Matthew Mendez

Matthew Mendez's picture
Graduate School Student Certificate Program

Education History:

A.B., Harvard University: Music

MMus, Guildhall School of Music & Drama: Composition

MScR, University of Edinburgh: Word & Music Studies

M.A. and M.Phil., Yale University: Music

Areas of Interest:

Law and humanities; sound studies; histories of voice/sound inscription media; media theory; critical race theory; technology law; cultural techniques; media & Afro-diasporic sound


Matthew Mendez is a Ph.D. candidate in historical musicology in the Department of Music. He is an alumnus of the Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies. While at Harvard, Matt won the school’s Bowdoin Prize, awarded annually for an essay of high literary merit. He has also been the recipient of an ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award for outstanding writing on music.

Matt’s dissertation project traces the origins and contemporary fate of the so-called “right to one’s own voice,” a prospective and actual legal entitlement that first became thinkable with the advent of sound reproduction, with its ostensible “splitting” of voices from bodies. Bringing legal theory to bear upon historical understandings of sound inscription’s “capture” of the voice, the dissertation examines a series of case studies, from telegraphy to algorithmic “deepfake” voices, that underline the insoluble friction between, on the one hand, a putative protection against wrongful uses of one’s recorded voice, and on the other, the commonsense perception that (non-musicalized) sound resists capture as a form of intellectual property.