PhD Studentship: Cluster Title: Chinese Whispers: Exploring Culture through Music and Language

University of Hull

To celebrate the University's research successes, the University of Hull is offering a full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarship or International Fees Bursary for candidates applying for each of the following projects.

Closing date: - Thursday 8th February 2018

Studentships will start on 17th September 2018

Interested applicants should contact Professor Marina Mozzon-McPherson for additional details

Cluster Awards: 3 PhD Scholarships in the area of Music Composition, Music Performance, Music Psychology, Music Theory and Analysis, Chinese Studies, Cultural Studies, Translation Studies, Applied Linguistics/Second Language Acquisition. 

Summary of Cluster

This set of research projects aims to investigate a range of phenomena and practices, in two distinct cultural settings (initially Hull/UK and Tianjin/China) emerging in response to creative artefacts and experiences rooted in music and Chinese language(s).

In the first instance, the initial set of phenomena/practices (each to be examined in the two distinctive cultural settings) will explore research questions emerging from the Chinese Whispers choir. These will include the following three projects (further expanded below):

  1. Creation of Cross-Cultural Music-Language Artefacts;
  2. Emotional and Experiential Responses to Choral Singing in a Second Language;
  3. Reception of Cross-Cultural Music-Language Artefacts in Performance

Summary of PhD Project 1

Creation of Cross-Cultural Music-Language Artefacts

Scope: Music Composition, Translation Studies, Cultural Studies

In contradistinction to existing modes of thinking about creativity as fabrication, building, ordering or structuring, this research project characterises creative outputs as emerging from the act of changing ideas and materials from one state to another, moving from one place to another, from one cultural and linguistic context to another. Through the act of translating the materials of musical creativity (words, stories, sounds, melodies, rhythms) sites of interrogation, challenge and discovery are established from which emerge new artistic works. Such artistic works encode new types of understanding relating to linguistic and cultural values, symbols, meanings and aesthetics. The successful PhD candidate will contribute to addressing one or more of the following research questions:

  1. How can we understand creativity as a process of translation?
  2. What new works will emerge through cross-cultural exploration?
  3. How does the cultural lineage of participants (specifically composers and performers in defined cultural and educational settings) inflect the nature of their participation in terms of their comprehension of compositional techniques (those to do with practices, processes and performance places), aesthetic appreciation, and perceived cultural function of a particular artefact?

Researchers will engage with existing studies on musical creativity (e.g. Collins 2012; Donin and Theureau 2008; Clarke, Doffman and Timmers, 2016; Slater 2015, 2016) to propose a new philosophical position that adapts ideas from translation studies (e.g. Budick and Iser 1996; Hardwick 2000) to be applied in the realm of music-making.

Summary of PhD Project 2

Emotional and Experiential Responses to Choral Singing in a Second Language

Scope: Music Psychology, Cultural Studies, Second Language Acquisition

This project aims to investigate the emotional experiences of music performers learning a second language through the medium of singing. The research will build upon previous research about listeners’ responses to music (e.g. Juslin & Sloboda 2001; 2011) and strong experiences with music (SEM) (e.g. Gabrielsson 2011) as well as reports on the socio-emotional benefits of group singing (e.g. Page 2014). It will also contribute to second language learning theories (e.g. Mitchell et al. 2013) and issues about context and culture in language learning (e.g. Byram & Grundy 2003). The successful PhD candidate will contribute to addressing one or more of the following research questions:

  • What emotional experiences are reported by singers when rehearsing and performing songs in a non-native language?
  • How do these experiences change as the repertoire and language become more familiar during the learning (rehearsal) process?
  • How does this pedagogic approach (i.e. learning a language through singing) impact upon second language acquisition (SLA) and language for specific purposes (LSP)?

Emphasis will be given not only to the experiential use of song in second language learning, but also to singing as a means of enculturation. The researcher will develop innovative interdisciplinary research methodology as part of the project as well as promote satellite clusters for research in translanguaging, SLA/LSP pedagogy, emotions and creativity.

Summary of PhD Project 3

Reception of Cross-Cultural Music-Language Artefacts in Performance

Scope: Music Theory and Analysis, Music Performance, Chinese Studies, Cultural Studies, Applied Linguistics

This project will explore the impact of newly-synthesised Eastern and Western musical performances in culturally-inflected spaces, with particular emphasis on their relationship to encoded signifiers (e.g. Agawu, 2009). It will investigate how various contexts can affect the performance artefact, ranging from the notated score to its instrumentation and audience engagement via the medium of live and/or recorded musical performance (e.g. Cook, 2013).

This project aims to study the aesthetic and technical origins of, and responses to, music composed and performed (initially for and by the Chinese Whispers choir) in two culturally distinct locations (Hull and Tianjin), in the context of their respective cultural traditions (in both locations, these traditions will contain parallel cultural lineages).The successful PhD candidate will contribute to addressing one or more of the following research questions:

  • How can original creativity in music performance and composition interrogate socio-cultural signs embedded within Western and Eastern musical traditions?
  • What new creativity and performance artefacts might be created in languages and music when combining Western and Eastern musical instruments and practices?
  • How can different culturally-inflected spaces (e.g. churches, temples, gardens, squares, teaching rooms, language learning centres) be transformed into creative laboratories?

Applicants should have a 2.1 or 1st-class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in either Music and/or Chinese Studies or related discipline (e.g. Translation, Psychology, Applied Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition) and a Master’s degree (preferably with Distinction or equivalent) and/or relevant experience. Some knowledge of Chinese might be an advantage.

To apply for these Scholarships please click on the Apply button below.

Full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarships will include fees at the ‘home/EU' student rate and maintenance (£14,553 in 2017/18) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

Full-time International Fee PhD Studentships will include full fees at the International student rate for three years, dependent on satisfactory progress. PhD students at the University of Hull follow modules for research and transferable skills development and gain a Masters level Certificate, or Diploma, in Research Training, in addition to their research degree.

Successful applicants will be informed of the award as soon as possible and by 2nd April 2018 at the latest.

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