Past Lecture Series

2016-17 Lecture Series
2015-16 Lecture Series
2014-15 Lecture Series
2013-14 Lecture Series
2012-13 Lecture Series
2011-12 Lecture Series
2010-11 Lecture Series

The 2016-17 Lecture Series:

Dr. Harald Kisiedu (International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, Memorial University of Newfoundland)

"Like A Cry You Wanted to Answer": Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and the Rise of Jazz Experimentalism in East Germany

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 7:30 p.m.

This talk illuminates the rise of jazz experimentalism in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) with a focus on one of its major proponents: multi-reedist and improviser Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky. Petrowsky’s engagement with post-1950s jazz practices took place within the context of politico-aesthetic debates that were decisively shaped by the Cultural Cold War. Focusing on the conditions of production in a state socialist system, this talk will explore the difficulties Petrowsky and other jazz experimentalists faced under the ideological constraints imposed by GDR cultural policy makers during the height of the Cold War. This talk will also reconstruct the critical reception of post-war jazz in the GDR and discuss Petrowsky’s engagement with African American experimentalism during the 1960s.


Dr. Matthew Rahaim (University of Minnesota)

Struck by the Arrow: Listening, Voice, and Ethical Virtue in North India

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 7:30 p.m.

A rich cluster of texts, from 12th century sufi apologia to 20th century marketing materials, surrounds Indian vocal practice: cosmopolitan Islamicate models of musical healing, yogic descriptions of sonic liberation, Chisti prescriptions for spiritual listening, and nationalist desires for moral reform through music education. The power of vocal performance, then, is not merely a matter of notes, but of ethical dispositions (tenderness, patience, and many others.) Drawing on years of ethnography and vocal practice, this talk surveys some of the ways in which these cherished virtues are nurtured and contested through circuits of vocal action and active listening.


Dr. Ian Sutherland (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

Of Conducting, Choirs and Executive Power: Aesthetic Reflexivity to Memories with Momentum

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 7:30 p.m.

This talk rolls up key ideas that have developed across a number of studies looking at how the arts, primarily music, are being used in leadership development around the world. Working from an experiential learning foundation, the talk will discuss the role of aesthetic reflexivity, aesthetic workspaces and memories with momentum in situations where people learn with and through the arts. As an exemplary case study, the talk will revolve around extensive observational and interview data into choral conducting masterclasses and emergent insights into the aesthetics of power and powering.


Dr. Steven Friedson (University of North Texas)

The Music Box: Songs of Futility in a Time of Torture

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 7:30 p.m.

Music deployed in the service of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the putative “Global War on Terror” routinely subjected detainees to musical bombardment at high decibel levels over extended periods of time. Here musical experiences hold no agency—detainees don’t have a say in the matter. This lack of agency has resonance with my work on music ontologies of spirit possession in Africa, where those possessed claim not to be there at all. This talk brings these limit experiences, situated at the opposite ends of a continuum, into close proximity, revealing an ontological inversion. Instead of totally being-away as with spirit possession, detainees are totally there, unable to escape sensory overload of a magnitude we can barely imagine.


Dr. Katharine Young (Independent Scholar)

Scrape, Brush, Flick: The Phenomenology of Sound

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 7:30 p.m.

The audible world is at once episodic and pervasive, outside and inside the body, impalpable and felt in the bones. Each sense brings forth its own world and yet, as Maurice Merleau-Ponty points out, all the senses open out onto the same world. The senses are synaesthetic, each sense conducting us to the others; the world is intersensorial, each thing offering a different self to each sense. This resonant incommensurability of the senses gives perception its depth, its richness, its inexhaustibility. Drawing on her work on folklore and aesthetics, the anthropology of the senses, and phenomenology, this talk will examine the sensual experience of perception and sound.


An archive of a number of our past lectures can be found on our YouTube channel.


Music, Media and Culture Lecture Series 2015-2016

Dr. David Gere (UCLA, Art & Global Health Center)

Can Art Save Lives?

Thursday, September 17, 2015 (7:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.)

