Short Academic Bio

Tracy McMullen is an Assistant Professor of Music at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. She received her Ph.D. in Music from UC San Diego in December 2007 and then held a Postdoctoral Fellowship with the “Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice” (ICASP) research initiative at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. From 2011 to 2012 she was a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities at the University of Southern California. Her articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Current Musicology; Critical Studies in Improvisation; Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies; People Get Ready: The Future of Jazz is Now; Sounding the Body: Improvisation, Representation and Subjectivity; The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies; The Dictionary of African American Music; and The Grove Dictionary of American Music. As a saxophonist in the jazz and experimental music traditions she has recorded on Cadence Jazz and numerous other independent labels, performing with Anthony Davis, Pauline Oliveros, George Lewis, Mark Dresser, Dana Reason and many others.

Research Interests

My areas of interest include: race, gender, class, and other identity markers, and musical performance; American music and culture; cultural memory; identity and improvisation; jazz; popular music; twentieth and twenty-first century Western "art music"; and musical re-enactment. My forthcoming book, Replay: Repetition and Identity Compulsion from ABBA to Zizek (solicited by Duke University Press) examines the growth of live musical re-enactment in relation to postmodern anxieties about impermanence and intersubjectivity. My second major project forms a response to Replay and examines improvisation as an alternative model for negotiating identity, suggesting a theorization of an improvisative, rather than a performative.


My undergraduate courses have included "African American Music," "Gender, Sexuality, and Popular Music," "Introduction to Feminist Theory," and "Music, Gender, and Culture." My recent graduate seminar, "Gender and Performance: An Interdisciplinary Investigation" examined performance scholarship from a variety of fields (dance, music, theater, speech act theory, critical improvisation studies), and the ways in which gender and race figure into conceptions of performance as ephemeral and non-symbolizable.


I received an M.A. in Music Composition and an M.M. in Jazz Studies (with an emphasis on saxophone performance) from the University of North Texas. As a jazz/experimentalist saxophonist, I have performed and/or recorded with George Lewis, Anthony Davis, Dana Reason, Mark Dresser, Pauline Oliveros, and many others. See MUSIC for more information on my musical forays and CALENDAR for upcoming events.