Began studying seventeenth-century French rhetoric in the early 1980s. In 1984 her work with the singers of the Arts Florissants during rehearsals for Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Médée made her concentrate her research on the relationships that exist between poetry, musical notation and the music itself. Her experiences while rhetorician for the European Baroque Academy of Ambronay of 1998 (Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Thésée, directed by William Christie) shaped the approach she uses in her Harmonic Orator (2001). In 2002 she served as rhetorician during the preparation of Pancrace Royer’s Le Pouvoir de l’Amour (directed by Lisa Goode Crawford) at Oberlin College. She continues to coach singers in French sung rhetoric.
Musicologists know her primarily for her scholarship on Marc-Antoine Charpentier, his patrons, the Guise princesses, and his musician colleagues. Among historians she is better known for her editions of historical sources and her translations of several leading French historians, among them Fernand Braudel and Philippe Ariès. She and her husband, Orest Ranum, a historian of early-modern France, spend their winters in Baltimore, Maryland, and their summers in a tiny village in northern Languedoc, France.