The Art & Global Health Center, founded by David Gere a decade ago at the University of California – Los Angeles, is premised upon the notion that the arts possess the ability to save lives, not literally by healing illness—in the biological sense—but by shifting the conditions that cause illness to flourish. This particular notion of art’s life-saving potential derives from Douglas Crimp, the New York art critic who, in the midst of the AIDS epidemic of the late 1980s, wrote in frustration about the celebration of beautiful or elegiac works of art meant to affirm our humanity, rather than the creation of works of activist art intended to stop the epidemic. “We don’t need to transcend the epidemic,” wrote Crimp, “we need to end it.” In this talk, Gere discusses Crimp’s bluntly utilitarian theory of art’s potential and uses it to lay out a taxonomy of ways in which the arts can change the world.


Dr. Mark Douglas Turner (Memorial University)

Cinema and Space in Newfoundland and Labrador

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 (7:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.)

How do we begin to speak of a Newfoundland and Labrador cinema? Does it even exist before the Jones Brothers’ The Adventure of Faustus Bidgood? Is there such a thing as a Newfoundland and Labrador cinema? Are there features which unify the practice of film in this province? My presentation considers these questions in an attempt to understand Newfoundland and Labrador cinema as something rooted as much in space as it is in time.


Dr. Helena Simonett (Vanderbilt University)

The Accordion on New Shores

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 (7:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.)

The accordion and its myriad forms—from the concertina and the button accordion to the sanfoninha and the bandoneón—has spread and taken roots across many cultures. Branded as “the little man’s ‘piano,’” it became a medium for popular folk music in numerous regions of the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The accordion was thriving among the less affluent because it was complete “a one-man-band,” capable to providing melody, harmony and bass at once; it was also loud and durable and, therefore, ideal for outdoor performances. No other instruments has provoked so many scornful jokes, yet the accordion’s distinctive sounds have touched millions of people, stirred up passions and soothed pain.


Emma Broomfield (Choir with No Name, London UK)

Homelessness Arts: Improving Wellbeing Through Singing

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 (7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.)

The event will feature live performances by local musicians (TBA).

Choir with No Name is a UK charity whose members are leaders in the field of homelessness arts. Starting with one choir in 2008 it now has 4 choirs around the UK and works with over 400 vulnerable and disadvantaged people a year. Founded on the premise that singing makes you feel good, its vision is simply to give people a place where they can belong and sing their hearts out. Through weekly rehearsals and regular performance opportunities Choir with No Name aims to help as many homeless and marginalized people as possible to beat loneliness and build their confidence and skills. Drawing on the experiences of setting up and running the choirs over the past 8 years, this talk will consider how singing can have a positive and powerful impact on the wellbeing of vulnerable people.

The talk will be followed by a roundtable discussion on Singing and Social Change (Panelists TBA). Please note that this event will begin at 7:00 P.M.


Dr. Atesh Sonneborn (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)

“What’s a museum going to do with a record label?” The Story of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 (7:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.)

The mission of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings since the U.S. national museum’s 1987 acquisition of Folkways Records and Service Corporation was fundamentally shaped by a promise made to Moses Asch, founder of the legendary label. He produced an album a week for nearly 40 years, all 2,168 of which will be kept publicly available by the Smithsonian Institute in perpetuity, as per the conditions of the acquisition. In this talk, Dr. Sonneborn will share the extraordinary creation story of Asch’s encyclopedia of sound. Tales from three decades of stewardship unfold Asch’s failures and triumphs, as well as the juicy arguments, as the lecture reflects on the very idea that underlies the question, “What's a museum going to do with a record label?”


MMaP Lecture Series 2014 -2015

Dr. Kiri Miller (Brown University)

Dance Games and Body Work

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 (4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.)

Digital dance games like Dance Central and Just Dance teach players full-body choreography routines set to popular club music, providing real-time feedback driven by a motion-sensing interface. These games offer a new channel for the transmission of embodied knowledge, and for indexing that knowledge through popular music. Game choreographers translate song into dance; players learn to feel out music with their bodies as choreographers do. Many players post videos of their performances online, as well as engaging in vigorous debates about the choreography for each song. Drawing on analysis of online discourse and interviews with players and game designers, this talk addresses dance games as the staging grounds for emergent forms of gender performance, multisensory interactivity, and participatory culture.


Dr. Kip Pegley (Queen’s University)

The Work of Music at the Canadian War Museum

Thursday, October 16, 2014 (7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Auditorium, Bruneau Centre)

Why consider the role of music at the Canadian War Museum? Sound, including music, is not what comes to mind when thinking about this museum, or indeed any museum. But I argue here that the soundscape is as important to the museum’s message as the visual artifacts. All museums, of course, influence public opinion, but this agenda is particularly critical at war museums, especially during times of geopolitical conflict. In this presentation I explore how sound at the museum contributes to a compelling and particular narrative of Canadian history designed to persuade visitors that Canadians are singular, that we have been critically needed on the international scene to defend against dangerous (and changing) enemies, and that we should and will continue to play an important international role as combatants, thus justifying the government's decisions to send its military into dangerous—and highly controversial—conflict zones. Co-sponsored with the Department of Sociology, MUN.


