Aesthetics, Philosophy of Music and Improvisation, Existentialism, Poststructuralism and Postmodernism, Critical and Cultural Theory


Dr. Szekely’s primary research and teaching interests are in aesthetics (especially the philosophy of music and improvisation), existentialism, French poststructuralism (especially Roland Barthes and Gilles Deleuze), and Frankfurt School critical theory (especially Walter Benjamin). He has published articles in such journals as Jazz Perspectives, Social Semiotics, Textual Practice, Rhizomes, Contemporary Aesthetics, Popular Music and Society, and the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Music Education, and is currently writing a book on poststructuralism and music. Since 2009, Dr. Szekely has also held week-long seminars at the prestigious Chautauqua Institution in western New York on such topics as: “American Music,” “Nietzsche, Vital Philosopher,” “The Beats,” and “Philosophy and Interdisciplinarity.” Also a practicing musician and composer with a particular interest in collective improvisation, Dr. Szekely studied jazz at the Hartt School of Music (Hartford) led by the late saxophonist Jackie McLean and percussion with drum master Milford Graves at Bennington College, VT. He has performed and/or recorded with Hawk Tubley & The Ozymandians, Anthony Braxton, Dave Liebman, Bobby Zankel, the Daniel Blacksberg Trio, Heath Watts, Feet Music, and singer-songwriter Courtney Parker, and has collaborated with a number of other musicians and groups contributing to the improvisational music scene in Philadelphia, notably Reel, The Scriptors, Transitional Objects, Jack Wright, Several Wolves, and Trio Rhizome.

Curriculum Vitae

Selected Publications

  • “What is an Event to a Subject? What is a Subject to an Event? Musical Folds,” in Subjective Agency and Poststructuralism, ed. Gavin Rae (Routledge; forthcoming  2024). 
  • “What Moves Music? Poststructuralism and Musical Ontology,” in Historical Traces and Future Pathways of Poststructuralism: Aesthetics, Ethics, Politics, eds. Emma Ingala and Gavin Rae (UK: Routledge, November 12, 2020).
  • “Music of a Witch’s Line: Deleuze and Guattari, and Music Video Shreds,” Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge 34, July 2018,
  • Review of The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic, by Monique Roelofs, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Volume 75, Issue 1, Winter 2017, 99-100.
  • “Musical Education: From Identity to Becoming,” The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Music Education (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • “Jazz Naked Fire Gesture: Improvisation as Surrealism,” Papers of Surrealism, Issue 9, Summer 2011,
  • Schizo Zen, or, Subjectivity and the Schizoid Musician,” Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge 20, Summer 2010, special issue: “Boundaries of Publication: Posthumography". 
  • Progressive Listening, or Listening as Improvisation: The Case of The Shaggs,” Canadian Journal of Aesthetics, Volume 15, Fall 2008.
  • “Thresholds: Jazz, Improvisation, Heterogeneity, and Politics in Postmodernity,” Jazz Perspectives 2 (1), 2008, pp. 29-50.
  • “Fullness-to-Explosion: The Mode of Musical Becoming,” Litteraria Pragensia 16, (32), 2006, special issue: “Towards a New Aesthetics: Technology, Intensity, Heterogeneity,” pp. 96-114.
  • Gesture, Pulsion, Grain: Barthes’ Musical Semiology,” Contemporary Aesthetics, Volume 4, 2006
  • “Pushing the Popular, or Toward a Compositional Popular Aesthetics,” Popular Music and Society 29 (1), 2006, 91-108.

Courses Taught

  • Honors Intellectual Heritage
  • Honors Meaning of the Arts
  • Humor
  • Jazz: History, Culture, Aesthetic
  • Myth, Satire, and Spectacle (Everyday Life Studies)
  • Thresholds of Appropriation