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Music, Sound and Trauma Conference

Fri 12 February 2021

TL’s Michelle Meinhart collaborates with Indiana University and State University of New York to unite over 600 scholars, musicians and mental health practitioners from around the world.

Music, Sound and Trauma: Interdisciplinary Perspectives is a free three-day virtual conference of presentations, panel discussions, performances, workshops and keynotes taking place from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 February 2021.

The conference brings together over 100 presenters and 500 attendees from fields of scholarship, performance and health to examine the role of sound and music in inflicting trauma, how sound and music are used to express trauma, and their role in recovery.

With such a broad remit, topics for submitted papers include everything from #blacklivesmatter and the Covid-19 pandemic to eighteenth-century listening practices and caesareans in colonial South Africa to the Holocaust and Blitz air raid shelters.

Funded by an Indiana University Art and Humanities Conference Hosting Grant,  the conference has grown out of the ongoing collaboration between Trinity Laban Academic Studies Lecturer Dr Michelle Meinhart and Assistant Professors of Music Jill Rogers (Indiana University) and Dr Erin Brooks (SUNY, Potsdam). Previously, the specialists have shared their work at annual conferences of the Royal Musical Association and American Musicological Society.

Michelle and Jill have also edited a special issue for Nineteenth-Century Music Review which includes articles on a range of topics from music and shell shock treatment during the First World War to Irish diaspora in the US during the US Civil War.

Originally envisioned as an in-person event, the Music, Sound and Trauma conference has pivoted to an online format due to the ongoing pandemic. Michelle comments –

“We are disappointed to not be able to meet presenters in person, but this virtual format has had many advantages; I’m certain we would not have had the immense response from people all over the world if it had not been all online. I think the interest in the conference is also due to such immense interest in trauma nowadays – not just among academics but also amongst the general public.”

The conference serves as a gathering forum for future publications Michelle and her colleagues have in the works, including an Oxford Handbook on Music, Sound and Trauma and a special issue on trauma-informed teaching for the Journal of Music History Pedagogy.

At the conference, Michelle will present her paper ‘Contractions, Calls, and Cries during COVID: The Traumatic Soundscapes of Lockdown UK Hospital Maternity Wards’. An expanded version of the article is due to be published next year in a special issue of Women and Music that she is co-editing with Durham University’s Erin Johnson-Williams. Building on this, Michelle and Erin are applying for AHRC funding to form a research network around sound, trauma and maternity.

Michelle Meinhart headshot

Michelle joined Trinity Laban’s Faculty of Music in 2017 and teaches on a variety of BMus, MMus, and FCM modules related to music, history and culture. A former Fulbright Scholar at Durham University, Michelle holds a PhD in musicology, with a cognate in British literature, and has worked as a professional pianist and piano teacher. Michelle’s research focuses on music and memory in Britain from the nineteenth century to today, with special attention to trauma, gender and print culture.

Discover more on our Research pages.


Image: Matrilinear #13 (credit Elizabeth M. Claffey)