Dr. Ingrid Monson (Harvard University)

From Freedom Sounds to Senufo Sounds: Social Vision and Improvisation in a Global World

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 (7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)

Drawing on my work on jazz, race, and politics in the United States, I compare and contrast the social meanings of improvisation in jazz during the Civil Rights Era and music in Mali before and after the coup d’etat of 2012. My work on Malian balafonist Neba Solo, serves as a basis for thinking through the similarities and differences in the social and ethical impact of improvisation in the 21st- century world.


Dr. Aaron McKim (Clinical Chief for long term care in Eastern Newfoundland; family doctor practicing in Portugal Cove-St Phillips)

Tuned In: Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Roundtable on Health

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 (7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)


Dr. Jane Gosine (Music, Memorial University)


Dr. Fern Brunger (Health Care Ethics, Memorial University)

This panel discusses on-going research on the impact that cultural dimensions of expression, belief and experience have on human health and well-being. Two panelists present work with music in relation to memory, mobility, and psychological marginalization. The third reports on Aboriginal approaches to health, approaches that raise important issues for biomedical practitioners as well as those in anthropology, ethnomusicology or other social sciences.


Dr. Gavin Douglas (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 (7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)

The Sound of Political Change in Myanmar

The past two decades have witnessed tremendous political unrest in Burma/Myanmar. Minority separatist movements, economic stagnation, chronic detention of political prisoners and a multitude of other obstacles have plagued the history of this once prosperous nation. Focusing on a wide variety of cases, supplemented by numerous audio and video examples, this presentation questions what role music has played in this tumultuous history. Not simply reflective of society, the role of music in Myanmar’s politics is not neutral but has been tied to the policies of the oppressing dictatorship and the pro-democracy resistance movements. From national unity festivals to monastic revolutions and from education policy to pro-democracy Internet campaigns, music has been a tool to both justify oppression and demand liberation and has been an active force in Myanmar’s struggles.


MMaP Lecture Series 2013-2014

Acoustic Ecology Symposium

September 28 (9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)

Co-sponsored by the School of Music, this one-day event will include presentations by scholars from Memorial, York, Cape Breton and Concordia Universities. The topics include non-human sound production, industrial soundscapes, environmental issues in musical instrument manufacture, and musics that imitate place-based sound.

Keynote: Dr. Andra McCartney (Communications Studies, Concordia University).

10:45 – 12:30 p.m. Memorial string-of-pearls soundwalk.

Symposium participants will do a soundwalk with Andra McCartney, beginning from the symposium site. Rain or shine (bring an umbrella and walking shoes). The walk will have several moments, strung together like pearls: discussions of listening experiences, tactics and strategies; individual, small and large group walking; reflection and response.

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Listening filters and standpoints

How do disciplinary routines channel listening in different ways? How can thinking about listening generate opportunities for fertile talk across disciplines? Andra McCartney will introduce and discuss two examples of sound recordings as a way to think about how listening is situated, channelled, and mixed, basing the discussion on contemporary research about interpretive communities as well as conversations with listeners during soundwalk/listening events.


Dr. Line Grenier (Communication, Université de Montréal).

Moments of music in action: Exploring the effectivity of Québec’s Étoile des Aînés/Senior Stars

October 23 (7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)

In this talk Line Grenier explores intersections of aging and popular music in the context of a global demographic shift to “an aging society” and governmental discourses and policies around “active aging.” I do so by drawing on an ongoing collaborative, multi-sited, ethnography-based pilot project on Étoile des aînés/Senior Stars, an annual ‘music talent’ contest in Québec organized since 2008 by Chartwell-Reit, one of the most important investors in the seniors housing market in North America. Its aim is to examine the effectivity of Étoile des aînés as music in action (De Nora, 2004), as an event where memory work takes place, “call[ing] to mind the collective nature of the activity of remembering” as it connects “’public historical events, structures of feeling, family dramas, relations of class, national identity, gender, and ‘personal’ memory.” (Kuhn, 2007, 232).


