Alexander W. Cowan is a doctoral candidate in Musicology at Harvard University. In 2022–23, he is a Graduate Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies.
His research broadly considers the politics of musical knowledge in the first half of the 20th century. His dissertation, Unsound: A Cultural History of Music and Eugenics, explores the history of the idea of innate musical ability, and reveals its use as a tool of eugenics movements in Britain and the United States.
His work has been supported by the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, the Charles Warren Center for American Studies, and the Harvard Center for European Studies. In addition to the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship, he currently holds an honorary Alvin H. Johnson AMS-50 Dissertation Fellowship from the American Musicological Society. In 2017, he received the Paul A. Pisk Prize for outstanding graduate student paper at the American Musicological Society’s Annual Meeting.