About melanie

I am a musicologist in the Department of Music, University College Cork, Ireland. My research and teaching focuses on power and subjectivity in music, particularly in relation to gender, sexuality and eroticism, and race and ethnicity. I work on 16th century and early modern Italian music, and popular music.

Med-Ren Music in the 21st Century

I want to draw your attention to a session in the upcoming Medieval and Renaissance Music conference in Maynooth next weekend: Med-Ren Music in the 21st Century. The speakers and their papers are:

Brandi A. Neal: “An Ounce of preventions is worth a pound of cure”: shielding early music from the Alt-Right.

Elizabeth Randell Upton: Music, medievalism and white supremacy: anti-racist pedagogy after Charlottesville.

Samantha Bassler: Music, disability and a 21st -century pedagogy of medieval and renaissance culture.

It’s currently scheduled for 5-6.30pm on Thursday 5 July in the Bewerunge Room. I guess things might change, though, as they sometimes do at conference, so it’s best to check the link to the full schedule available on the conference information page. The overall programme looks exciting. You might think I would say that, since I’m on the committee, but I’ve been on sick leave for several months and out of the loop. My gratitude to Antonio Cascelli, Eleanor Giraud, and Thomas Schmidt for being so gracious about my absence.

Call for Papers – Medieval & Renaissance Music Conference, 5-8 July, 2018, Maynooth, Ireland

We welcome papers and themed sessions on any relevant topic, from performing and recording early music in the twenty-first century, to madrigal studies, sources studies, analytical studies, medieval and renaissance music in Ireland, to mention only a few. In view of recent political events across the world, however, as a committee, we would like to suggest at least one topic and create space to consider the politics around researching, teaching and performing Med & Ren music in a time when racists, white nationalists (not only in the US) and xenophobes feel emboldened. How do we teach Med & Ren music courses that do not appear to be safe havens for white supremacists? That challenge ahistorical views of Med & Ren as all white (male) and Christian? What resources do we need? What stories are we not telling? What does intersectional, postcolonial, and/or anti-racist research, teaching and music-making look like or sound like in our field? What are the structural barriers to inclusivity and diversity in our field, and what can we do to remove them? We feel this is an important topic for our research fields, but it is not intended as a conference theme in any restrictive way and we would like to stress of course, that all themes and topics will be considered with equal interest.

Possible formats of presentation include, but are not limited to:

* individual papers of 20 minutes
* paired papers (60 minutes including QA)
* themed sessions (120 minutes for 4 papers and 90 minutes for 3 papers, including QA)
* round tables
* workshops/ lecture-recitals
* posters
* short 10-minute presentations

Conference languages: German, English, French, Italian, Spanish

All proposals should include:

* title
* indication of format
* proposer’s name
* proposer’s affiliation (if any)
* names and affiliations of any additional participants
* contact email
* AV requirements
* a short bio or bios of the participants (max. 15 lines; this has no bearing on the evaluation but simply for distribution to chairs).


* for individual contributions : c. 250 words
* for sessions with multiple participants: c. 200 words on the proposal as a whole, and c. 100 words on the contribution of each participant.

Deadline for all proposals: 4 December 2017.

Notification of acceptance: by 31 January 2018.

Proposals to be submitted to MedRen2018@mu.ie

General Information
The committee would like to support academic parenting. As such, a room with a fridge will be available as lactation room. The room is located on the first floor of Logic House (accessible via staircases), the same building where the main sessions will take place.

Antonio Cascelli (Maynooth University)
Eleanor Giraud (University of Limerick)
Frank Lawrence (University College Dublin)
Melanie Marshall (University College Cork)
Thomas Schmidt (University of Manchester/ University of Huddersfield)

For information contact: MedRen2018@mu.ie

Useful Resource for Exploring Lived Experience in Higher Ed

I recently came across this useful resource compiled by Dr Dina Belluigi (Queens University Belfast). Belluigi writes:

Formal courses in Higher Education Studies aim to engage those working within and researching the context of higher education with scholarship. This Archive provides an additional alternative space to explore the complexities of lived experience(s) in higher education, and extend the imaginative, expressive, empathetic and projective possibilities of such engagement. Thus the ‘texts’ here include literature (popular fiction, non-fiction, novels and short stories etc), film, TV series, music, plays and visual art. The aim is for this to have a borderless focus. You are invited to peruse and to contribute to this archive – either by suggesting titles or events to me (Dina Belluigi via d.belluigi@qub.ac.uk) or by sending your own brief take on those texts you’ve engaged with. Any language or format. … (Note that the texts included herein are diverse, and are not representative of my own opinion nor that of the institutions with which I am affiliated. Many are counter-narratives, and so may be provocative or challenging of prevalent norms). The site serves as a link to where the text can be accessed, not a repository, and as such is about facilitating access, not claiming author/ownership.

