Faculty: Daniel Cavicchi


Daniel Cavicchi is a cultural historian whose research and teaching explores the role of the arts in Americans’everyday lives since the early 19th century. His books include Listening and Longing: Music Lovers in the Age of Barnum (2011), Tramps Like Us: Music and Meaning Among Springsteen Fans (1998) and My Music: Explorations of Music in Daily Life (1993), with Charles Keil and Susan D. Crafts. Most recently, he has been conducting research on the history of fan culture before mass media, as well as key intersections of music and politics in US history.

His public work has included a number of consulting and writing projects on music and history, including developing the exhibit curriculum at Seattle’s Experience Music Project, establishing the first Pop Conference with Eric Weisbard in 2001 and creating the social studies curriculum accompanying Martin Scorsese’ The Blues series on PBS in 2003. He curated Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom, the first major museum exhibit on the history of music and politics in the US, as part of the opening of Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum in 2009. Additionally, he was program chair for the US branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music in 2009–10 and a founding member of the Executive Board of the nonprofit organization Music2Life, in 2011–12. Since 2009, Cavicchi and furniture critic Dale Broholm have led the Witness Tree Project, an interdisciplinary curricular partnership between RISD and the National Park Service. He also currently serves as the inaugural Series Editor of Music/Interview, a book series from Wesleyan University Press.

Cavicchi has been invited to speak about his work for numerous organizations, including the Reception Study Society, the Steinbeck Festival, Brown University’s John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and the Art Institute of Universidade Estadual Paulista in São Paulo, Brazil. His latest book, Listening and Longing, received the 2012 Deems Taylor Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and the 2011 Peter C. Rollins Book Prize from the Northeast Popular Culture Association; his previous work, Tramps Like Us, was runner-up for the 1999 Woody Guthrie Book Award. In addition, he is the recipient of both the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from Brown University and the John R. Frazier Award for Excellence in Teaching from Rhode Island School of Design.

Academic Research/Areas of Interest

American cultural history

Popular music studies

Audience studies

Music education

Public history and education