Jessica A. Holmes
Postdoctoral Scholar, Musicology

Dr. Holmes’s research attends to the role of disability within and across contemporary Western art music and popular music traditions, with emphasis on the senses, embodiment, gender, vocality, and performance. Under contract with the University of Michigan Press, her book project, Music at the Margins of Sense, engages the misconceptions associated with deaf sensory experience through the first-hand accounts of deaf musicians and listeners as a means of pluralizing existing definitions of music, listening, and musical ability, a study that spans genres as disparate as classical percussion, performance art, and drone metal. Her published articles on music and deafness appear in consecutive volumes of the Journal of the American Musicological Society (2017; 2016) and theorize the multi-sensory contours of musical experience through the accounts of key d/Deaf interlocutors, including percussionist Evelyn Glennie and sound artist Christine Sun Kim. Jessica’s ongoing publication initiatives reflect the breadth of her expertise in music and disability beyond deafness by examining the relationship between disability, gender, and sexuality, such as in her forthcoming article in the Journal of Popular Music Studies entitled, “The ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl of the Synth-Pop World and her ‘Baby-Doll Lisp’: Grimes and the Disabling Logics of the Feminization and Infantilization of Lisping” (Spring 2019). She is currently co-editing a special issue of the Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies on “Music, Voice, and Disability” (Autumn 2019), which lays the groundwork for new research at the intersections of music scholarship, voice studies, disability studies, Deaf studies, and dysfluency studies. In 2018, Jessica was awarded an “Honourable Mention” for the UCLA Chancellor’s Award for Postdoctoral Research for her scholarly achievements.

Jessica’s expertise in disability lends itself to a range of Western musical repertoires, including the common practice period, evident from her recent and upcoming international speaking invitations centering on Beethoven’s deafness at the National Arts Centre in Canada, and at the Orpheus Institute in Belgium. Jessica has also organized panels for and presented her work at the annual meetings of the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, and the Society for Disability Studies. She currently serves as the co-chair of the American Musicological Society’s Music & Disability Special Interest Group, and is an appointed member of the American Musicological Society’s Committee on Cultural Diversity.

A passionate and dynamic classroom instructor, Jessica has taught a range of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including Western Art Music History, Popular Music, Issues & Methods in Musicology, Music & Disability, and Sound Studies. She completed her Ph.D. in Musicology at McGill University where she won the Schulich School of Music’s Outstanding Teaching Award in 2017. From 2012-2015, she was a Fellow of the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship program, the most prestigious Canada-wide doctoral award recognizing the leadership qualities and research potential of academics in the early stages of their PhDs. Prior to her studies at McGill, Dr. Holmes completed an MA in Musicology and a Bachelor of Music at Western University (2010). Jessica is also a cellist and singer.

Ph.D. McGill University; M.A. Musicology, B.Mus Western University

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