MA Scholarships at UCC

This year, applicants to MA degrees in UCC’s College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences may apply to two scholarship schemes: the CACSSS Excellence Scholarship, and the Quercus Taught Masters Academic Scholarship. (Students may not hold scholarships in both schemes simultaneously.)

UCC’s Music MA programmes are:

If you’re interested in studying musicology, you should apply to the MA in Music and Cultural History.

We also offer the MRes (Masters of Research).

There are twelve CACSSS Excellence Scholarships available to applicants who intend to start a taught MA or MRes in UCC’s College of Arts, Celtic Studies, and Social Sciences.

The scholarships are for one year full-time or two years part-time only and are not extendable for any reason. If the Taught Programme is officially of two years’ duration, then the scholarship can be renewed for a second year, subject to satisfactory reports from the student and supervisor at the end of Year 1.

The scholarships are open to EU and non-EU students. However, the funding will only cover the EU fee, so successful non-EU applicants will be responsible for the balance.

Applicants must have at least Second Class Honours (Grade 1) or equivalent in their first or subsequent degree and must have already applied for their chosen postgraduate course at www.pac.ie/ucc. A referee’s report will be required as part of the application process.

Excellence Scholarships (Masters) Application Form (58kB)

Excellence Scholarships (Masters) Referees Report (46kB)

Excellence Scholarships (Masters) Terms and Conditions (514kB)‌

Completed applications including all documentation must be emailed to graduateschool.cacsss@ucc.ie no later than Friday, 7 April 2017.
Source & more information: https://www.ucc.ie/en/cacsss/grads/scholarships_and_funding/pro_students/


The Quercus Taught Masters Scholarship scheme offers three EU and three non-EU scholarships for taught MAs in the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences. (The figure of thirty-three scholarships given below is for the scheme as a whole.)

Quercus Taught Masters Academic Scholarships will be awarded to top-performing postgraduate applicants to masters courses in 2017/18.

  • 33 scholarships will be awarded to candidates who have a minimum 1H (or equivalent) in their undergraduate degree and who are deemed by their college of choice to demonstrate an exceptional level of academic excellence and commitment to their masters course of choice, as evidenced by their personal statement.
  • The Quercus Taught Masters Academic Scholarship is a 50% contribution towards postgraduate fees for the duration of the postgraduate course to self-funded applicants.

Application deadline 2017

  • June 1st 2017 is the closing date for applications.
  • For those waiting final year results, June 30th is the deadline for uploading final transcripts to PAC.
  • Awards will be communicated to applicants by mid-July 2017.

Source & more information: http://www.ucc.ie/en/quercus/about/postgrad/


Sounding the Feminists: #EqualityTime, #HearAllComposers

Yesterday, Sounding the Feminists, a collective of women composers, musicians and musicologists, began a Twitter campaign to encourage the programming of contemporary music by women. Irish composers Amanda Feery, Finola Merivale, and Emma O’Halloran started the campaign and it has taken on a life of its own.

Campaigners used Twitter to highlight women composers whose work they’d like to see (and hear) programmed. Each tweet named three women composers and many of the tweets supplied their photos. The hashtags morphed a little over the day, from #timeforequality to #equalitytime, and #hearallcomposers.

The list of women composers generated here is pretty diverse, although I’m sure that could be improved still. It includes women composers of colour (right from the first tweet), and women of various ages. It is also quite diverse in terms of genres, styles, performing forces.

I have collated the tweets into a Storify story based on the three hashtags that were used throughout the day. It is very, very long. I have done my best to ensure there are no repeated tweets or repeated combinations of composers, but there are simply too many tweets for me to check right now that each tweet contributes something unique. If I have a chance over the coming days, I will edit to improve the story. (There are surely ways to group the mass of material to tell a story.) But one thing is abundantly clear: there are a lot of living women composers—this campaign has barely touched the surface—and no self-respecting music programmer can claim ignorance.

Women of Renaissance Ferrara

This is a super quick post to flag up last week’s BBC Radio 3 Composer of the Week series. Instead of concentrating on one composer, they chose as their focus music and women in Renaissance Ferrara. The series draws heavily on the research of Professor Laurie Stras (University of Southampton) and recordings by Musica Secreta, the women’s voice ensemble that Prof. Stras co-directs with Deborah Roberts.

