Seth Monahan's research focuses on issues of musical meaning, interpretation, and epistemology. After studying composition and electric guitar at Philadelphia's University of the Arts (B.M., 1998), he earned graduate degrees in music theory from Temple University (M.M., 2002) and Yale University (Ph.D. with distinction, 2008). Since joining the faculty of the Eastman School of Music in 2008, he has gained prominence through his various publications, invited lectures, awards, and national/international conference presentations.

Much of Seth's scholarship has addressed the intersection of form and narrative meaning in the symphonies of Gustav Mahler (1860–1911). This project——which gave rise to numerous conference papers and major articles in Music Theory Spectrum, JAMS, and 19th-Century Music——culminated with the book Mahler's Symphonic Sonatas (Oxford University Press, 2015). More recently, his interests have turned to the rhetoric of music analysis itself, with a special focus on agency ascription and anthropomorphic metaphor. This project's first significant essay, “Action and Agency Revisted," appeared in the Journal of Music Theory in late 2013 and earned the 2015 Emerging Scholar Award from the Society for Music Theory.

Seth's other research interests include harmony and voice-leading in Wagner's late style (the subject of a forthcoming Music Analysis article), musical energetics, form in classical/ Romantic instrumental music, and the pedagogy of music theory. He has earned numerous distinctions for his classroom teaching, including the Prize Teaching Fellowship (2007), Yale's highest honor for instructors of his rank.

Seth lives in Rochester, New York with his wife Julie and his daughter Molly.