Dr. Ivan Emke (Social and Cultural Studies, Memorial University, Grenfell)

From Outports to Netports: Community Media and Shared Identity in Rural Newfoundland and Beyond

January 7 (7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)

It has been argued that the tools we use to communicate can influence the kind of community that we can create. In an age dominated by large urban media, how can a rural community construct and affirm its identity? Where does it get to tell its own stories? In this province, there has been a tradition of appreciating the link between the use of locally-focussed communications technologies and the construction and celebration of rural community life, from CBC’s Fisheries Broadcast to MUN’s Extension Services. This presentation will reflect on community media projects that use low-power FM radio, sometimes linked with the internet and webcasting. It will offer stories of the media events themselves interwoven with broader theories around communication, technology, community and identity.


Dr. Louise Meintjes (Music, Duke University)

Dancing Around Disease: Zulu ngoma in a time of AIDS

March 4 (7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)

When confronted with diminishing capacities that represent a compromised social life -- whether of individual relationships or of a men's ngoma song and dance team -- how do men perform their responsibilities to other men? How do singer-dancers manage the necessity of caring for their fellow team mates in the presence of an HIV stigma that pushes their relationships to the limit? I present this case study to reflect on Africanist analyses of the performance arts in relation to HIV/AIDS.


MMaP Lecture Series 2012-2013

Dr. Benjamin Brinner (University of California - Berkeley)

Perspectives on the “Inter” in Intercultural: Israeli/Arab/Palestinian/Jewish Musical Collaborations

Monday, September 24

Drawing on and extending the analyses in his recent book Playing Across a Divide: Israeli-Palestinian Musical Encounters, Ben Brinner will speak about the understandings that musicians create in joint musical explorations that venture into terrain that has no clear cultural underpinning, yet is enmeshed in several socio-cultural worlds. These worlds differ in their assumptions about music, aesthetics, professionalism, and the political uses of art. How then do musicians working together on intercultural projects navigate these differences? Where are their obstacles and points of friction? What are the synergies that emerge from their collaborations? Focusing on the Bustan Quartet and its precursor, Bustan Abraham, this lecture follows a twenty-year arc in the lives of some of Israel’s leading creators and performers of “world music.”


Dr. Sherry Johnson (York University)

“Dancing from the Heart”: Interpreting Music in Ottawa Valley Step Dancing

Thursday, November 8

Donnie Gilchrist (1925-1984), known as the father of Ottawa Valley step dancing, was renowned for his ability to interpret music. When dancing solo, he never performed formalized “steps,” but improvised movements in relation to the music; one of his former students calls it “dancing from the heart.” By contrast, many of today’s young Ottawa Valley step dancers are criticized for not dancing to their fiddlers’ music. While blatant timing errors are seldom a problem, even some dancers who compete at the highest levels are admonished for a lack of internal feel for musical rhythm. At one level, this has to do with how steps are structured in relation to the structure of fiddle tunes. More recently, however, there has been renewed interest in matching the rhythm of particular fiddle tunes kinaesthetically. In this presentation Sherry Johnson examines how two renowned Ottawa Valley step dancers – Donnie Gilchrist and Nathan Pilatzke (b. 1970) – use structural and rhythmic elements to interpret fiddle tunes. She contextualizes this analysis with an overview of the changing relationship between step dancing and fiddle music in central Canada’s Ottawa Valley tradition.


Dr. Meghan Forsyth (Memorial University)

Creative Currents: Innovation and Tradition in Island Acadian Music

Tuesday, February 12

From new compositions to stylistic flexibility, innovation has emerged as a defining element of contemporary Island Acadian musical traditions on and off the public stage. But old and new forms of musical expression hang in a delicate balance, at one and the same time lauded and contested. Drawing on examples from Prince Edward Island and les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Meghan Forsyth considers the social and artistic value placed on innovation in contemporary fiddling and francophone song traditions. She posits that global influences and local discourses about tradition and creativity inform how Acadian music is presented locally and to cultural outsiders, such as tourists and festival organizers, and how it reflects musicians’ connections to and expressions of historical memory.