Do not miss the third programme! It is devoted to the music of nuns, and it reveals a newly-discovered woman composer. Stras identifies Suor Leonora d’Este, a noble-born nun in the Corpus Domini convent in Ferrara, as the likely composer of an intriguing book of anonymous motets, the Musica quinque vocum: motteta materna lingua vacate (1543). ‘Felix namque es sacra’, a motet written for five equal soprano voices, is one of the highlights.

At time of writing, there are between 21 and 26 days left to listen again to these programmes, so get listening! And if that’s not enough (it won’t be), Musica Secreta’s recording of these exquisite motets, Lucrezia Borgia’s Daughter, is now available.

Day 1: St Catherine of Bologna

Day 2: Lucrezia Borgia, Tromboncino, and de Rore

Day 3: Leonora d’Este and Raffaella Aleotti

Day 4: Giaches de Wert and the First Concerto

Day 5: Dangerous Graces: Luzzaschi and the Fall of Ferrara

Using Special Collections for Teaching Music Undergraduates

Studying Music at University is a core module for all first-year Arts-Music students at University College Cork. The module is a study skills and writing course that introduces the various disciplines of music, and covers the history of the subject in third-level education. This year, the students will work in small groups to create public websites, podcasts or vodcasts. I have built in revision of drafts (as well as peer review and peer editing) into the assessment process, so the students will practice writing, evaluating, and revising. I’ve arranged sessions on creating websites with Claire Fennell and Dr Sarah Thelan (Instructional Design), on making podcasts or vodcasts with John Hough (Music), on professional and entrepreneurship skills with Peter Finnegan and Trish Gibbons (Blackstone LaunchPad), and on library and search skills with the subject librarian, Claire O’Brien. Helping students to learn to critically evaluate sources and communicate their evidence-based findings in a clear manner feels more important than ever.

What has me really excited this year is that students will be using primary sources available in UCC Boole Library’s Special Collections and Archives. Elaine Harrington and Emma Horgan found a range of materials, including mentions of music in George Boole’s correspondence, in the UCC Record (a publication covering the early years of the university), as well as printed music (including music by Annie Patterson), and autograph music manuscripts by Seán Ó Riada and Arnold Bax. There’s also the Henebry wax cylinder collection which was recently digitized.

I’m very grateful to Dr Jill Rogers for alerting me to Elaine Harrington’s enthusiasm for bringing students in to the archives. When I began lecturing at UCC in 2005, I was informed there were no music-related holdings in Special Collections or Archives available for use by music students. Several collections were catalogued and made available while I was away on my fellowship (2011-14) but until I contacted Elaine Harrington and Emma Horgan, I had no idea of the extent of our holdings.

Elaine’s interview with Shush! Sounds From UCC Library explains more about Special Collections and the ways she collaborates with UCC academics to bring undergraduate and postgraduate studies in to the reading rooms.

Lady Gaga cakes, continued

Gaga has released a new album, Joanne, and the fan cake tributes continue. (I’ve written about these on my blog, in print, and now as a UCC op ed.) Gaga’s changing image is all part of her play with authenticity, and multifaceted identity performativity. For this album, Gaga’s costuming appears to be Americana with a twist.

Throughout Gaga’s stardom, she has encouraged her fans creativity. There is a tradition of fan cakes referencing Gaga costumes, and this continues. Bradley’s Baking Bible came up with this fun cake that nod to previous Gaga looks and tops them off with the new pink hat that she’s been wearing to write and promote Joanne.

Gaga’s pink hats are by Gladys Tamez, and are tweaked versions of her hats named for iconic women—Marianne Faithfull and Bianca Jagger.

#Joanne is here! We’re celebrating every @ladygaga album right back to #TheFame in our #LittleMonsters Cake! ⚡️ Video link in the bio! 💃

A photo posted by Bradley’s Baking Bible (@bradleysbakingbible) on

Processing Don Giovanni

The programme booklet for Opera Theatre Company's Don Giovanni

The programme booklet for Opera Theatre Company’s Don Giovanni



Mozart’s Don Giovanni seems to be everywhere this season: I know of three productions that happened around the same time (in Ireland: Opera Theatre Company; in England: the ENO; and in New York at the Metropolitan Opera). Most likely, it’s everywhere every year, since it’s a mainstay of opera repertoire. Perhaps all that is different is that I saw it this year when Opera Theatre Company brought their new production (with libretto by Roddy Doyle) to Cork Opera House.

