Associate Professor, Music History/Musicology
BMus University of Texas at Austin
MA Duke University
PhD Harvard University
Roe-Min Kok specializes in Robert and Clara Schumann, nineteenth-century European concepts of childhood and children’s music in domesticity, and music colonialism in global history (including western art music in non-western/ postcolonial/ colonial settings, imperial music educational systems, and decolonizing initiatives). Underlying her work is a fundamental curiosity about socio-cultural frameworks through which music is created, received, understood, and discussed. She employs a wide assortment of methods ranging from philology to critical cultural theories on race, gender, and class in pursuing answers to the query: “To what questions can this musical work— or other music phenomena—provide answers?” Ongoing projects include a monograph on music and domestic politics in the Schumann household; the volume Clara and Robert Schumann in Context (with Joe Davies); The Oxford Handbook of Music Colonialism (with Erin Johnson-Williams and Yvonne Liao); and a major revision of the entry “Robert Schumann” in the Oxford/ Grove Music Online. Kok has also written many articles, chapters, and reviews (for selected publications, see list below). Her essay, “Music for a Postcolonial Child” (2006, reprinted 2011)—an analysis of her coming-of-age experiences learning Western art music in a former British colony—received five requests for republication and was featured on BBC Radio 4. The New York Times interviewed her for the Clara Schumann Bicentennial 2019; more recently, she was invited to speak with WQXR (New York classical radio station) about current trends in music scholarship.
A member of the Editorial Boards of the Journal of the American Musicological Society (JAMS, U.S.A.), Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, and Rivista Chigiana (Italy), Kok has served as a peer reviewer for book publishers (Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Routledge, W. W. Norton) as well as journals (JAMS, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Women & Music, Journal of Musicology, Music & Letters, Twentieth-Century Music). Conferences at which she has presented papers and chaired sessions include the American Musicological Society, International Musicological Society, International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, Society for Ethnomusicology, Royal Musical Association, Gesellschaft für Musikforschung, and German Studies Association; and themed conferences in Italy, Greece, Germany, U.K., and U.S.A. Invited to colloquia and symposia in South Africa, Brazil, U.S.A., U.K., Germany, Switzerland, and Canada, Kok has received major research grants from numerous agencies including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC Canada), British Academy (U.K.), and Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (Germany). Recently awarded a SSHRC Insight Grant (2020-24), she has been elected a Visiting Fellow at St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford.
Kok has contributed in many ways to the professional community. She is on the program committee of the international conference “Music and Spirituality since the French Revolution” (Siena, Italy) and chairs the adjudicating committee of the H. Robert Cohen/ RIPM publication award offered by the American Musicological Society (AMS). As a result of interest generated by her research, a Study Group on Childhood and Youth was founded at AMS in 2020, partly under her mentorship. A former Co-Chair for the AMS Committee for Cultural Diversity, she has also served as an elected Member-at-Large and Nominations Committee Member of the Society’s Council, and on the Interdisciplinary Initiatives Committee in the German Studies Association. At McGill University she became the first woman and first visible minority to serve as Chair of the Department of Music Research, comprising 40 faculty members in six music subfields, 40-70 adjunct instructors, and 40-80 Teaching Assistants (2015-2018). She successfully led the Department through an external review, recruited new faculty members, improved graduate student funding, and steered the Department through the unionization of adjunct instructors. She is a former Vice-Chair of McGill’s Committee on Staff Grievances and Disciplinary Procedures, the university-wide community court.
An advocate for social and distributive justice, Kok pioneered scholarly subfields that give voice to underrepresented ideas and repertoire: i) Childhood and children’s music; and ii) Colonialism’s role in the spread and practice of Western art music worldwide. In 2017, she designed a course titled “Music and Colonialism,” and has since taught it regularly at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She helped develop a multidisciplinary course on global citizenship for all McGill students. Alongside teaching topics on Western art music, she offers courses that foster reflection on contemporary injustices and inequities in the music industry and in music scholarship, brought about by historical reasons including colonialism.
As a graduate supervisor, Kok believes in honing independent, original, and creative ideas; critical thinking skills; good judgement and informed opinions; a solid base of information; and precise writing. A selection of theses and dissertations completed under her supervision reveals her openness to a wide range of topics alongside her commitment to helping students realize their own ideas: Transcultural Aesthetics in the Music of Tōru Takemitsu; A Postcolonial Analysis of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra; Governing the Moscow Conservatory, 1889-1905; Gender Transitivity in Robert Schumann’s Female Dramatic Characters; Sistema in the News: Exploring Media Coverage of Sistema-Inspired Programs in Montreal and Kahnawà:ke; Rearticulating Scarlatti in the Context of Nationalism: Folklore and Neoclassicism in Granados and de Falla; Sephardic Influences in the Liturgy of Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews of London; and Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Between the Notes.
If you are a prospective graduate student with similar research interests and beliefs, please get in touch. Kok’s supervisees have successfully secured funding from, among others, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture; Sir Edward Youde Foundation (Hong Kong, PRC); the National Arts Council of Singapore; and McGill University’s Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Office.
- October 2021
SELECTED PUBLICATIONS (for ongoing projects, see above)
Schumann, in The Early Romantic Composers Series, Routledge, 2019.
Rethinking Schumann (with Laura Tunbridge), Oxford University Press, 2011.
Musical Childhoods and the Cultures of Youth (with Susan Boynton), Wesleyan University Press, 2006.
Editions of Music
Neue Robert Schumann Ausgabe III/1/4: Klavierwerke 4. Kreisleriana Op. 16, Schott-Verlag, 2016.
Felix Mendelssohn, Herr Gott, dich loben wir, Carus-Verlag, 1996 (republished 2008).
