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Music, Trauma, and Spaces of Healing in First-World-War Britain - 18. Juni 2024 - 16.15 Uhr

Kleiner Seminarraum AR B-2320 der Universität Siegen


Michelle Meinhart, PhD, MMus, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, London

This lecture conceptualizes music on the British home front in the First World War within notions of loss, resilience, recovery, and remembrance, considering both the action of music-making as well as music’s role in narratives about overcoming trauma. Music’s use in the mobilization of care will be the main focal point, particularly in hospitals on the home front, in which I place music within the British military’s treatment environments and regimes that varied according to soldier rank and subsequently, class—for example, in the treatment of shell shock for officers. However, civilians and soldiers, and women and men alike documented the importance of music in navigating the intense emotions of anxiety, loss, and grief that the war engendered. Such uses and accounts of music during the war, when contextualised within contemporary understandings of shell shock, neurasthenia, and mourning, and interrogated within theory from trauma studies – particularly Judith Herman’s idea of ‘testimony’, Jeffrey Alexander’s concept of ‘cultural trauma’, and Bessel van der Kolk’s emphasis on embodiment – illuminates how the effects of militarism and trauma were processed through musical language and practice.

Dr Michelle Meinhart is a Lecturer, Module Leader, and Programme Tutor at Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London, UK and holds a Senior Fellowship of the UK Higher Education Academy. She also teaches on Dartmouth College’s and Rhodes College’s (both in the USA) foreign study programmes in London. Her research focuses on sound, memory, gender, narrative, and trauma in Britain from the 19th century through today. Her publications include the forthcoming edited volume A Great Divide? Music, Britain and the First World War (Routledge) and articles in The Journal of Musicological Research, Nineteenth-Century Music Review, Women and Music, and The Journal of the Royal Musical Association, as well as chapters in various edited collections. She has recently co-edited a special issue on music, sound and trauma entitled “Music, War and Trauma in the Long Nineteenth Century” for Nineteenth-Century Music Review and a special issue on music, sound, and maternity for Women and Music. She is currently co-editing The Oxford Handbook of Music, Sound, and Trauma Studies (2 volumes, 2027). Her research has been funded by the US-UK Fulbright Commission, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association of University Women, and the Music and Letters Trust.

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