Associate Professor of English and Medieval Studies Ruth Nisse knows an awful lot about medieval and early modern literature. Her particular scholarly interests include medieval theater exegesis, and exploring relations between Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the Middle Ages. When I took ENGL 201 with Professor Nisse, it wasn’t hard to tell how well-versed she was in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” What I didn’t know was how informed Nisse is about Public Image Ltd., New Order, and other staples of ’80s post-punk—a fact that became clear when I suggested that Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” may have inspired the lyrics of PIL’s terrifying “Albatross.”
Nisse’s playlist is a bit more eclectic than that and ranges from bitter Prince classic “When You Were Mine” (“I could have listed all Prince,” admitted Nisse, which is all I needed to hear) to Israeli folk performer Chava Alberstein. Somewhere in between you’ll find “Everybody Knows,” a paranoid Leonard Cohen raveup from 1988’s synth-fused masterpiece I’m Your Man (If you have not heard this album, do so, please).
Here’s what Professor Nisse is listening to as she enjoys her sabbatical. Oh, and yes, “Iniagige” is the actual spelling. I checked.
Prince, “When You Were Mine”
Elliott Smith, “Speed Trials”
Leonard Cohen, “Everybody Knows”
Cat Power, “Willie”
Salif Keita, “Iniagige”
Siouxie and the Banshees, “Arabian Knights”
PJ Harvey and Thom Yorke, “This Mess We’re In”
Klezmatics and Chava Alberstein, “Kh’vel Oyston Di Shikh (I’m Going to Take Off my Shoes)” (poem by Itzik Manger)
Ryan Adams, “When the Stars Go Blue”
Ute Lemper, “I’m a Stranger Here Myself”