage and the senses. Dr Vai is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and she is the Director in Humanities at AISUK, with the aim of promoting collaborations between British and European academic institutions and research centres, in the public and private cultural heritage sector.

Previously, she has held positions at the University of Cambridge; at the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the University of York (CREMS); at the Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance de Tours (CESR); and at the Harvard Centre for Italian Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti).

Dr Vai’s research is situated at the interdisciplinary intersection of art and architectural history, music history, museum studies and material culture studies, with a focus on the early modern period. Her publications concentrate on musical instruments, soundscapes, space and the senses in Renaissance social life. Dr Vai’s methodological approach combines the analysis of historical materials with 3D virtual modelling, GIS platforms and acoustic analyses, to investigate the relationship between art, musical instruments, space and the senses in early modernity.  

Dr Vai’s work has been funded by the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the EU Commission Horizon, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Renaissance Society of America, the Royal Musical Association, the École Pratique des Hautes Études and the Newton Trust at the University of Cambridge, among others.

For enquiries about working with Dr Vai at postgraduate and postdoctoral level, please contact: emanuela.vai@music.ox.ac.uk

(Photo by Oxford Video Production).

Her publications concentrate on musical instruments, soundscapes, space and the senses in Renaissance social life. A full list of publications can be found on the Faculty of History website.

Early Modern History; Music and Material Culture Studies; Musical instruments; Soundscapes; Space and the Senses in Renaissance Social Life; Art History, Architectural History and Music History.

Dr Vai is currently the Principal Investigator of an interdisciplinary research project entitled ‘Fantastic Musical Instruments of the Global Renaissance’ that combines digital humanities tools (3D photogrammetry, AR/VR) with material and archival analysis to examine the production, ornamentation, circulation, collection and display of early modern musical instruments. The project, based at the Ashmolean Museum and the Bate Collection at Oxford, has been funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust and the EU Commission, situates musical instruments within their wider global constellations by tracing practices of decorating, making and collecting instruments in the early modern period.