“Clara – Robert’s Posthumous Androgyne,” in Clara Schumann Studies, ed. Joe Davis, Cambridge University Press, in press.
“Robert Schumann’s Choral Music,” in Nineteenth-Century Choral Music, ed. Donna Di Grazia, Routledge, 2013, pp. 150-68.
“Who was Mignon? What was she? Popular Catholicism and Schumann’s Requiem Op. 98b,” in Rethinking Schumann, ed. Roe-Min Kok and Laura Tunbridge, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 88-108.
“Music for a Postcolonial Child: Theorizing Malaysian Memories,” in Musical Childhoods and the Cultures of Youth, ed. Susan Boynton and Roe-Min Kok, Wesleyan University Press, 2006, pp. 89-104. Reprinted in Learning, Teaching, and Musical Identity: Voices across Cultures, ed. Lucy Green, Indiana University Press, 2011, pp. 73-90.
[Accepted article], Postcolonial Studies Journal (forthcoming).
“Negotiating Children’s Music: New Evidence for Schumann’s ‘Charming’ Late Style,” Acta musicologica LXXX/1 (2008): 99-128.
“Falling Asleep: Schumann, Lessing and Death in a Wunderhorn Lullaby.” Studien zur Wertungsforschung 48 (2007): 236-72. Special issue “Verwandlungsmusik: Über komponierte Transfigurationen,” ed. Andreas Dorschel. Reprinted in Schumann, in The Early Romantic Composers Series, Routledge, 2019.
“Of Kindergarten, Cultural Nationalism and Schumann’s Album for the Young,” the world of music 48/1 (2006): 111-33. Special issue “Music and Childhood: Creativity, Socialization, and Representation,” ed. Amanda Minks.
Articles (invited, peer-reviewed)
“Is it Music for Small or Big Children? What the Sources Say,” in Festschrift für Bernhard R. Appel zum 65. Geburtstag, ed. Julia Ronge and Jens Dufner, Bonn 2015, pp. 47-59.
“Cortot’s Kreisleriana,” in Schumann interpretieren, ed. Jean-Jacques Dünki and Anette Müller, Studiopunkt Verlag, 2014, pp. 377-394.
“Fantasie C-Dur op. 17,” in Robert Schumann: Interpretation seiner Werke, ed. Helmut Loos, Laaber-Verlag, 2006, Vol. 1, pp. 99-105.
“‘Von fremden Ländern und Menschen …’ Western Classical Music, Colonialism and Identity Formation: A Case-Study in Southeast Asia.” In Musik und kulturelle Identität. Bericht des XIII. Internationalen Kongresses der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung 16.–21.9.2004 in Weimar. Ed. Detlef Altenburg and Rainer Bayreuther. 3 vols. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2012. Vol. 1, pp. 498-505. Reprinted online (Open Access), 2019.
“Schumann im anglophonen Kontext,” in Robert Schumann: Persönlichkeit, Werk und Wirkung: Bericht über die Internationale Musikwissenschaftliche Konferenz vom 22. bis 24. April 2010 in Leipzig, ed. Helmut Loos. Leipzig: Gudrun Schröder Verlag, 2011. Pp. 434-442.
“Family and Gender in Imaginative Children's Music.” Instrumental Music and the Industrial Revolution: International Conference Proceedings, Cremona, 1-3 July 2006. Eds. Roberto Illiano and Luca Sala. Bologna: Ut Orpheus Edizioni. Ad Parnassum Studies 5, 2010. Pp. 269-277.
“Märchen-Musik,” in Übergänge: Zwischen Künsten und Kulturen, Internationaler Kongress zum 150. Todesjahr von Heinrich Heine und Robert Schumann. Eds. Henriette Herwig, Volker Kalisch, Bernd Kortländer, Joseph A. Kruse and Bernd Witte. Stuttgart and Weimar: J.B. Metzler, 2007. Pp. 337-46.
“Fanny Hensel, Mignon and the Harper from the Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre.” Proceedings of the Sixth Annual Duke University Women’s Studies Conference, 1995.
“Klaviermusik (Gattung, musikalische),” 226-28; “Hilary Hahn,” 276; “Liza Lim,” 340-41; “Midori,” 368-69; “Younghi Pagh-Paan,” 425-26; “Miki Yui,” 533-34; in Lexikon Musik und Gender, eds. Annette Kreutziger-Herr and Melanie Unseld. Kassel and Stuttgart: Bärenreiter Metzler, 2010. Published online with additional reading lists, 2011.
“Journals” and “Women-Identified Music,” in Women and Music in America Since 1900: An Encyclopedia. Edited by Kristin Burns. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood-Heinemann Press, 2002. Respectively: Vol. 1, pp. 340-43; Vol. 2, pp. 674-676.
“Robert Schumann, Carnaval Op. 9 and Piano Sonata Op. 11.” CD liner notes for Evgeny Kissin. New York: RCA Victor Records, 2002.
“Ukulele,” “Mariachi Band,” “The Western Orchestra,” “Jazz Band,” “The ‘Ud,” and “Vocal Ensembles” in Soundscapes: Exploring Music in a Changing World. By Kay K. Shelemay. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001.
Alexander Stefaniak. Schumann’s Virtuosity: Criticism, Composition, and Performance in Nineteenth Century Germany. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016. Journal of the American Musicological Society 73 No. 1 (2020): 183-187.
Patricia Shehan Campbell, Songs in their Heads. 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Music & Letters 95/3 (2014): 499-502.
Erika Reiman. Schumann’s Piano Cycles and the Novels of Jean Paul. Rochester, New York and Suffolk, England: University of Rochester Press, 2004. 19th Century Music Review 2/2 (2005): 182-186.
John Daverio. Crossing Paths: Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Music & Letters 86/1 (February 2005): 135-139.