Associate Professor, Music History/Musicology
Department Chair, Music Research
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, and in investigating historical reasons for Western art music practices in non-Western/ postcolonial/ colonial settings. Underlying her work is a fundamental curiosity about 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 in pursuing solutions to the query: “To what questions can this musical work (or other music phenomena) provide answers?” Ongoing projects include a volume of essays on music and colonialism, a monograph on nineteenth-century European music and domesticity, and a study of Western art music in the former British Empire encompassing issues of globalization, post-colonialism, race, identity, and gender politics. Kok has authored many articles, book chapters and reviews. Book-length publications include Schumann in Routledge’s Early Romantic Composers Series (2019); Kreisleriana Op. 16 for the New Schumann Complete Critical Edition (Schott, 2016); Rethinking Schumann (Oxford University Press, 2011), and Musical Childhoods and the Cultures of Youth (Wesleyan University Press, 2006).
Kok has presented papers at meetings of the American Musicological Society, International Musicological Society, International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, Society for Ethnomusicology, Royal Musical Association, Gesellschaft für Musikforschung; themed conferences in Italy, Greece, Germany, U.K., and U.S.A; and at invited colloquia and symposia in U.S.A., U.K., Germany, Switzerland, and Canada. Her work has been supported by grants from numerous agencies including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada); British Academy (U.K.); and Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (Germany).
A member of the Editorial Boards of the Journal of the American Musicological Society (March 2019ff.) and the Journal for the History of Childhood and Youth, Kok has co-chaired the Committee for Cultural Diversity (American Musicological Society); served as a member of the Interdisciplinary Initiatives Committee (German Studies Association); and as a Member-at-Large, as well as Nominations Committee Member, of the Council of the American Musicological Society. At McGill University she became the first woman and first visible minority to serve as Department Chair in Music Research (2015-18). She successfully led the Department through an external review, recruiting new faculty members, improving graduate student funding, and guiding the Department through the unionization of adjunct staff members. She was recently appointed to McGill’s Committee on Staff Grievances and Disciplinary Procedures.
An advocate for social and distributive justice, Kok is a pioneer of 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. 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 in music industry and 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 high quality 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: Timbre in the Communication of Emotions Among Performers and Listeners from Western Art Music and Chinese Music Traditions; Gender Transitivity in Robert Schumann’s Female Dramatic Characters; Educating for Empathy: Aesthetic Education in Franz Liszt’s Héroïde Funèbre and Karel Husa’s Music for Prague 1968; 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 graduate supervisees have been funded by, 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.