We are delighted to announce that Dr Joe Davies (Lecturer in Music) has been awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellowship from the European Commission, with joint affiliation at Maynooth University and the University of California, Irvine (2021–2024).

Dr Davies writes:

My project, ‘Rethinking Widowhood: Women, Loss, and Liberation in Nineteenth-Century Musical Culture’, centres on women’s experience of widowhood in musical cultures of the long nineteenth century (c. 1800–1914). At the core of the research lies a desire to rethink the ways in which widowhood served as a catalyst for musical and artistic creativity; and to reconsider the reception and legacy of women whose contributions have been overshadowed by the men in their lives. In pursuing these aims, the project takes widowhood as an impetus for establishing a new kind of historiography that restores women’s individual agency and artistic integrity to the discourse on nineteenth-century music.

Central research questions include: how might we contextualize the intersections between loss, memory, and renewal in the experience of widowhood? To what extent did personal interaction and different genres of life writing (diaries, letters, memoirs) influence how women such as Clara Schumann, Cosima Wagner, and Amy Beach conceived of widowhood? What were the implications for their social and legal status? And in what ways did these widows cultivate artistic agency through their corporeal and intellectual engagement with music – whether in terms of composition, performance, or the curation of their husband’s legacies? In addressing these questions, the project will not only open up fresh ways of historicising women’s self-fashioning within the musical sphere, but will also provide a model for future research on widowhood and female creativity across a range of art forms.

As part of the project’s dissemination activities, Dr Davies will inaugurate an interdisciplinary research network, ‘Women in Music: Global Perspectives’. Bringing together an international cohort of scholars and practitioners from the UK, Canada, Ireland, and the USA, this initiative will serve as a platform for hosting conferences, guest lectures and workshops, together with a recital series of music by women composers. Through these activities, which will be geared towards a wide audience, the network will offer valuable opportunities to start new dialogues about women’s musical contributions across a range of geographical contexts, and to hear performances of music that has long been neglected.

Dr Davies says:

‘I express gratitude to my colleagues and students at Lady Margaret Hall and the Faculty of Music for creating a stimulating environment in which to develop this project. Sincere thanks are extended especially to Professor Gascia Ouzounian and Professor Susan Wollenberg for their support throughout the application process and for their inspiration more generally. I am delighted to be taking up this fellowship and much look forward to embarking on collaborations with scholars in Oxford, Ireland, and the USA.’

Picture of Dr Joe Davies