Dr. Sean Williams (Evergreen State College)

Crossing the Divide: Hinduism and Islam in Sundanese Music

Tuesday, March 19

The Sundanese people of West Java, Indonesia are known in that nation as conservative Muslims. Yet their musical forms (over two hundred genres) defy that label; many of the main genres lean heavily on Hindu and animist stories, traditions, and musical materials. In the genre of tembang Sunda – the most aristocratic of any genre in the region – a combination of influences from different eras in Sundanese history connect contemporary Muslim musicians and audience members with their Hindu and animist past. Comprising a large zither, small zither, bamboo flute, and singer, the tembang Sunda ensemble is intended for an intimate audience of insiders. They know the words, they understand the context, and most of them are singers or musicians themselves. Because tembang Sunda is considered a powerful link to the rural past, the urban Islamic conservatism of its audience is suspended during an evening’s performance. This sense of simultaneous suspension and engagement creates a type of sacred space that lasts for most of the night. This talk will feature two songs; one explicitly Hindu in content, and another specifically Muslim. By examining the two songs in context, Sean Williams will explore the ways in which the music can transcend boundaries of space, time, and religion.


MMaP Lecture Series 2011-2012

Dr. Sherrie Tucker (University of Kansas)

"Torquing Back: Alternative Spins on Jitterbug Memory, Dance Floor Democracy, and the Hollywood Canteen”

Wednesday, October 12 @ 7:30pm

Sherrie Tucker, Associate Professor of American Studies, University of Kansas, is the author of Swing Shift: All-Girl Bands of the 1940s (Duke, 2000), and co-editor, with Nichole T. Rustin, of Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies (Duke, 2008). She is currently completing a book entitled Dance Floor Democracy: the Social Geography of Memory at the Hollywood Canteen (supported by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities). She is a member of the Improvisation, Gender, and the Body team for Ajay Heble’s Collaborative Research Initiative funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, entitled, "Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice."


Dr. Chris Tonelli (Memorial University)

“Pastiche as Event: Theorizing Imitation in Recorded Popular Music”

Monday, November 7 @ 7:30pm

Chris Tonelli completed his graduate work in the Critical Studies and Experimental Practices in Music Program at the University of California, San Diego and has taught at the New Zealand School of Music. His research interests include theorization of the voice, transnational flows of music between North America and Japan, reception theory, whiteness and masculinity, and improvisation. He is currently visiting Assistant Professor at the MUN School of Music.


Dr. Brian Cherwick

"From Polka to Pow Wow: The Ukrainian Recording Industry in Winnipeg"

Tuesday, February 7 @ 7:30pm

Brian Cherwick specializes in the musical traditions of Ukrainians in both the Ukrainian diaspora and in Ukraine. He has taught at the University of Alberta and Athabasca University and has worked as a researcher for the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village museum and as a Music Specialist with Edmonton Public Schools. His research interests include ethnic identity, performance studies, the ethnic music industry, material culture and oral history. His recent work documented historic leather trades in east central Alberta. He has performed throughout North America and Europe and his compositions have been broadcast on four continents and even featured on Hockey Night in Canada.


Dr. Dylan Robinson (Royal Holloway, University of London)

“Reconciliation’s Senses”

Monday, March 26 @ 7:30pm

Dylan Robinson is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he is part of the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project. Recent projects include “The Aesthetics of Reconciliation in Canada,” a study of the role that the arts play at the Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and dramaturgical development of a new opera with mezzo-soprano Marion Newman (Kwagiulth) and composer Anna Höstman based on contemporary and historical interactions between the Nuxalk First Peoples and Norwegian settlers in the Bella Coola area of British Columbia.


MMaP Lecture Series 2010-2011

Dr. Ellen Waterman (Memorial University)

“Improvising Bodies, Sites of Resistance: Adaptive Use of Musical Instruments for the Physically Challenged”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 7:30 p.m


Dr. Rob Bowman (York University)

“The Determining Role of Performance in the Articulation of Meaning: The Case Study of 'Try a Little Tenderness’”

Monday, November 8, 2010 7:30 p.m


Dr. Stephen Wild (Australia National University), Dr. Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco (New University of Lisbon – FCSH), Dr. Beverley Diamond (Memorial University)

Panel: “Differing National Perspectives on Contemporary Ethnomusicology”

Thursday, December 2, 2010 7:30 p.m


Dr. Georgina Born (Oxford University)

“The Future of the BBC? Pros and Cons of Cultural Institutions”

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 7:30 p.m


Dr. Jane Gosine (Memorial University)

“The Effect of Distinct Social and Physical Environments on the Compositions of Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704)”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 7:30 p.m


Music, Media and Place

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Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000