The opera is about, as the ENO puts it, alpha male identity. (They even offered an all-male workshop to explore alpha masculinity: Being a Don.) Don Giovanni commits sexual assault, rape, and murder, and uses his status and charming manner to get away with it for most of the opera. As Bonnie Gordon puts it, the ‘parallels between the two Dons [the titular character and a certain presidential candidate] are too obvious to state.’ A statue drags the operatic Don to hell at the end; the other one appears is getting away with it. (In fact, it might be one of the elements of his campaign that made him successful.)

I’m still processing the version I saw in Cork—particularly the disturbing audience reactions that might have been encouraged by the librettist’s word choices. Other elements of that production seem to be part of a phenomenon that Micaela Baranello noted: a proliferation of ‘depictions of sexual violence against women’. Baranello observes:

As any “Game of Thrones” fan knows, the horrors of rape apparently cannot be conveyed without its suspiciously frequent and detailed depiction. The problem with many of these scenes is that they generalize and make abstract an acutely painful and personal experience by co-opting individual trauma for symbolic currency. The sacrificial onstage woman, usually an actress or lady of the chorus rather than a principal character, is rarely given an identity and is discarded as soon as her illustrative role is complete.

This happened at least once in the OTC production. At least. While Don Giovanni’s assaults took place off stage (as far as I remember), after Zerlina and Masetto’s wedding celebrations had moved to Don Giovanni’s place, there was a staging of a sexual assault by a man chorus member of a woman chorus member; they were both supposed to be drunk.

The audience laughter made me uncomfortable right from the opening scene. In this staging, Donna Anna sang from halfway up a rolling platform ladder while Don Giovanni straddled (and yes, I am using that word on purpose) a pommel horse. There was no physical contact, but Donna Anna’s words were fending off an attack. The first laugh came when Don Giovanni called Donna Anna a slapper. I suppose it was not what one expects to hear in that environment. The audience laughed again in scene three as Donna Anna told Don Ottavio of Don Giovanni’s attempted rape. Did they understand what was happening? Was it the incongruity of the language that prompted laughter? And … does it matter what the librettist’s intention was? My colleague and opera buddy Dr Jillian Rogers and I discussed this during the interval and concluded that, whether Roddy Doyle intended it or not, his word choices prompted behaviour that encouraged members of the audience to ally themselves with dominant cultural values that subordinate and dismiss women. The laughter appeared to be against the woman. For a surprisingly and disturbingly large percentage of the audience, Donna Anna’s experience of assault was funny.

The audience laughter reminded me of the 2009 incident in Tralee when an assault survivor sat in a public gallery, supported by a Garda and a friend, and watched as fifty people, mostly men, from her community lined up to shake the hand of her convicted rapist before his sentencing.

A large number of the giggles in the opera house were women’s voices. I was surprised at that, but I shouldn’t have been. In truth, there is a long history of women supporting patriarchy. In fact, that is what appears to have happened in the US election. Somehow, 53% of white women voters supported the candidate who bragged about assaulting women. They considered protecting white privilege more important than misogyny.

Those interested in hearing more about what feminist musicologists make of Don Giovanni (including Gordon and Baranello) will want to watch the panel discussion that Prof. Ellie Hisama organized at Columbia University as part of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender & Sexuality’s series Feminist to the Core. Prof. Hisama kindly arranged for the panel discussion to be live-streamed and recorded.


Hisama, Gordon and Baranello also spoke on these issues at the joint meeting of the American Musicological Society and the Society for Music Theory in a panel chaired by Suzanne Cusick on Sexual Violence On Stage: How Musicologists Promote Resistance in the Twenty-First Century. Richard Will and Monica Hershberger joined them. Paula Higgins is working on this topic; you can read her abstract for a spoken talk.


Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Funding Schemes Open

The Irish Research Council has opened several postdoctoral funding schemes: the Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme offers 1 or 2 year fellowships (you cannot apply for both); and the first call for the CAROLINE (Collaborative Research Fellowships for a Responsive and Innovative Europe) scheme which is part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Cofund Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme. Both schemes are open to researchers across all academic disciplines.

The CAROLINE scheme seeks “research relevant to the themes of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for shared economic prosperity, social development, and environmental protection” and includes intersectoral collaboration between academic institutions, NGOs, and international organisations.

The Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowships are for people who had “fulfilled all the requirements for the award of a doctoral degree, including a viva/thesis defence, within the five-year period between 31st March 2012 and 31st March 2017.” CAROLINE is aimed at “experienced researchers … defined as those who are in possession of a doctoral degree or have at least four years of full-time equivalent research experience.”

Applicants must apply by 30 November 2016. If you’re interested in one of these schemes, please get in touch with your intended host institution and intended mentor/scientist-in-charge soon as host institutions will have internal deadlines for reviewing drafts and completing the necessary endorsement paperwork.